Gulf Today

Bhatia fires bogey-free 63 to seize lead at PGA Texas Open


WASHINGTON: Akshay Bhatia birdied five of the last seven holes to fire a nine-under par 63 and grab a three-stroke lead ater Thursday’s opening round of the PGA Texas Open.

The 22-year-old American fired a bogey-free round at TPC San Antonio to match his lowest career PGA round and notch his lowest total in the first 18 holes at any tour event.

“Just played really solid,” Bhatia said. “This is my third time here. Not many golf courses on the tour have been my third time, so I think (I was) understand­ing the golf course a lot more. It was just a good day.” Justin Lower and Brendon Todd shared second on 66 with fellow Americans Max Homa, Denny Mccarthy, Austin Eckroat and Tyson Alexander sharing fourth on 68.

World number two Rory Mcilroy, in his final tuneup for next week’s Masters, opened on 69.

Bhatia, with five top-17 finishes and four missed cuts in nine starts this season, captured his first

PGA title last July at the Barracuda Championsh­ip, beating Patrick Rodgers in a playoff. He comes off a season-best finish of 11th at Houston last week.

Bhatia, ranked 87th in the world, sank a six-foot birdie put at the par-5 second, added back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fith then closed the front nine with a 16-foot birdie put.

He birdied the 12th from just outside six feet, added a tap-in birdie at the par-5 14th and sank a 15-foot birdie put at 15 to seize the lead alone at 7-under.

ZHANG, KIM, YIN AND CIGANDA SHARE LEAD AT LPGA MATCH PLAY: South Korea’s Kim Seiyoung, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Americans Angel Yin and Rose Zhang shared the lead ater

Thursday’s second day of stroke play at the LPGA Match Play tournament.

A revamped format for this year’s event at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas features three rounds of stroke play with the top eight advancing to weekend match play. Ciganda fired a bogey-free five-under par 67 to seize a share of the lead with Yin, who shot 68; Zhang, who fired a 73, and day one leader Kim, who fired a 74.

“I’ve been hiting lots of greens and that’s key in Shadow Creek,” Ciganda said. “If you can hit fairways and greens and avoid those bogeys, those mistakes, I think it’s big. And my puting was working. I made some good puts, five birdies, no bogeys so very happy.”

Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Japan’s Minami Katsu each fired 69 to share fith on 141 while Japan’s Yuka Saso and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff were on 143.

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Akshay Bhatia plays his tee shoot on the 17th hole during the first round of the Valero Texas Open on Thursday.
Agence France-presse ↑ Akshay Bhatia plays his tee shoot on the 17th hole during the first round of the Valero Texas Open on Thursday.

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