Akshay Bhatia wins Texas Open in playoff over Denny McCarthy

Akshay Bhatia lost a six-shot lead and still won the Texas Open in a playoff over Denny McCarthy.

The 2024 Valero Texas Open is the oldest professional golf tournament to be held in the same city its entire existence. In 2022, the Valero Texas Open celebrated its 100th anniversary.

It could also be called “The Last Chance Open.” It is the last PGA TOUR event, prior to The Masters, which means that if you hadn’t qualified, it was your last chance.

The Valero Texas Open has a total prize purse of $9,200,000. That means the winner will scoop the top prize of $1,656,000.


It was obvious that one player, in the 144 field, had taken the first step toward a potential trip to the Masters. Akshay Bhatia 9-under 63 on Thursday gave him a 3 shot lead after day one.

Both Brendon Todd and Justin Lower at 6-under were also in the hunt. None of the three had yet to qualify for next week’s Masters.


During Thursday’s opening round, Jordan Spieth was sitting at 4-over with three holes to play. Then came the par-3 16th. His perfect tee shot from 199 yards resulted in a hole in one. It also earned him a new Lexus.

Round 1: Top 3
1. Akshay Bhatia -9 (63)
T2. Justin Lower -6 (66)
T2. Brendon Todd -6 (66)


Akshay Bhatia 11-under was sitting 5 shots ahead of the field on a blustery day at the TPC Oaks Course in San Antonio. Denny McCarthy, Brendon Todd, and Russell Henley were the closest in the field behind Bhatia at 6-under.

Nine players, who are also in the Masters next week, missed the cut: Rickie Fowler, Byeong Hun An, Eric Cole, Harris English, Ryan Fox, Lee Hodges, Zach Johnson, Grayson Murray, Erik van Rooyen, and Camilo Villegas.

Round 2: Top 3
1. Akshay Bhatia -11 (-2)
T2. Russell Henley -6 (-3)
T2. Denny McCarthy -6 (-2)
T2. Brendon Todd -6 (E)


The 22-year-old Akshay Bhatia, 15-under, open up a 4-shot lead in his pursuit of the final Masters Spot. Bhatia’s lead is the largest in 20 years at the Texas Open. Denny McCarthy 11-under was the only player who actually managed to to stay close to Bhatia.

When asked about his chances of winning this week’s Open, Bhatia said: “Just, you know, if I win, that’s great. I mean, it gets me closer to my goal. Yeah, it doesn’t mean the world to me. I didn’t grow up playing on the PGA TOUR necessarily to win just PGA TOUR events, I grew up playing and dreaming of winning majors. That’s kind of my main focus for the years to come.”

McCarthy has never won on the PGA Tour, but he makes his Augusta National debut next week from being in the top 50 in the world ranking. McCarthy was asked about his chances to catch Bhatia. “There’s no pressure he’s playing really good golf I know I’m going to have to go out and play another solid round of golf. I’m looking forward to the challenge tomorrow I’m going to go out and try to play some free golf.”

Round 3: Top:3
1. Akshay Bhatia -15 (-4)
2. Denny McCarthy -11 (-5)
3. Brendon Todd -8 (-2)


Akshay Bhatia 20-under is heading to the Masters. It’s a simple headline to write but how he did it gets a little more complicated.

Denny McCarthy

Heading to the back nine on Sunday afternoon, Akshay was enjoying a 6-stroke lead over his close’s competitor Denny McCarthy. Simple enough you say?

What looked like just another Sunday at the Texas Open, quickly turned into a “Shootout” at the TPC Oaks Course’s back nine as Denny McCarthy was about to change this day into one for the record books.

McCarthy looked to have lost all hope of making the Texas Open his first PGA Tour victory when he found himself dropping back to 6-under heading to the 10th tee. A two-shot swing on the 10th put him back to 4 strokes behind but Bhatia birdied the 11th to get one back.

McCarthy Birdied the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th holes for a 28 back 9 that sent the match into extra holes when Bhatia birdied the 18th to keep the match tied.

Akshay played the first extra hole with a shoulder injury sustained during his 18th hole birdie celebration. An errant third shot by McCarthy and a near perfect third to 8-feet for Bhatia brought a quick end to an almost impossible ending.

Russell Henley

NBC Reporter Damon Hauch caught up with Akshay as he was being congratulated on the 18th green. He asked him, “You Slept on the lead for three nights in the row. Denny McCarthy threw a 28 at you on that back nine. where are you most proud of and how you handled everything that came your way this week?”

Akshay replied, “Yeah, I just stuck to my game plan. I played great today. I kind of got the goal that I had in mind today and Denny played unbelievable. I mean he got to give him credit. It’s hard because he’s one of the best players out here and when you see him get hot, it’s scary. You know, because I had a six-shot lead going to the back nine then all of a sudden, we’re tied going into 18. So then, of course, he makes that putt and man what a crazy crazy day.”

Akshay Bhatia earned $1.656 million for his victory along with a trip to the Masters. Denny McCarthy took home $1.0028 million. Rory McIlroy shot a final-round 66 to sneak into solo third place, nine shots behind Bhatia. Rory picked up $634,800.


Bill Sangster, a life-long golf aficionado and former Sergeant in Marines, moved to Cape Cod in 1974 where he raised his family while working as educator with the Sandwich School System for 23 years. With his Falmouth home adjacent to Paul Harney’s Golf Course, Bill spent many days learning and playing the game of golf. He was a member of White Cliffs Country Club and Sandwich Hollows Country on Cape Cod. In 2018 he continued his love for the game of golf by moving to “The Villages” in Florida. He now will admit to anyone who asks that he is addicted to the game of golf! Bill can be reached at sangsterbill33@gmail.com.

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