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Akshay Bhatia wins Barracuda Championship after play-off

Akshay Bhatia wins Barracuda Championship after play-off

Akshay Bhatia beat fellow American Patrick Rodgers on the first play-off hole to win his first PGA TOUR and DP World Tour title at the Barracuda Championship.

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A birdie at the 18th in regulation from around 15 feet at the Tahoe Mountain Club saw Bhatia finish with 40 points as he matched third-round leader Rodgers’ haul over the four days under the Modified Stableford Scoring format.

In sudden death, Rodgers, who missed a birdie putt for victory on the closing green, was unfortunate as his tee shot settled in a divot on the fairway and he ended up making a bogey as a two-putt par proved enough for Bhatia.

DP World Tour members Julien Guerrier and Jens Dantorp finished in a tie for third with 37 points after both players enjoyed excellent final rounds.

Victory earns Bhatia, who skipped college and turned professional at 17, full-time member status on the PGA TOUR and he is also exempt on the DP World Tour through to 2025.

"It's obviously been a really tough road," said Bhatia, who has played on the PGA TOUR as a special temporary member since a runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open earlier this year.

"I've had a lot of up, a lot of down. A lot of good, a lot of bad. But I knew I was going to get here. It was just 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."

After a shaky start to his final round in which he made a double bogey and a two bogeys in his opening five holes, Bhatia hit his stride with three birdies in four holes from the sixth.

The 21-year-old then made three birdies coming home in a bogey-free back nine as Rodgers mixed four birdies with two bogeys for a six-point day.

Reflecting on the opportunities that lie ahead, including playing on the DP World Tour, Bhatia added: “I would love to go to Europe,” he said.

“Obviously Dubai would be one of my favourite spots that I've never been to. Just going over there in general would be amazing. Hopefully I can make that happen.

“I'm excited that I get that opportunity as well. It kind of opens some flood gates over there.

“Hopefully, I can make it over to India one day, because that's a dream of mine. I was supposed to go a few years ago during COVID and then kind of shut down. We couldn't go. But I'm hoping I can make that jump over there.”

France’s Guerrier made nine birdies to pick up 20 points and climb 45 places on the leaderboard, while Sweden’s Dantorp managed 15 points after an impressive five birdies on the front nine.

Former winner Erik van Rooyen ended the week in a tie for sixth while there were also top ten finishes for Sean Crocker, Sebastian Soderberg, JC Ritchie and Ryo Hisatsune.

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