Akshay Bhatia wins 2018 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley
Akshay Bhatia won the 2018 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club with a score of -2, 214, narrowly defeating Frankie Capan (-1, 215) and a three-way tie for third between Trent Phillips, Ricky Castillo and Robin Williams (+2, 218.) Bhatia narrowly survived with the win following a penalty for using a range finder in competition, as well as giving up a four-stroke lead before again pulling away for the win on Saturday.
Since 2011, the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club has been recognized as one of the most competitive junior golf events in the world. The game’s top 54 junior players are invited to participate in a professionally styled event where they have the opportunity to meet sponsors and NCAA coaches while playing one of the country’s most exciting courses. The generous support of tournament sponsors allows players to attend at no personal cost for travel or accommodations, and has raised nearly $1.5 million for the Aiken and Augusta chapters of the First Tee.
In 2017, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann won the 2017 Junior Invitational. It was Niemann’s third appearance at the event. The win followed a banner 2016 season that saw the Chilean record 6 wins, including the IMG Junior World Championship and the Toyota Junior World Cup. Niemann was ranked No. 1 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking and played in the 2017 Masters thanks to winning the 2017 LAAC. While the 2018 Junior Invitational was taking place, Niemann was playing in his first PGA Tour event as a professional, finishing sixth in the Valero Texas Open.