Akshay Bhatia might not be an amateur for much longer. If his recent results are any indication, the fledgling talent should assimilate into the pro ranks just fine.
Bhatia, the 17-year-old who made his PGA Tour debut last month at the Valspar Championship, was able to Monday qualify into the Web.com Tour's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship, and has made the most of his opportunity by making the cut at the rain-delayed event.
“It’s great out here,” Bhatia told the Montgomery Advertiser. “Anytime I can step up and play against pros, guys who have been on the tour, it’s great. I get a little taste of it before I actually turn pro. It’s cool.”
A first-round 73 left Bhatia outside the top 100, but the homeschooler from North Carolina bounced back in Round 2 with a two-under 70, moving into a tie for 40th and good enough to advance to Saturday play.
“I just felt like I hit a lot of greens,” Bhatia said. “I feel like I’m not playing very well, but to manage a two under today was pretty decent.”
Bhatia, who is expected to turn professional by the end of the year, had the benefit of playing with Davis Riley, the former Alabama All-American who's in his first year as a pro. “I asked him about college. ‘How was it?’ The decision to turn pro now vs. after you graduate,” Bhatia said. “It was fun because he’s in my age division, sort of. He kind of understands my language.”
Bhatia intends to enter Monday qualifying at a handful of PGA Tour and Web.com Tour events this spring and summer before making his decision. Up next after the RTJ Championship: defending his title at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club.