Entering Sunday’s final round at the Valero Texas Open, Akshay Bhatia held a four-stroke lead over Denny McCarthy. After two holes, Bhatia had extended his lead to six shots, and it remained at six through nine holes. All signs pointed towards a sleepy finish in San Antonio. Then Denny turned on the jets.

McCarthy racked up eight birdies on the back side to catch Bhatia and force a playoff, picking up 6.5 strokes on the field over just nine holes. After taping up a shoulder injury that he apparently suffered while celebrating a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole, Akshay Bhatia went on to win the first playoff hole, securing his second PGA Tour win and a spot in this week’s Masters. 

The 22-year-old Akshay Bhatia, who famously decided to turn professional at age 17, has been solid so far in 2024. Through ten starts, he’s finished in the top 20 six times, and now adds a 2024 victory to his name. But victories in non-major championships don’t seem to be Bhatia’s top priority. 

Following his Saturday round, Bhatia was asked what winning the Valero Texas Open would mean to him. Bhatia responded, “…if I win, that’s great. I mean, it gets me closer to my goal. Yeah, it doesn’t mean the world to me. I didn’t grow up playing on the PGA Tour necessarily to just win PGA Tour events. I grew up playing and dreaming of winning majors. That’s kind of my main focus for the years to come.” Well, you can’t say he wasn’t being honest! Bhatia’s response was interesting, especially in conjunction with his comments on Smylie Kaufman’s Happy Hour during the Friday telecast in which Bhatia stated that his mentors in professional golf have been Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm. 

Bhatia said the quiet part out loud on Saturday. Increasingly, the best professional golfers in the sport assess themselves through the lens of their performance in the most important tournaments in golf, the four major championships. The gap between the significance of non-major championships and major championships has never felt wider, which is both a problem for the PGA Tour and a reason to be giddy for this upcoming week at Augusta National. 

A win at the Valero Texas Open is legitimately impressive, and comes with perks a huge jump up in the Official World Golf Rankings and a spot in the Masters, two benefits that live outside the PGA Tour’s umbrella. For better or for worse, though, a PGA Tour win just doesn’t impact a player’s legacy like it used to.

Starting Thursday, Akshay Bhatia, Denny McCarthy, and 87 other golfers have the opportunity to change their legacies, which remains the most compelling reason to watch championship golf. It’s officially Masters week.

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.