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Bhatia gets dominant Rolex TOC win; Sambach top girl
Akshay Bhatia and Amanda Sambach (AJGA photo)
Akshay Bhatia and Amanda Sambach (AJGA photo)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 22, 2018) – Add another national junior golf title to Akshay Bhatia’s growing list. Bhatia won the AJGA’s Rolex Tournament of Champions on Thursday after finishing five shots ahead of the field.

Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., opened his week by receiving his 2018 Rolex Junior Player of the Year award. He ended it with his second AJGA invitational of the year. Bhatia already won the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club, the Polo Golf Junior Classic and the Boys Junior PGA Championship.

“I’m really excited to get this win. Last year I didn’t play that great and it’s been a truly special week,” Bhatia said. “Having all my family and friends here to support me and rooting me on win this event. This is a Thanksgiving that I’ll never forget.”

Bhatia took the lead in the second round and never looked back, closing out the tournament with a third-round 4-under 68 on PGA National’s Fazio Course and a final-round 3-under 68 on the Champion Course. Bhatia totaled 20 birdies and two eagles over the course of the tournament for a 16-under 270 total.

Canon Claycomb of Bowling Green, Ky., finished second at 11 under and matched Bhatia as the only two players to finish under par in every round. The 2017 PING Invitational champion finished the week with 20 birdies. Claycomb also finished runner-up at last year’s event.

Karl Vilips, an Australian who resides in Wesley Chapel, Fla., finished third at 9 under. The first-round leader finished the final round with five birdies for a 2-under 69.

Amanda Sambach of Davidson, N.C., came from behind to win the girls division by one. It was her first AJGA invitational victory but her third AJGA victory.

The University of Virginia verbal commit took the lead with a birdie on the par-5 17th before closing out the win with a par on the final hole. After the first two rounds of play Sambach was 1 over for the tournament, but she finished strong with consecutive rounds of 2-under 70 on the Champion and Fazio Courses to claim the title at 3-under 285.

“I had no idea that I was in the lead coming down 18 and I don’t think it will hit me that I’ve won for a while,” Sambach said. “I’m super shocked and so excited about this win. This is my first time at this tournament and it means so much to me to come out and win my first Invitational.”

Yuka Saso of Manila, Philippines, finished second at 2-under 286. The 2018 Thunderbird International champion totaled 12 birdies over the course of the tournament and finished with an even-par 72 on the Fazio Course.

Pepperdine University signee Alexa Melton of Covina, Calif., and Ohio State University signee Aneka Seumanutafa of Emmitsburg, Md., finished T-3 at 1-under 287. Melton won the 2018 ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior. Seumanutafa finished second at last year’s Rolex Tournament of Champions.

ABOUT THE Rolex Tournament of Champions

One of the AJGA series of tournaments that require an invitation to participate. Format is 72 holes of stroke play, with boys and girls competitions.

View Complete Tournament Information

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