Sat, 06 Jun 2020

Los Angeles - Akshay Bhatia, the 17-year-old American making his professional debut at the PGA Tour's Sanderson Farms Championship this week, doesn't have far to look for inspiration.

After all, he's just three years younger than Joaquin Niemann, who became the first PGA Tour winner from Chile with a victory in The Greenbrier last week.

"To see him finally break through and win, it was probably the coolest thing," Bhatia told reporters at the Country Club of Jackson in Mississippi on Wednesday, according to Golf Channel.

"It's inspiring to see that," added Bhatia, who like 20-year-old Niemann opted to forego a US collegiate career and turn pro at an early age.

"I'm ready to get it going and see what I can do."

Bhatia, who helped the US to a Walker Cup victory at Royal Liverpool before turning pro this month, made his PGA Tour debut as amateur in March, missing the cut at the Valspar Championship.

Even then he said he and his parents had been discussing for years the possibility that he would turn pro after completing high school.

"I have never liked school," he said.

"I've never been very smart going in, sitting in a classroom, and I have the worst attention span when it comes to it. So I just love being outside, I love playing golf, and I just love competing."

Bhatia has worked on his game at Dustin Johnson's golf academy and has also received guidance from tour pros including Australian veteran Adam Scott.

This week he announced that he had signed an equipment deal with Callaway.

"Expectations, I mean, I don't really have any," Bhatia said.

"My coach, George, and I talked about not having any expectations going into every week. What happens, happens. I'm not going to dwell if I don't play well, or go ballistic if I do play well."

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