Indian origin Akshay Bhatia, a 21-year-old golfer on the Korn Ferry tour who turned pro at age 17, finished at second place in the Puerto Rico Open and was awarded special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, which entitles him to unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season.
“I can’t believe I’m crying. It means a lot. Worked really hard; it’s been a crazy journey, for sure. Last year was really disappointing; I got hurt and didn’t get my card through the Korn Ferry Tour. It’s crazy. I have so many people to thank … It's a crazy day. Didn’t even know I shot 7 under. Chipped in three times on the same hole through this week," Bhatia has been quoted on the PGA tour website.
“It’s a great story, and I want to write a book about my life and my journey. It’s definitely going to be a really cool chapter, for sure,” he added.
While talking about receiving the special temporary membership, he said, “It’s going to be a lot of emotion. I know my dad’s going to really cry, which I’ve only seen him do one time. My goal this whole year was to finish No. 1 on the Korn Ferry Tour (standings), play that way, get my card that way. But you know, just a different path. I’ve been in this position before, and it makes me happy that I’ve handled it so much better and learned from all the experiences I’ve had. I mean, how can you not be happy being on the PGA TOUR?”
In the meantime, Colombian rookie Nico Echavarria took the lead with two straight birdies on the back nine and finished with a 4-under 68 to win the Puerto Rico Open by two shots and claim his first PGA Tour victory.