Akshay Bhatia hits all 18 greens in 64 at Pebble Beach
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He is first player since 2008 to hit every green at Pebble
Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin
Akshay Bhatia's 212-yard iron to 3 feet sets up birdie at AT&T Pebble Beach
Akshay Bhatia joined a short list – one that includes Jack Nicklaus – with his performance Thursday at the AT&T Pebble Pro-Am.
Pebble Beach is known for its tiny greens but Bhatia hit all 18 of them in his first-round 64. He is the first player since 2008 to hit every green in a round at Pebble.
“It was a good day,” the 19-year-old said.
He is just the seventh player since 1983 (when the TOUR started keeping hole-by-hole statistics) to hit all 18 greens in a round at Pebble Beach, including both the AT&T and the four U.S. Opens held at Pebble Beach in that span.
A total of 10,303 PGA TOUR rounds have been played at Pebble Beach since 1983, meaning a player has hit all 18 greens just 0.07% of the time or once in every 1,472 rounds. Last season, Pebble Beach had the eighth-hardest greens to hit on TOUR (62.9%).
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Bhatia also gained more than three strokes on the greens, holing three putts from outside 15 feet. A recent switch from an arm-lock to a short putter paid off.
“It’s probably the first time I’ve ever putted this well,” he said.
The longest one he made was a 21-footer for birdie on his first hole of the day, the par-4 10th. He added birdies on 14 and 17 to make the turn in 3-under 33. Bhatia added birdies at Nos. 2 and 3 and 6-8.
His last birdie came after a 207-yard dart to 3 feet on the eighth hole, which requires an approach over the cliffs to a tiny green. It was the most difficult hole Thursday, playing to a 4.23 average and allowing just five birdies. It helped that Bhatia was more concerned with his snack than the daunting approach.
“I was peeling an orange and it was so bad that I was just thinking about the orange and my caddie goes, ‘OK, we got 207.’ I said, ‘OK, I got to (hit),’” Bhatia said. “Just kind of hit-and-see kind of thing. It was a great birdie to steal there.”
He had no bogeys Thursday.
Bhatia, 19, is making his fifth start of the season. He finished T9 at the Safeway Open, making him the youngest player to finish in the top-10 of a stroke-play event on TOUR since Justin Rose finished fourth at the 1998 Open Championship.
Bhatia also part of another interesting note this week. His presence in the field means that Phil Mickelson has played the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with players born in every decade from the 1920s to the 2000s.
Sean Martin manages PGATOUR.COM’s staff of writers as the Lead, Editorial. He covered all levels of competitive golf at Golfweek Magazine for seven years, including tournaments on four continents, before coming to the PGA TOUR in 2013. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.