Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

Winner's bag

The clubs Akshay Bhatia used to win the 2024 Valero Texas Open


Brennan Asplen

After the third round of the Valero Texas Open, a reporter asked Akshay Bhatia what he had written on his wrist prior to the round.

“It just says ‘race my race,’ ” said Bhatia. “I'm just going at my own pace, focusing on myself, keeping the blinders right in front of me. I look at that all the time because you can get caught up in a lot of things out here and if I'm just kind of doing my own thing and trying not to let outside stuff bother me, then I just can focus on myself and whatever the outcome is, it is.”

The outcome Sunday was his second PGA Tour victory—an overtime victory over Denny McCarthy that was as impressive for Bhatia’s ability to stay in the moment as it was for his inspired play given the other-worldly birdie barrage from McCarthy, who birdied eight of the last nine holes that forced Bhatia to make a nervy 11-footer at the last just to get into OT.

The lanky (some might say spindly) left hander opened with back-to-back birdies Sunday and added another two holes later. By the time he made the turn, he was six in front of McCarthy. Normally a two-under 34 would be good enough to take care of business coming in, but McCarthy’s 28 led to free golf. Unfortunately for McCarthy, his run came to a crushing end when he chunked his approach into the water at the par-5 18th—the first playoff hole—essentially handing the win to Bhatia.

Despite the extra work, Bhatia became the first wire-to-wire winner in the event since Bob Estes in 1994. The win also gave Bhatia his first Masters berth although he is not unfamiliar with being on the grounds of Augusta National. Bhatia qualified for the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt competition in 2014, finishing sixth in the boys 12-13 age group. He becomes the first DCP participant to play in the Masters, when he tees it up at Augusta National.

Bhatia did a little better at TPC San Antonio and he did it with a superior tee-to-green play. Bhatia used his 9-degree Callaway Rogue ST Max driver to rank eighth is distance at 317.1 yards per pop as well as sixth in strokes gained/off-the-tee, nabbing more than four strokes on the field. Into the greens he was on target with his Callaway Apex TCB Raw irons with KBS $-Taper 125 S+ shafts, ranking first in strokes gained/approach-the-green (gaining more than eight shots on the field) and first in greens in regulation.

In other words, Bhatia ran his race, even if needed to go a little further than he expected to.

What Akshay Bhatia had in the bag at the 2024 Valero Texas Open

Ball: Callaway Chrome Tour

Driver: Callaway Rogue ST Max LS, (Fujikura Ventus Black 7X), 9 degrees

3-wood: Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke max, 15 degrees

Hybrid: Callaway Apex UW, 19 degrees

Irons (3): Callaway X Forged UT; (5-PW): Callaway Apex TCB Raw

Wedges: Callaway Jaws Raw (50, 54, 60 degrees)

Putter: Odyssey Versa Jailbird 380 Long