Akshay Bhatia (PGA of America photo)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Aug. 31, 2018) – A familiar face is at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the Junior Players Championship, an elite American Junior Golf Association event that gives juniors a go on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Akshay Bhatia, the U.S. Junior runner-up and two-time PGA Junior champion, is tied with Bo Jin after an opening 4-under 68.
Bhatia had a bogey-free round in the making with birdies at Nos. 2, 7, 10, 11, 13 and 14. He parred the par-3 “island green” 17th, but set himself back on the leaderboard with a double-bogey at the18th, a long par 4 with water running up the left side.
“This golf course is intimidating,” Bhatia said. “But to be playing this course in tournament conditions, that’s pretty cool, and to be in the hunt for the next couple of days, it’s a good start.”
Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., also won the Sage Valley Junior Invitational and the Polo Golf Junior Classic.
Jin, meanwhile, is seeking his first AJGA Invitational victory. The Encinitas, Calif., resident is playing his ninth AJGA event of 2018. Jin started quickly off No. 10 with a birdie and followed it up with three more on the back nine. As he made the turn to the front, he carded one more birdie and a bogey.
“I was really excited to play this course,” Jin said. “I played really well today but I can play better tomorrow. There are some things I will work on to get ready for the second round.”
Alexander Vogelsong of Palm City, Fla., was the only other player to post a round in the 60s. His 3-under 69 included six birdies, a bogey at No. 18 and a double-bogey at No. 12. It left him solo third.
ABOUT THE Junior Players Championship
One of the AJGA series of tournaments that
require an invitation to participate. Format is
54 holes of stroke play.
View Complete Tournament Information