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Akshay Bhatia wins Valero Texas Open despite dislocating shoulder celebrating reaching play-off

Akshay Bhatia/Akshay Bhatia wins Valero Texas Open despite dislocating shoulder celebrating reaching play-off
Akshay Bhatia's celebrations on the 18th hole led to him popping his shoulder out of its socket - AP/Eric Gay

Akshay Bhatia survived losing a six-hole lead and dislocating his shoulder to win the Valero Texas Open.

The 22-year-old American injured his shoulder celebrating the birdie which earned him a place in a play-off with Denny McCarthy, but clinched victory on the first hole after receiving treatment.

Bhatia also earned a place at The Masters for the first time with his second PGA Tour victory, which had seemed a lot more straightforward when he held a six-shot lead heading into the final nine holes.

“Man, what a crazy, crazy day,” said Bhatia. “This is awesome. “It’s hard to win out there as it showed today. My mom’s birthday was April 1 and her wish was to go to the Masters.”

Bhatia with his trophy and Valero Texas Open cowboy boots handed out each year to the winner
Bhatia with his trophy and Valero Texas Open cowboy boots handed out each year to the winner - Getty Images/Raj Mehta

McCarthy birdied his last seven holes and carded a brilliant back-nine 28 to shoot 63 and wipe out the deficit, leaving Bhatia needing to hole from 12 feet for a birdie to force the play-off.

He found the cup to complete a 67 and move alongside McCarthy at 20-under-par, but felt his shoulder pop out of its socket as he raised his arms in celebration.

Speaking with his fiancée Presleigh Schultz, who first met Bhatia at the same event in Texas in 2021, Bhatia confirmed the freak injury. “My shoulder came out of the socket, when I went like this,” he said as he repeated the 18th-green celebration that booked his play-off spot.

Bhatia also said that the same left shoulder had bothered him previously with injuries, although after a short spell of treatment he was able to take part in the play-off.

After McCarthy found the creek in front of the 18th green in the play-off, Bhatia had his shoulder taped before hitting his wedge to six feet and holing it to clinch victory.

The American will become the first finalist from the Drive, Chip and Putt event to return to Augusta to play in The Masters.

Rory McIlroy was a distant third, nine shots adrift, as he completed his Masters warm-up with a bogey-free 66.

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