Akshay Bhatia Takes First-Round Lead at Rocket Mortgage Classic

DETROIT (AP) — Akshay Bhatia delivered a stellar performance at the Detroit Golf Club, shooting an 8-under 64 to secure the first-round lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The 22-year-old's round was highlighted by an impressive chip-in eagle from 83 feet on the 17th hole and a closing birdie.

Bhatia's Performance

Bhatia, who won the Texas Open in April, demonstrated his form by going 6-under over his last six holes. Fresh off a fifth-place finish in Connecticut, where his final round was interrupted by climate protesters, Bhatia continued to show his resilience and skill.

Chasing the Leader

Taylor Montgomery and Michael Kim trail Bhatia by one stroke after both shot 65. Montgomery recorded a 6-under 30 on his front nine and maintained a bogey-free round.

Defending champion Rickie Fowler finished with a 66, making three consecutive birdies to close his round. He shares this score with Will Zalatoris, Aaron Rai, Eric Cole, and Matti Schmid.

Notable Performances

Cameron Young and Neal Shipley, who is making his PGA TOUR debut, are another shot back. Shipley, who was the low amateur at the Masters and U.S. Open, showcased his talent by recovering from 2-over after eight holes to finish 7-under over the final 10 holes, including an eagle and five consecutive birdies.

Challenges for Top Players

Tom Kim, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 16, shot a disappointing 73. After losing in a playoff to Scottie Scheffler last week, Kim showed signs of fatigue and will need a strong second round to make the cut.

Young Talents Making Their Mark

Two notable amateurs made their PGA TOUR debuts:

  • Luke Clanton: Set a Florida State record with a scoring average of 69.3 and has a good chance to make it to the weekend after an opening round of 69.
  • Miles Russell: At 15, the youngest player to make a cut in Korn Ferry Tour history, shot a 74. Despite his age, Russell showcased his potential, driving his first shot 305 yards and managing a birdie among several par-saving putts.

Bhatia's strong start sets the stage for an exciting tournament at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, with many talented players in close contention.