US teen phenom Bhatia makes PGA debut at Valspar
US teen golf prodigy Akshay Bhatia makes his PGA Tour debut Thursday at the Valspar Championship with plans to turn professional later this year after a groundbreaking amateur career. The lanky 17-year-old lefthander from North Carolina starts in the last group off the 10th tee at the Innisbrook Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida, thanks to a sponsor's exemption.
Bhatia, who intends to skip college for his shot at the pro ranks, has already practiced with Spanish star Jon Rahm and chatted with top-ranked Dustin Johnson this week.
"It's cool because I'm slowly building relationships out here and for the future," Bhatia said in a posting on the PGA website. "It's going to be great just to lean on them a little bit."
A mutual friend set up his practice opportunity with Rahm, who made his jump to the pros at the ripe old age of 21 in 2016.