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Akshay Bhatia looks to take down game's best in Mexico after putting change

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Akshay Bhatia played a practice round Tuesday with Jon Rahm and Tony Finau, but he probably didn’t imagine the three would walk Vidanta Vallarta together again this week.

Tomorrow, he’ll tee it up alongside two of the game’s best once more, this time with a chance to announce himself as golf’s next young star.

Full-field scores from the Mexico Open at Vidanta

The 21-year-old followed a second-round 65 with an 8-under 63 Saturday in Mexico, capping his round with an eagle on the par-5 18th to head to Sunday tied with Rahm at 17 under. The pair trail Finau by two shots through 54 holes.

“Today was amazing because I felt very calm and I'm just putting myself more and more in this position,” Bhatia said. “And I know I'm capable of winning, obviously won on the Korn Ferry Tour, so I know what the feelings feel like going into tomorrow. We're just going to have fun.”

The source of Bhatia’s fun this week has come on the greens, and according to Bhatia, it comes courtesy of AimPoint – a method many players use to read the greens.

Bhatia ranks 174th on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: putting, losing just under half a shot per round to the field. This week, however, he ranks second in that category, gaining more than 6.2 shots for the week on the paspalum greens.

“It's pretty cool to make some more putts, speed's been way better and just a little more confident where I'm aiming the ball, and I know my stroke's really good and I roll it very well on a consistent basis,” Bhatia said. “It's really exciting for me just to keep figuring this out and get better and better because it's my first week doing it and I really like it.”

A win for Bhatia would mean replacing his special temporary membership on Tour with full membership and becoming eligible for the FedExCup playoffs (not to mention everything else that comes with winning at the highest level).

All he has to do to hoist the trophy tomorrow afternoon is take down the top-ranked (and hottest) player in the world and a guy who won three times last year. Easy enough, right?