'It Doesn't Mean The World To Me' - Akshay Bhatia Says 'Main Focus' Is Winning Majors Despite Closing In On Second PGA Tour Title

The 22-year-old is four strokes ahead at the Valero Texas Open and would book his spot at The Masters with a victory

Akshay Bhatia smiles at the 2024 Valero Texas Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Most golfers would be ecstatic at the thought of being a two-time winner on the PGA Tour prior to their 23rd birthday, but Akshay Bhatia isn't 'most golfers' and appears to hold a different view.

The 22-year-old Californian won last summer's Barracuda Championship - the PGA Tour's alternative event to The Open - and is currently in the ideal position to claim an even bigger scalp at the 2024 Valero Texas Open. One that would punch his ticket to The Masters.

Bhatia is four strokes ahead of Denny McCarthy in second place and seven shots in front of Brendon Todd plus the rest of the field at TPC San Antonio.

Yet, while a victory would be a significant achievement for Bhatia, he revealed after a third round of 68 that it is more of a means to an end in relation to his ultimate career aspirations.

Asked what winning the tournament would mean to him, Bhatia replied: "Just, you know, if I win, that's great. I mean, it gets me closer to my goal. Yeah, it doesn't mean the world to me.

"I didn't grow up [dreaming of] playing on the PGA Tour necessarily to win just PGA Tour events, I grew up playing and dreaming of winning majors. That's kind of my main focus for the years to come."

That's not to say that the Californian isn't nervous or doesn't care about trying to close the deal - far from it.

Bhatia revealed he has relied on wise words from not only his caddie, Ryan Jamison but also his psychologist between rounds as he seeks to become the youngest wire-to-wire winner on the PGA Tour since Jordan Spieth at the 2015 Masters.

He said: "I was never calm today and it was the hardest thing to deal with. It's just so hard, you feel so tense and all these things in your stomach, your mind can kind of go one way. I kept to my game plan. I tried to talk as much as I could to my caddie.

"I was talking to my psychologist last night and even this morning, just all the stories that what could happen, what if I lose the lead, what if this lead goes to 10. So many things are in your mind.

"There's a couple things that he told me that really stuck and I just truly stuck to what I was trying to do this week... and my goals for future months to come. Whether I win tomorrow or not, it's closer to my goal of where I want to be in a couple months."

Bhatia also shared that he has started writing a message on his wrist before each day's play - a reminder of what he must focus on in order to succeed. During Saturday's round, the message read "race my race", with the 22-year-old sharing why.

He said: "I'm just going at my own pace, focusing on myself, keeping the blinders right in front of me. I look at that all the time because you can get caught up in a lot of things out here and if I'm just kind of doing my own thing and trying not to let outside stuff bother me, then I just can focus on myself and whatever the outcome is, it is."

Bhatia tees off in the final group alongside McCarthy and Todd at 11:30am CDT (5:30pm BST) on Sunday.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.