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Bhatia, 17, having fun despite third straight missed cut as pro


LAS VEGAS – Playing the third professional event of his young career, Akshay Bhatia missed the cut Friday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Rounds of 70-72 left him five off the 5-under cut line.

The 17-year-old likewise failed to make the weekend in starts as a sponsor’s exemption at the Sanderson Fams Championship and Safeway Open.

“It’s been great, though,” he told Friday night. “I’ve had fun.”

Bhatia turned pro last month after finishing out his amateur career as a member of the victorious United States team at the Walker Cup. Rather than play his way through college, he’s opted to go directly to the professional ranks and is now – quite literally – learning on the job.

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: Full-field scores | Full coverage

“It’s been cool being out here, seeing what these guys do a little differently than me,” he said.

Bhatia is next headed to the Monday Qualifier for the Houston Open. If he gets in, he’ll make his fourth PGA Tour start. If he doesn’t, he’ll turn his attention to the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School next month in Brooksville, Florida.

As for what he’s learned over the last three weeks: “I’ve learned a lot – about where I need to be and where I’m at right now,” he said. “It could be better in a few months or in a few years, but that’s why I started early, just to learn.

“Everything from here on out should feel a lot easier, especially playing Q-School or hopefully some Korn Ferry events.”