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Junior PGA: Third sub-70 round gives Bhatia 2-shot lead
ST. ALBANS, Mo. (Aug. 2, 2017) All eyes were on 15-year-old Akshay Bhatia in Missouri today. Everyone wondered how the teenager from Wake Forest, North Carolina could follow up Tuesday's record-setting 61.

Not surprising, like most players trying to equal a day when all the putts were dropping, Bhatia came back down to earth on Wednesday, but only slightly. He still managed his third sub-70 round, a 3-under 69 that leaves him at 17 under and two shots clear of Daulet Tuleubayev of Cupertino, California. And, did we mention he set another record? With his 54-hole total of 199, Bhatia became the first person ever to break 200 in the history of the tournament. The Jack Nicklaus Trophy is now his to lose.

Related: Junior PGA Championship: Akshay Bhatia shoots record 61

Bhatia's round featured five birdies and a pair of bogeys. He hit 10 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation. The day was highlighted by a hole-out birdie from a greenside bunker on number 15. His play from these hazards was perfect as he went 3/3 in sand saves.

“I tried to get the mindset today that there was still two days left to play this championship and that everyone was starting even,” Bhatia told PGA.com. “It’s going to be fun tomorrow. I’ve never been in this position before, and I want to get the job done.”

As for his nearest competitor, Tuleubayev kept pace. The 18-year-old Californian, who first played golf after reading an article about Phil Mickelson winning the Masters in his father’s Golf Digest, is a native of Kazakstan - who moved to the United States just four years ago; he matched the low round of the day (66). His scorecard featured seven birdies to a lone bogey.

A chess prodigy as an eight-year-old back in his native Kazakstan, Tuleubayev relied on the strategies and patience learned in this age-old game to stay close enough to Bhatia to challenge him in the final round. It helped that he hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation, giving him lots of looks for birdie.

“My mindset is I got to chase this guy,” he told PGA.com. “The course is scorable. I am going to go for it.”

At 13-under for the Championship, in a tied for third and within striking distance if they can put together a low score in the final round are: Trent Phillips (67-70-66 203), of Inman, South Carolina, and Reid Davenport of Austin, Texas (66-69-68 203). Phillips equaled Tuleubayev’s 66 thanks to a bogey-free, six birdie round.

Michael Barnard (70-70-67 207), of Gallatin, Tennessee, and Jacob Bridgeman (65-68-74 207), of Inman, South Carolina, are eight shots behind Bhatia, in a tie for fifth.

One of golf’s major championships for juniors, the Boys Junior PGA Championship is where the best in the world get their start including: 2017 Open Champion Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, David Toms and Scott Verplank. Begun in 1976, at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, the Championship has been a popular stop on the national junior circuit for many of today’s PGA touring professionals.

The Boys Junior PGA Championship doubled the size of the field this year and is conducting its Championship at The Country Club of St. Albans 10 days after the conclusion of the 42nd Girls Junior PGA Championship—which was won by Rose Zhang, 14, of Irvine, California in record-tying fashion, with a 72-hole total of 268.

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ABOUT THE Junior PGA Championship

One of golf’s major championships for juniors, the Boys Junior PGA Championship is where the best in the world get their start. Begun in 1976, at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, the Championship has been a popular stop on the national junior circuit for many of today’s PGA touring professionals including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Pat Perez, who held the record for 24 years until Akshay Bhatia shattered it by 5 strokes in 2017.

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