ST. ALBANS, MO – Akshay Bhatia, 15, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, shot to the moon with a 28 on his first nine holes, as he carded an all-time course and championship record 61 at the 42nd Boys Junior PGA Championship at The Country Club of St. Albans. Starting on the back nine, the absolutely unthinkable round of golf featured eight birdies on his first nine holes and four birdies on his final nine holes (against one bogey) to flirt with some of golf’s most mystical numbers.
The left-handed hitting Bhatia smashed the Championship record of 62, jointly held by Jordan Spieth, Miguel Cabrera-Bello, Chris Couch, Gordon Neale, Pat Perez, and most recently, by 2015 Champion Brad Dalke. In doing so, Bhatia catapulted into the lead at 14-under par for the Championship. He eclipsed St. Alban’s Lewis and Clark Course record by two strokes.
On his final hole (No. 9), Bhatia had an outside shot for a 59 with a miracle eagle pitch shot from outside the creek that fronts the green. Knowing he had a chance for glory, Bhatia went for it, and found himself six-feet off the pin. The putt for 60 pushed past the cup and the 2-foot par closed out a round that had several major college coaches from around the country swarming behind the Class of 2020 emerging superstar.
“All I was thinking about was 59,” said Bhatia, who also tied the Championship’s lowest-ever 36-hole score (69-61 130) with Dalke and two others. “It crept back in my mind. I once had a 63 on my home course but in a tournament, a 61 is special. It’s cool to set a record and have my place in history.”
He had five birdies out of the gate before making par on his sixth hole (Hole No. 15). He bogeyed after making the turn on his 10th hole (No. 1), followed by birdies on his 11th, 13th, 14th and 17th holes played. His round featured two 20-foot birdies on his fourth hole (No. 13) and eighth hole (No. 17), along with several clutch birdies from 8-to-12 feet.
In June, Bhatia won the Davis Love III Junior Open event in Brunswick, Georgia.