Golf: Playing for the departed Murray, Indian-American Akshay Bhatia shoots 69

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Golf: Playing for the departed Murray, Indian-American Akshay Bhatia shoots 69

Hamilton (Ontario): Akshay Bhatia opened the RBC Canadian Open with 1-under 69 and also said that he was playing for Grayson Murray, his senior colleague and fellow PGA TOUR player, who took his life last week. Bhatia was lying T-34 and fellow Indian-American Sahith Theegala, who had also spoken about the need to tackle mental health issues, had a rough start with 4-over 74 at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

Two-time RBC Canadian Open winner, Rory McIlroy started the week with a 4-under 66 that placed him tied sixth and four behind the leader, David Skinns, who had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch in his 8-under 62. Bhatia had an early birdie on second and bogeyed ninth and the 13th but then birdied three in a row from 15th to 17th and again dropped a shot to finish at 69.

“I’m playing for him this week, and every round I play for the next however long,” said Bhatia. “He’s just with me all the time, and he meant a lot to me. Just happy and proud to wear Grayson’s name on my wrist.

Bhatia was seen with a “G$” marking on his wrist in memory of Murray as seen during the first round of the RBC Canadian Open. “He was one of my best buddies out here, grew up together. I looked up to him for a long time. I wish he was still here, but I know he’s here watching above everyone.”

Bhatia was a young teenager when he first met Murray in Raleigh. Bhatia was 13 or 14 at the time, and he remembers thinking how cool it was that Murray was a PGA TOUR player – Murray earned his first TOUR card through the 2016 Korn Ferry Tour; he was just 22 years old at the time.

Skinns, 41, from England is one shot ahead of Sean O’Hair and Sam Burns, who shot 63 each, while Robert MacIntyre also had a fine start with 64. Ryan Palmer opened with a 65, and Rory McIlroy (66) was trailed by Ryan Fox, Andrew Novak, Erik van Rooyen, Nick Hardy, and Trace Crowe. Defending champion Nick Taylor shot a 72.

McIlroy won the RBC Canadian Open in 2019 the last time it was in Hamilton and again in 2022 at St. George’s in Toronto.

 


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