Akshay Bhatia. Isaiah Vazquez
With his win last week in the Barracuda Championship that was played in Truckee, California, opposite the Open Championship, Akshay Bhatia now has four top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season, including three top-4s. The 21-year-old has earned $1.9 million, and in most cases, he’d be a lock to compete in the highly lucrative three-event FedEx Cup Playoffs that begin August 10 in Memphis.
But Bhatia’s extraordinary year may end next week at the Wyndham Championship because of some rather complicated rules put forth by the tour.
When Bhatia won last week, he officially became a member of the PGA Tour. Until then, he was competing as a Special Temporary Member — a status he earned with his runner-up finish in the Puerto Rico Open in March. Bhatia played decently since, including his fourth-place finish in the Mexico Open at Vindanta. And then he got really hot over the past month, tying for ninth at the Barbasol (opposite the Scottish Open) and getting his breakthrough victory in the Barracuda.
But here’s the rub: Neither of those events earned Bhatia FedEx Cup points as a Temporary Member because the tour co-sanctions them with the DP World Tour, and so 50 spots go to the European circuit’s players. Essentially, the PGA Tour deems that there aren’t enough of its own players in those tournaments to qualify Temporary Members for FedEx Cup points.
And those are the rules that may keep Bhatia out of the playoffs. After his win, he withdrew on Monday form the 3M Open, and according to the tour, he now would need a solo fourth-place finish next week at the Wyndham in Greensboro, North Carolina, to get into the playoffs. The top 70 players in the standings reach the playoffs, and Bhatia is No. 92. If he received points for his last two finishes, he’d easily in the highly lucrative postseason at No. 51.
A tough deal, but something tells us Bhatia isn’t going to let it faze him.