• Monday, May 20, 2024

GOLF

Indian-American golfers Bhatia, Theegala secure solid Masters finishes

Akshay Bhatia and Sahith Theegala finished tied 35th and tied 45th respectively at the Masters. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Vivek MishraBy: Vivek Mishra

At the prestigious Augusta National, Indian-American golfers Akshay Bhatia and Sahith Theegala finished tied 35th and tied 45th respectively, while world number one Scottie Scheffler triumphed with a four-shot victory, claiming his second Masters title in three years.

In his first appearance at the Masters, Bhatia scored 72, 75, 74, and concluded with a 73 in the final round. Theegala, returning after a top-10 finish last year, recorded a 75 in his final round, following three consecutive 74s.

Bhatia reflected on his rapid rise and his experience at the event, saying, “I haven’t truly understood what’s happened the last couple of weeks. Everything about it is amazing. Volunteers, all the green jackets, they were so kind, so welcoming, so congratulating. I think being my first Masters, it’s pretty cool being the last person in. All in all, it was an awesome week. Had a lot of family out there, and it was a special week for a lot of us.”

Theegala, meanwhile, acknowledged some errors, noting, “I was just so happy last year with how I played. I played great all week last year. My game feels better than it did last year. I just made so many mental mistakes. Just got a little antsy and tried to push things, and my short game was off. I putted probably four or five three-putts today.”

Hailing from California, both in their twenties, Bhatia, fresh off his recent victory at the Valero Texas Open, and Theegala, who clinched his first PGA title last September, played among the esteemed field of 89 players at Augusta.

Last week, Bhatia etched his name into golfing history with a thrilling victory at the Valero Texas Open, securing a spot in the Masters.

Scheffler, maintaining his top form, started the tournament strongly with a 66 and faced challenging conditions with rounds of 72 and 71. Entering the final day with a slim lead, he pulled ahead to finish with a 68, closing at 11-under. The nearest competitor was newcomer Ludvig Åberg from Sweden, who shot a 69 to finish second at seven-under.

Åberg finished ahead of notable players like Tommy Fleetwood, Max Homa, and Collin Morikawa. Another notable performance was from Byeong Hun An of Korea, who finished tied for 16th, narrowly missing an automatic invitation for next year’s Masters by one stroke. He ended with a score of 75 in his fifth appearance at the tournament.

The day’s best performance came from Tom Kim, who notched a 66, decorated with eight birdies, finishing tied for 30th alongside Si Woo Kim and others. Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama, who won the Masters in 2021, ended tied for 38th with a final round of 74.

Scheffler, who had been in excellent form entering the tournament, had to manage sharing the lead briefly but secured his position with a series of birdies. He arrived at Augusta on the back of finishing first, first, and second in his last three starts, with top 20s in each of his four Masters appearances, including his win in 2022.

As well as the favorite’s tag, he also had the possibility of having to withdraw mid-event with wife Meredith expecting the couple’s first child imminently, but he took it all in his stride and produced one of the most dominant Masters performances of recent years.

“It’s a very special time for both of us. I can’t put into words what it means to win this tournament again. I really can’t put into words what it’s going to be like to be a father for the first time. I’m looking forward to getting home and celebrating with Meredith,” he said.

(PTI)

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