Central York’s 1-2 punch of senior Joe Parrini and sophomore Carson Bacha landed on the same number when it was all said and done in the Boys Junior PGA Championship at The Country Club of St. Albans’ Lewis & Clark Course in St. Albans, Mo. Thursday.
The 15-year-old Bacha, who finished fifth in the PIAA Class AAA Championship as a freshman last fall, had surged into the top 10 on the strength of a sparkling 6-under 66 in the second round. The 18-year-old Parrini, who finished tied for 11th in the state tournament as a junior last fall, caught up with his Central York teammate with a 5-under 67 in Wednesday’s third round.
Both finished up Thursday with a 1-over 73 and were two of the six players tied for 23rd at 3-under 285.
Parrini was nearly flawless in the third round as he put up five birdies and didn’t make a bogey. Parrini, who played in a sectional U.S. Open qualifier this spring after advancing out of a local qualifier on his home course at the Country Club of York, had three birdies and four bogeys in the final round.
Bacha cooled off in the third round with a 74, although the round did feature an eagle two on the par-4 fifth hole. In the final round, Bacha offset two bogeys and a double bogey with three birdies.
Parrini and Bacha emerged from the Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour qualifier at Concord Country Club. In addition to doing a nice job representing the Philadelphia Section, Parrini and Bacha certainly did Central York proud. Looking through the final leaderboard, it doesn’t look like there is any other high school with two players finishing in the top 25 at the Boys Junior PGA Championship.
Kyle Vance, who was a two-time District One Class AAA champion at Methacton, struggled home in the final round with an 82 to finish 69th at 301. It might very well have been the final junior event for Vance, who turns 19 later this month and is set to begin his collegiate career at Kansas State.
Nobody was going to catch Akshay Bhatia, a 15-year-old from Wake Forest, N.C., who completed a record-shattering run at St. Albans with a final-round 67 that gave him a 22-under 266 total that broke PGA Tour player Pat Perez’s 1993 tournament record by five shots.
Bhatia broke the tournament’s single-round record with a spectacular 11-under 61 in the second round in which he started with eight birdies on the back nine of the Lewis & Clark Course, the first nine he played, for a nine-hole total of 28.
He cooled off a little with a 3-under 69 in the third round, but his 199 total made him the first player in tournament history to break 200 for 54 holes. He got his final round going by sinking a five-foot eagle putt on the second hole. He added four birdies against a lone bogey.
“When I started this tournament, I never dreamed I would win by three shots or beat the record by five strokes,” Bhatia told the PGA of America website. “It’s such a good feeling coming off on top after shooting 61. It’s awesome. I was focused on a number I wanted to get to, which was 22-under.”
Reid Davenport, a 17-year-old from Austin, Texas was the runnerup with rounds of 66, 69, 68 and a sparkling final-round 66 for a 19-under 269 total. Davenport, who will join the powerful Vanderbilt program at the end of next summer, posted a score that would have won every other Boys Junior PGA Championship, but still finished three shots behind the red-hot Bhatia.