Akshay Bhatia has finally done it.
He is a PGA Tour winner and now has earned full-time status after defeating Patrick Rodgers in a playoff at the Barracuda Championship. The 21-year-old has been a pro since he turned 18.
Bahtia didn’t go the college route. Instead, he wanted to get his professional golf career started. Four years later, he finally won on the PGA Tour.
“It’s obviously been a really tough road. I’ve had a lot of up, a lot of down. A lot of good, a lot of bad,” Bhatia said. “But I knew I was going to get here. It was just a matter of time. For it to happen this year with special temporary membership and now to get to play all these events and to get it done today was, I can’t even describe it.”
Bahtia made a 15-foot birdie putt on the closing hole in regulation to force a playoff with Rodgers.
The former Stanford great chunked his approach shot out of a divot on the first playoff hole. Bhatia took advantage of that and two-putted for par and the victory.
It was a good day for left-handed golfers as Bhatia and Brian Harman both won on the same day, a first per the PGA Tour.
This win at Barracuda isn’t his first professional victory. Last year he won at the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour. He has also had success on mini-tours. There have been moments where he Monday qualified into events — whatever the cost, Bahtia did the work.
The 22-year-old has played in 18 PGA Tour events this season. He finished runner up at the Puerto Rico Open. Bahtia recorded four top 10s, six top 25s and has made 13 of 18 cuts.
This season has seen a lot of growth out of the youngster. Before last week at the Barracuda, the Wake Forest resident finished T9 at the Barbasol Championship. This victory opens a lot of doors for him, including a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“I’m in the playoffs now, which was a huge goal for me,” Bahtia said. “I mean, I’m just excited. I love playing golf, I love playing on the PGA Tour, and it’s just a dream come true to have it.”
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and on Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.