Rocket Mortgage Classic: Akshay Bhatia sees more results, keeps lead 

Akshay Bhatia put together another strong round at Detroit Golf Club to maintain his lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He signed for a bogey-free 5-under 67 to sit at 13-under total.

The two-time PGA Tour winner leads the morning wave by two shots as Taylor Montgomery and Troy Merritt sit at 11-under. Merritt fired off an 8-under 64 to move up 38 spots.

Bhatia did not make as many birdies but kept his scorecard clean for the second straight day. He began his day on the back nine and recorded three birdies. Two more birdies came at the 1st and 7th hole.

One of the wildest moments of the morning came at the par-5 17th when his ball rolled into a drain on the course.

“Never seen it. Rules official’s never seen it, so it was kind of one in a million chance that ball goes in that small hole in that drain, so it was pretty funny,” Bhatia said. “That’s probably the craziest [lost ball].”

Detroit Golf Club and left-handed golfers do generally not mix well, but Bhatia’s game is nearly perfect for this track.

“It’s a ball-striker’s golf course, a lot of wedges,” he said. “That’s my strong suit, especially inside, I would say, 150 yards, so I think that’s why I like this golf course. I don’t think there’s a difference lefty or righty.”

He currently leads the field in strokes gained total at +10.372 and in strokes gained approach to the green, picking up +5.666. The 22-year-old has also only missed three greens in the past two days.

This week will be about who can make the most birdies and avoid costly mistakes. After such a strong round, Bhatia built off that momentum.

“I feel like when you know you’re playing well, then you feel like you can hit all the golf shots that you need to hit to make a good golf score,” Bhatia said. “I think the difference in situations maybe it’s a little harder, but out here, you can easily make five, six, seven birdies.”

So far, he has 11 birdies, one eagle and 24 pars on the week. If the No. 29 ranked golfer avoids disaster and can keep down the pedal, his third career win and second after the Texas Open might be within reach.

With the afternoon groups left to play, Bhatia will have to wait and see if anyone matches his score and who will likely join him for Saturday’s final tee time.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.

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