Indian American golfer Akshay Bhatia clinched an exciting playoff win at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, Texas, securing his ticket to the Augusta Masters in his debut appearance at a Major tournament.

In a thrilling showdown, the 22-year-old pro golfer, who turned pro five years ago, outlasted Denny McCarthy in a sudden-death playoff, sinking a birdie putt on the first extra hole, as reported by various media outlets.

McCarthy, trailing by 6 shots entering the back nine at the TPC San Antonio, staged a remarkable comeback by birdying eight of the nine holes, including the last seven, capping it off with a 12-foot birdie putt for a stunning 9-under 63.

Bhatia needed to match his birdie to keep his hopes alive, which he did with a nerve-wracking 67, celebrating with raised arms despite feeling his shoulder pop out of its socket during the putt. In the subsequent playoff, he strategically played his tee shot and laid up with a 5-iron on the par-5 18th hole to secure the victory.

This victory not only marks Bhatia’s first 72-hole stroke-play triumph but also earns him a historic spot in the Augusta Masters. Additionally, it qualifies him for the US Open and boosts his world ranking to No. 34.

Bhatia’s journey to victory started with his win at the 2023 Barracuda Championship, held in a Modified Stableford scoring format alongside The Open Championship, according to

Reflecting on his remarkable win, Bhatia expressed his gratitude for the opportunity, particularly considering his previous participation in the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National. His emotional victory also held special significance as it coincided with his mother’s birthday, fulfilling her longstanding wish for him to play in the Masters.

Celebrating his triumph alongside him was his fiancée, Presleigh Schultz, whose support and belief in Bhatia never wavered. Their connection, sparked at the Valero Texas Open in 2021 when Bhatia invited Schultz, then a student at Texas A&M, to watch him play, adds a touching element to his victory.

As Schultz aptly noted, Bhatia’s unwavering self-belief and determination have been key factors in his success. Their shared journey from the Valero Texas Open to the Augusta Masters exemplifies the transformative power of belief, love, and dedication in achieving dreams.