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August 13, 2019

Akshay Bhatia

Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina

Q. We've got Akshay Bhatia from Wake Forest, North Carolina, a member of the 2019 USA Walker Cup team, with a 2-over par 72 today. Akshay, how about a little assessment of your round, and are you a little stressed about the number and getting into match play?
AKSHAY BHATIA: I mean, I hit 16 greens today, and that's always good at Pinehurst. I didn't putt my greatest, and I had one unfortunate break, which I had to take an unplayable and then make 6 there, and that's always hard to swallow. But I hung in there and made a really good putt on the last hole to sit at 4-over. So kind of see what happens. Obviously you get anxious about it, but there's nothing I can control, and I have a good team around me to tell me how to handle the situation.

Q. I know you played course 4 today, but how would you describe the challenge No. 2 presents, especially on the approach shots and around the greens?
AKSHAY BHATIA: Yeah, you definitely have to think. You can't go at pins, and numbers are huge. You can't -- I mean, you hit it three or four yards long, it's going to go 20, 30 feet by, and that can really lead to a big score.

But honestly, I'm way more comfortable on No. 2 for some reason, just on the driving portion of it. It's just open, and there's a lot more 4- and 3-irons off the tee, which is nice. 2 is hard, but you can definitely score if you put yourself in a good position off the tee.

Q. You're typically like all the good young players that are coming up, very aggressive, but it's not a course where you can be aggressive. Is that something you have to tell yourself going in, or constantly?
AKSHAY BHATIA: Yeah, it's definitely different than playing at home and going at every pin. I have one of my friends who's on the bag, he's played on the Web.com and the PGA TOUR, so his knowledge certainly helps me, and just learning how to play away from pins and play my misses is critical for me because I'm so used to going at flags and trying to hit it as close as possible. But sometimes it's not as good out there as hitting the middle of the green.

Q. Given the nature of the golf courses, did you spend more time on your short game before coming here?
AKSHAY BHATIA: Honestly, like leading up to this week, I haven't practiced out here as much as I normally do. I feel so comfortable here, and overall it's just -- you've got to have good speed on the greens, you've got to make some putts, and distance control is good, you're going to hit it close. That's all I normally practice.

Q. What's it like essentially playing a USGA event almost on home turf with family and friends being able to follow you?
AKSHAY BHATIA: It's unbelievable. It's everything I could ask for. I don't get this opportunity; the USGA does an amazing job, and we get to play -- well, I've played two this year, and they run some of the best golf tournaments in the world. Just to be able to be a part of this at Pinehurst and be in my home state, kind of where it all began, where it's going to finish is just -- I'm speechless about it, really.

Q. When was the first time you played here? How old were you?
AKSHAY BHATIA: I was eight, and we were living in California. Then we had some time before our flight, we just checked the houses out here in Pinehurst and kind of fell in love with it, I guess. And ever since then we moved to Wake Forest somehow, and it's been a great move ever since.

Q. After the Walker Cup, what's the path for you?
AKSHAY BHATIA: Yeah. After, I'll turn professional, probably the day after or something like that, and I'll have my start at the Safeway Open in California, Napa Valley, so that will be exciting just to get it going as a pro and play my first professional event and have Q-school later in the year. But hopefully if I play like I normally can, then take care of my starts and get it done.

Q. How many starts do you think you'll get?
AKSHAY BHATIA: Hopefully seven. I mean, that's a goal of mine. But we'll see. I've got to perform first before I kind of see how that goes.

Q. Have you signed an agent?
AKSHAY BHATIA: Yeah, Lagardere Sports.

Q. And you're in the Sea Island tournament?

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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