• Wednesday, May 29, 2024


Indian-American golfers Bhatia and Theegala off to slow start at Masters

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 11: Akshay Bhatia of the United States prepares to putt on the first green during the first round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

In the rain-soaked opening round of the 88th Augusta Masters, Indian-American golfers Akshay Bhatia and Sahith Theegala had a subdued start. Bhatia, completing 16 holes, tied for 17th place at one-under, while Theegala, having played 11 holes, was tied for 42nd with a score of one-over.

The challenging weather conditions, featuring winds up to 56 kmph, caused a significant interruption in the game.

On a day marked by swirling winds and intermittent halts, Bhatia managed to notch a couple of birdies despite a single bogey. Theegala’s performance was more modest, marred only by an early bogey on the second hole.

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, are playing among the esteemed field of 89 players at Augusta.

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

The tournament had a delayed start due to adverse weather, kicking off with a ceremonial tee-off by golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tom Watson.

World number 1 Scottie Scheffler, close on the heels of recent major victories, scored a six-under 66, positioning him just one stroke behind the leader, Bryson DeChambeau. Byeong Hun An of Korea led the Asian contingent with a two-under 70, tying for ninth after a dynamic start that included a trio of consecutive birdies.

Other notable performances included Tiger Woods, who scored one-under through 13 holes, and Rory McIlroy, who posted a 71 as he aims for his first Masters victory to complete a career grand slam. DeChambeau, after a robust start, emphasised the need for patience and focus given the day’s challenging conditions.

“It’s always great getting off to a hot start, three-under through the first three holes kind of gets you settled. I knew it was going to be a tough day today with the wind and even tomorrow,” said DeChambeau. “So a lot of patience is required around this golf course, and making sure you’re just stroking on your line, putting it good, hitting good iron shots, and driving it well.”

Among the standout early performances, Nicolai Hojgaard, a rookie on the PGA Tour, was in third place at five-under with holes still to complete. The 2016 Masters champion, Danny Willett, shared fourth place with Max Homa, both under four, with several holes left to play in their rounds. Meanwhile, other players like Tom Kim and former champions faced varying challenges, with Kim at even par and Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Hisatsune scoring 76 and 78, respectively.

The demanding conditions of Augusta National tested all competitors, setting the stage for a compelling continuation of the Masters.



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