The PGA TOUR revealed that Akshay Bhatia (pronounced OCK-sheh buh-TEE-uh) has accepted Special Temporary Membership for the remainder of the 2022-23 PGA TOUR Season. Bhatia, 21, is now eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season as he attempts to earn his PGA TOUR card for the 2024 season.
Readers may remember Bhatia as the slender-physiqued man who stripped to just rolled-up trousers to attempt to play a shot from the muddy edge of a hazard at the Honda Classic a little over two weeks ago, almost being sucked into the quicksand-like mud in the process as he planted his left foot a little too far from solid ground.
Bhatia has made four starts on TOUR this season and crossed the threshold for Special Temporary Membership with a runner-up at the Puerto Rico Open, accumulating as many or more points through the non-member FedExCup points list this season as No. 150 on the 2021-22 FedExCup Playoffs and Eligibility Points List (175). Via his top-10 finish in Puerto Rico, Bhatia qualified for this week’s Valspar Championship, site of his PGA TOUR debut as a 17-year-old amateur in 2019 (MC).
To earn full status on the PGA TOUR for the 2024 season, Bhatia must earn as many or more non-member FedExCup points as No. 125 in the final 2022-23 FedExCup Playoffs and Eligibility Points List, which will run through the fall 2023 portion of the season. Bhatia currently has 230 points, and for reference, that would fall between Nos. 91 and 92 in the current standings.
Bhatia, who has recorded two top-10s in 22 career starts on TOUR, is the first player to join the TOUR as a Special Temporary Member this season. In four starts on the Korn Ferry Tour this season, he has two top-10s, and is currently No. 17 in the Korn Ferry Tour Points List. During the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour season, Bhatia won the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay and went on to finish the regular season No. 30 in the points list.
Special Temporary Members are not eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs, however, Special Temporary Members or non-members who subsequently become regular PGA TOUR members by winning an official event during the season will be counted on the FedExCup points list, along with any FedExCup points earned as a non-member (excluding those won at World Golf Championships events, the Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship as a non-member) and thus be eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs.
Born in Los Angeles, Bhatia, who turned professional in September 2019, plays out of Wake Forest, North Carolina.