Akshay Bhatia chips in for eagle to defend Junior PGA title

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Akshay Bhatia holed a 40-foot eagle chip on the final hole Friday to successfully defend the Boys Junior PGA Championship title.

The 16-year-old Bhatia, from Wake Forest, North Carolina, ran in the slow-moving, sidewinder for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke victory at Valhalla Golf Club. The first two-time winner in event history, Bhatia raised his club in celebration and followed with a fist-pump. The eagle followed a bogey on No. 17.

“To make the chip was unreal,” Bhatia said. “It was one of the clutchiest moments of my career.”

Bhatia finished at 11-under 277. He won last year at a record 22 under at The Country Club of St. Albans in Missouri.

Tommy Stephenson, of Carlsbad, California, was second. The 17-year-old closed with a 66.

Bhatia earned an automatic spot on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team that will face Europe at Disneyland Paris in September. Captain Allen Wronowski also named Canon Claycomb, Michael Thorbjornsen, Ricky Castillo, William Moll and Cole Ponich to the team. They will join Yealimi Noh, Rose Zhang, Lucy Li, Rachel Heck, Erica Shepherd and Alexa Pano on the co-ed squad.

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