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Bhatia and Rai, who have India connections, share lead at Rocket Mortgage golf

Bhatia and Rai, who have India connections, share lead at Rocket Mortgage golf

Detroit, US, June 29 (SocialNews.XYZ) Akshay Bhatia carded 5-under 67 to keep a share of the lead as he was joined by England’s Aaron Rai (65) at 13-under at the halfway stage of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Indian-American Bhatia’s card included a par on Par-5 17th after his golf ball went into a fairway drain through one of the holes in the metal cover. He got a free drop and he went on to make par. It was a second bogey free round at the Detroit Golf Club.


Aaron Rai, who like Bhatia, has Indian connections, shot 65 to match Bhatia at 13-under 131 on a course that consistently yields low scores. Rai made seven birdies, including four in a five-hole stretch midway through the round, and capped his day with a 21-foot birdie putt on the 18th.

Taylor Montgomery (68), Troy Merritt (64), Erik van Rooyen (64) and Cameron Young (66) were two strokes behind the co-leaders. Eric Cole (68), Cam Davis (66) and Joel Dahmen (64) were another shot back.

Bhatia, 22, who chose to skip college and turned pro at age 17, earned his second PGA TOUR victory at the Valero Texas Open in April. Last week he was tied fifth at the Travelers Championship.

About the ball going onto the drain, Bhatia laughed and said, “Oh, yeah, that was wild. No, never seen it. Rules official's never seen it, so it was kind of a one in a million chance that the ball goes in that small hole in that drain, so it was pretty funny. Oh, no, that was hilarious. It's going to be pretty viral, I think. What are the odds of that happening?”

Coming to his final round pairing last week with Scottie Scheffler, he said, “It's cool to see what it's like. He's (Scheffler) obviously playing on a different level than many of us out here. Yeah, I mean, he just kind of plots around and doesn't make many mistakes and doesn't let anything get to him. That's why he's the No. 1 player in the world, he holds himself to that standard.”

Rai said, “It (his game) feels in a good place. Played really nicely the last two days, hit it well tee to green, hit a lot of fairways, a lot of chances, and rolled it pretty well, too, on the greens. Yeah, it's been a real solid first two days to start with.”

He added, “I think it's been more of a process over the last few years, there's nothing in particular that I've really tried to change this year. I think building good foundations off previous years and just trying to stay on top of the fundamentals, trying to stay in a pretty good place. And that changes week to week, and I think trying to bring it back and kind of play with what is going on that particular week I feel like we've done a better job of managing the full shots, which has certainly helped this season with tee to green.”

Rai, Montgomery and Young are each seeking their first PGA TOUR victory. Merritt and van Rooyen have each won twice.

Bhatia, who started with a 64 on the first day, started the second round on the par-4 10th and hit an approach from 112 yards to 3 feet for birdie. He made a 31-foot putt on the par-3 15th for his second of five birdies Friday.

Tom Kim, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 16, followed up a first-round 73 with a 68 and missed the cut by a stroke at 3 under.

Only Bhatia and Rai are bogey free for 36 holes.

This is Rai’s first career 36-hole lead or co-lead on TOUR in an individual stroke-play event. He held a share of the 36-hole lead with partner David Lipsky at the 2024 Zurich Classic of New Orleans before finishing T23

He is searching for his first career win on TOUR and T3 at 2023 RBC Canadian Open is his best. He has had two Top-10s this season with T4 at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson as his best.

Source: IANS

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Bhatia and Rai, who have India connections, share lead at Rocket Mortgage golf

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