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Akshay Bhatia switches to broomstick putter at Fortinet Championship

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Akshay Bhatia switches to broomstick putter at Fortinet Championship

    Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic

    NAPA, Calif. – Akshay Bhatia isn’t afraid to tinker, especially with his putting.

    The newly-minted PGA TOUR winner has experimented with different green-reading techniques, alignment aids and putters before finally settling on a recipe that led to his win at the Barracuda Championship in August.

    Yet Bhatia, 21, wasn’t completely satisfied. He showed up to this week’s Fortinet Championship, the first event of the FedExCup Fall, with another significant change: a broomstick-style putter. The Fortinet is Bhatia’s first start in five weeks and just his second start since his victory.

    The putter head, an Odyssey Tri-Hot 5K No. 7, is the same that he’s used for most of the season, but the shaft is different. Bhatia swapped the 39 1/8” armlock shaft for a 44” broomstick shaft. He also added six degrees of lie angle.

    Akshay Bhatia putting with a broomstick-style putter at the Fortinet Championship. (Taylor Ryan/PGA TOUR)

    Akshay Bhatia putting with a broomstick-style putter at the Fortinet Championship. (Taylor Ryan/PGA TOUR)

    Bhatia has had a successful season after starting the year without PGA TOUR status. He earned Special Temporary Membership with his runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open in March, then earned his first PGA TOUR win at the Barracuda Championship in July.

    He’s proven an above-average ballstriker, ranking 21st in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and 31st in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He’s 170th in Strokes Gained: Putting, however.

    Using the broomstick is rare for a player of Bhatia’s age, but other TOUR players have seen success with it this season.

    A switch to a long putter recently rejuvenated the career of Lucas Glover, a player who turned pro before Bhatia was born. After a decade-long struggle with the yips, Glover, 43, saw immediate success with the longer putter. He finished in the top six in three consecutive starts before collecting wins in consecutive weeks at the Wyndham Championship and FedEx St. Jude Championship. He finished 18th in the FedExCup, his best showing since his U.S. Open-winning season of 2009.

    Si Woo Kim, 28, won this year’s Sony Open in Hawaii with a broomstick, as well, and qualified for the TOUR Championship.

    Bhatia has shown a willingness to try the latest trends on the greens. He was among the numerous golfers to use the Odyssey Jailbird putter this summer. The putter was popularized by Wyndham Clark, Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley, who all won with it this season. It lasted just one round for Bhatia at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, however, before he returned to the Tri-Hot 5K No. 7.

    “I felt unsure with everything,” he said at the time. He also implemented AimPoint to help with his green-reading but quickly moved away from that.

    “I’m definitely searching for who I was as a junior,” Bhatia told PGATOUR.COM in Detroit earlier this season. “I felt like I was one of the best putters in junior golf, amateur golf. I’m trying to just figure out.”

    Bhatia was one of the best amateurs, period. He finished runner-up at the 2018 Junior Amateur, won two silver medals at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games and played in a Junior Presidents Cup, Junior Ryder Cup and became the first high-schooler to represent the United States in the Walker Cup. He took an unconventional route from there, opting to turn professional straight from high school and forego collegiate golf. He spent several years playing mini tours, occasional Korn Ferry Tour events and any PGA TOUR event he could get into with a sponsor exemption.

    That was the case back at the 2020 Fortinet Championship. Bhatia, then 18 years old, finished T9 that week to become the youngest player to finish in the top 10 of a stroke-play event on TOUR since Justin Rose at the 1998 Open Championship.

    Maybe this latest change will spark another run from Bhatia in Napa Valley.

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