Marc Leishman of Australia holed a monster putt for eagle on the 16th hole to sneak ahead of the pack and claim victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida.
Marc Leishman emerged from a tightly bunched pack at the climax of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. The Australian holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole to move one clear and he maintained the advantage with pars on the final two holes at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. The 33-year-old finished one stroke ahead of Americans Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman.
Rory McIlroy looked a likely candidate to pull ahead on a crowded leaderboard towards the end of play on Sunday. The Northern Irishman played some superb iron shots around the turn to put himself in the mix and, after a birdie on the 16th, he was in a share for the lead at 10-under. But Leishman made his eagle at the same hole to leapfrog McIlroy and the four-time Major champion realised he needed a birdie at the final hole to have a chance. He raced his 30-foot effort for a three and then missed the return putt. He finished two behind in a tie for fourth.
“These things happen,” he said. “But I’m pleased with how it went. I can take a lot of positives from the week.”
Kisner had a chance to get the job done at Bay Hill. He was three clear at the turn. But he struggled down the stretch and came up one shy.
“I had it right there in the palm of my hand to win,” he said.
Hoffman dropped three straight shots from the 15th but bounced back with a birdie on the home hole to move back into a share of second place.
“I’m proud of fighting back to finish second but it’s obviously not what I wanted,” he said.
3 Talking points from the Arnold Palmer Invitational
1 – This was a great week to win for Marc Leishman. Not only did he claim the first prize of $1,566,000 but he he also earned a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour and secured his start in the U.S. Masters. As the first winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational since the great man’s death, Leishman was given a red cardigan like those Arnie used to wear.
“Mr. Palmer was an awesome guy who I was lucky enough to meet a few times,” Leishman said. “To honor him was huge. And it was the first time I won a tournament with my family here. It’s all come together.”
2 – It was a good finish to the week for Rory McIlroy. On Friday he was in danger of missing the cut but by Sunday afternoon he had a chance to win. The former World Number 1 will take a great deal of confidence into next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. This was McIlroy’s second PGA Tour event since returning from a stress fracture to the ribs.
“I gave it a good run today,” he said. “A lot to take into next week and ultimately Augusta in a few weeks’ time.”
Rory’s practice tips:
3 – It was an excellent week for English players with four finishing in the top-13. Tyrrell Hatton continued his good play Stateside, ending the week tied fourth with McIlroy. Tommy Fleetwood climbed back into the top-10, rebounding brilliantly from an opening 78. Justin Rose and Matthew Fitzpatrick finished tied 13th.
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Purse: $8,700,000 Par: 72
1 Marc Leishman (Aus) 71 66 71 69 277 $1,566,000
T2 Charley Hoffman (USA) 68 66 71 73 278 $765,600
T2 Kevin Kisner (USA) 70 67 68 73 278 $765,600
T4 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 72 69 67 71 279 $382,800
T4 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 74 71 65 69 279 $382,800
6 Adam Hadwin (Can) 70 70 69 71 280 $313,200
T7 Lucas Glover (USA) 68 69 72 72 281 $271,150
T7 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 67 68 78 68 281 $271,150
T7 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 68 74 69 281 $271,150
T10 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 78 66 70 68 282 $226,200
T10 Hudson Swafford (USA) 73 72 69 68 282 $226,200
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage