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Bhatia stretches Texas Open lead


WASHINGTON (AFP) — Akshay Bhatia birdied two of his last three holes and stretched his lead from three to five strokes after Friday’s second round of the PGA Texas Open.

The 22-year-old American fired a two-under-par 70 to stand on 11-under 133 after 36 holes at TPC San Antonio.

Bhatia matched his career-low PGA round with a 63 on Thursday and struggled to follow up well but stayed well ahead of the pack.

“It was stressful, for sure, wasn’t my best stuff,” Bhatia said.

“I struggled a lot off the tee, the golf swing didn’t feel great with any of the longer stuff, but the iron play was still phenomenal, wedges were good, and I made some nice putts.”

“I’m reading the greens really well so I understand when I’m missing putts why that’s happening, so it’s good, understanding where I need to improve the next couple days.”

Americans Brendon Todd, Russell Henley and Denny McCarthy shared second on 138.

World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, in his final tuneup for next week’s Masters, fired a 70 to stand fifth on 139. McIlroy can complete a career grand slam with a victory next week at Augusta National.

“I just stayed patient and tried to play pretty smart golf,” McIlroy said.

“Just trying to keep the ball in play off the tee, trying to give yourself some good looks.”

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