Akshay Bhatia opens up four-shot lead at Valero Texas Open

Akshay Bhatia will look to punch his ticket to The Masters with another PGA Tour victory.

Akshay Bhatia is in control of the Texas Open
Akshay Bhatia is in control of the Texas Open

PGA Tour star Akshay Bhatia opened up a commanding four-shot lead in round three of the Valero Texas Open on a day where Rory McIlroy all-but played himself out of contention. 

Bhatia, 22, carded a steady third-round 68 to push it to 15-under par at TPC San Antonio.

That ties the 54-hole record in Texas Open history. 

The American now finds himself four strokes clear of compatriot Denny McCarthy, who posted a solid 67. 

Bhatia has led every round so far this week. 

Bhatia can punch his ticket to The Masters with a win
Bhatia can punch his ticket to The Masters with a win

Bhatia and McCarthy have pulled themselves clear of the chasing pack with Brendon Todd (69) back in third on 8-under par. 

Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (66) and Russell Henley (70) are a further shot back on 7-under par. 

Sweden's Ludvig Aberg saw his driver head fly off on the 17th but he still managed to drive the green en route to a round of 67.


Aberg finds himself in sixth place on 6-under par. 

McIlroy had started the round inside the top 10 and six shots off the pace but he slumped to a disappointing level-par 72 to remain 5-under par. 

The Northern Irishman is now T7 but 10 shots behind Bhatia entering the final round.

McIlroy will attempt to complete the career grand slam at The Masters next week. 

McIlroy fell out of contention in R3
McIlroy fell out of contention in R3

Bhatia landed his maiden PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship last season.

That came on the same day fellow left-hander Brian Harman etched his name on the famous Claret Jug at The Open. 

A second PGA Tour title in less than 12 months at the Texas Open on Sunday will punch Bhatia's ticket to The Masters for the first time in his career next week. 

Bhatia has only played in one major championship in his career. That came at the 2021 US Open. 

Victory at the Texas Open would be extra sweet for Bhatia on Sunday given he met his girlfriend, Presleigh Schultz, in the state three years ago. 

McCarthy is seeking his first PGA Tour title but he is already eligible to compete in The Masters. 

Texas Open R3 Leaderboard

-15 A Bhatia (US)
-11 D McCarthy (US)
-8 B Todd (US)
-7 R Henley (US), H Matsuyama (Jap)
-6 L Aberg (Swe) 
-5 R McIlroy (NI), S Cink (US), A Noren (Swe), R Hoey (Phi)


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