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Bhatia, 17, misses cut in pro debut at Sanderson


Making his professional debut this week, 17-year-old Akshay Bhatia missed the cut Friday at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Rounds of 70-74 left Bhatia even par for the week, two off the projected cut line when he walked off the course.

Bhatia announced earlier this year his intent to forego college and head straight to the play-for-pay ranks.

A member of the victorious U.S. Walker Cup team two weeks ago in his final event as an amateur, Bhatia was in the field this week at the Country Club of Jackson as a sponsor’s exemption.

Speaking after his second round, the teenager said he felt plenty comfortable in his first 36 holes as a pro. His only laments were that he didn’t drive the ball better or take advantage of the par 5s.

Sanderson Farms Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Asked to grade his performance, he gave himself a “C,” but was nonetheless optimistic about his pro prospects.

“Every time you play in a stage bigger than what you’re used to, it’s going to help you,” he said. “I’ll talk to my parents and manager and we’ll get through it.

“Next week is a new week. I have another opportunity. Like I said, if I do what I need to do and drive it a little better, I can certainly perform out here. I know I can.”

Bhatia has sponsor’s exemptions into next week’s Safeway Open in Napa and the following week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open outside Las Vegas.

Thereafter, it’ll be off to the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School in Brooksville, Florida, in November.

“Like I said, I know I can compete out here. I shot under par in my first go-around as a pro,” he said. “Just got to do what I need to do and say it with a smile.”