2024 Valero Texas Open Recap

Akshay Bhatia Wins Second Career PGA Tour Event

Akshay Bhatia (-20) went wire to wire to win the 2024 Valero Texas Open.  It was the young American’s second career PGA Tour victory after winning last year’s Barracuda Championship.  With a full field that included a few of the game’s top players, Bhatia was the best player and it wasn’t really close.  Now 22, his game has clearly matured after turning pro at 17 and taking his lumps.  He must now be considered a threat to win in every tournament he enters.

Denny McCarthy finished runner up and was the only player who would have felt a shred of hope of catching Bhatia on Sunday.  He entered the day trailing Bhatia by four, with the next closest chaser three behind him.  Bhatia kept his pedal to the floor, birdieing three of his first four holes to stretch his already-comfortable lead.  But McCarthy wasn’t satisfied to let Bhatia cruise to victory.

He went nuts on the back, birdieing 8 of his final 9 holes en route to a final round 63.  McCarthy is known as one of, if not the, best putter on Tour and he showed why this week.  After turning the tables and catching Bhatia, both players made dramatic birdies on the 72nd hole to force a playoff.  With Bhatia apparently suffering from shoulder pain sustained as a result of his fist pump after that final hole birdie, McCarthy laid the sod over his short wedge into the par 5 18th, effectively handing Bhatia the title.

Rory McIlroy, always a fan favorite and notably chasing a green jacket to complete his career grand slam, didn’t quite have his best stuff this week, but did play well enough to card a final round 66 and finish in solo third.  He will undoubtedly be a popular pick next week.

Another player who is in great form heading into next week’s Masters Tournament is former champion Hideki Matsuyama.  He finished T7 at -8 after closing with a round of 71.  Other notable finishes included Russell Henley in solo fourth at -10, Tommy Fleetwood T7 alongside Matsuyama, and the ever-entertaining former Masters champ Jordan Spieth T10 at -6.

Next week, the PGA Tour takes a break while the Masters is contested.  Jon Rahm is the defending champion and will compete against a field that includes past champions, amateurs, and perennial favorites like McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Brooks Koepka.

Akshay Bhatia What’s In The Bag

Driver: Callaway Rogue ST Max 9 (Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X)

3 Wood: Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max 15 (Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X)

Hybrid: Callaway Apex UW proto 19 (Fujikura Ventus Black 10 X)

Irons: Callaway X Forged UT 22, Callaway Apex TCB Raw 5-P (KBS $-Taper 125 S+)

Wedges: Callaway Jaws Raw 50-10S, 54-10S, 60-08C (KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 135 X)

Putter: Odyssey Jailbird 380

Dylan Thaemert
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