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Jun 27, 2024 7:36 pm

Akshay Bhatia uses 64 to take Rocket Mortgage lead

akshay bhatia

Akshay Bhatia used a sizzling closing stretch to post an 8-under 64 and take the first-round lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Thursday at Detroit Golf Club.

Bhatia, 22, is seeking his third PGA Tour title in a roughly 11-month span after winning the Barracuda Championship last July and the Valero Texas Open in April.

His bogey-free round put him one stroke ahead of Taylor Montgomery and Michael Kim. Defending champion Rickie Fowler opened with a 6-under 66 and is tied for fourth with Will Zalatoris, Eric Cole, Germany’s Matti Schmid and England’s Aaron Rai.

Bhatia had four birdies through 15 holes before a birdie-eagle-birdie finish. He stuck his approach at the par-4 16th hole inside 6 feet to set up birdie. Then came a chip-in eagle from just off the green, about 83 feet from the hole at the par-5 17th, giving him the lead at the time. He closed his day with a 7-foot birdie putt at No. 18.

Fowler also had a bogey-free round and birdied four of the final five holes of the round. His victory at last year’s Rocket Mortgage ended a winless spell of more than four years.

Cameron Young, who shot 59 during the third round of last week’s Travelers Championship, is part of a group tied at 5-under 67.

Amateur Miles Russell, 15, shot a 2-over 74 in his first round on the PGA Tour. The top-ranked junior in the world is playing on a sponsor’s exemption.

–Field Level Media

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