Wake Forest teen golfer who just turned pro says delay in season is ‘blessing in disguise’

Sports

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — Akshay Bhatia’s rookie season is on hold. The cororavirus pandemic has shut down all professional golf tours.

In this scenario during Bhatia’s first pro season — you might think — it’s not a good thing. But think again.

“I’m actually really enjoying the time off that I have,” said Bhatia of Wake Forest. “I can actually breathe, relax and get some work in. It’s actually been a blessing in disguise.”

It’s not the ideal way to start a career, but Bhatia is adjusting. The 18-year-old phenom is finding life as a pro can be a challenge. Not only on the golf course.

The youngest player on the McKenzie Tour, Bhatia has had his sister, Rhea, tag along early on and not just for moral support.

“At the time I couldn’t get a hotel room my first few tour events,” Bhatia explained. “I couldn’t rent the car, couldn’t get the courtesy car that they give us during the week — so she was doing all that stuff and making sure I was staying out of trouble.”

One of the top amateur golfers in the world before turning pro, Bhatia has found the going tough while playing for pay. Bhatia failed to make the cut in all five events before the season was suspended.

“Yeah, it’s different, but it’s just golf,” said Bhatia. “Whoever’s playing the best that week is going to win and I certainly believe I have the game to do it.”

Bhatia is confident that when the season gets back on track he will have figured out what was missing early on. For a young player like Bhatia, self-imposed pressure is often the problem.

“I pretty much wanted to play so well to prove it to myself that I added too much stress to the game,” said Bhatia. “And that’s not the reason I play. I play because I want to have fun, I want to enjoy it.”

Bhatia was all smiles while becoming one of the Triangle’s best young golfers ever.

It’s only a matter of time before that youthful exuberance carries over now that he’s a professional.

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