Marc Leishman made a 51-foot eagle putt on 16 and then scrambled for par on 17 and 18 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday at Bay Hill.
Leishman was quietly in contention on Sunday as 54-hole leaders Charley Hoffman and Kevin Kisner struggled in Florida. Most of the gallery had turned to follow Rory McIlroy, who despite two bogeys, made the turn in 34. The Northern Irishman made birdie at 10 and 12 to move within two, just as Kisner and Hoffman were unraveling.
McIlroy short-sided himself on the par 3 14th, was unable to save par, and lipped out for a birdie on 15 as his momentum faltered. The world number 3 made 4 on 16, but three-putted the last to drop into a share of fourth with a final total of -9.
Kisner and Hoffman started the final round at 11 under par, three shots ahead of their nearest competition. Kisner struggled on the second nine, while Hoffman had a tough time at the front.
Kisner made the turn with a three-shot lead, but made two bogeys and no birdies on the back nine. He made a bogey on the par-5 12th hole after chipping over the green. He missed a 9-foot par putt at the par-3 14th.
‘I had it right there in the palm of my hand to win and I didn’t get it done,’ said Kisner, who ranks 16th in the FedExCup. ‘Two over on the back nine is not good enough. So I have to get better and I’ll work on that.’
Hoffman suffered four bogeys in a five-hole stretch starting at number 5, including a missed 3-footer at number 7 and an approach shot into the water at the next hole, but he shot 2-under 34 on the back nine.
The door was opened as Leishman addressed his eagle putt at the 16th hole, one that he had practised on Tuesday.
‘I backed off, took another practice swing and adjusted my read like 2 feet and then made it,’ Leishman said. ‘Practice pays off.’
He scrambled down the stretch, holing 6-foot par putts on 15 and 17. He had to lay-up just short of the 18th green after driving into the rough, but got up-and-down to save another par.
Leishman holed a 3-foot par putt on the final hole.
South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel finished well off the pace. Oosthuizen, who finished on -1 and a share of 28th, closed with a final round 73 after making only one birdie on Sunday. Schwartzel was +2 for the event and had to settle for a share of 45th place.
Final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational (USA unless stated):
277 – Marc Leishman (AUS) 71-66-71-69
278 – Charley Hoffman 68-66-71-73, Kevin Kisner 70-67-68-73
279 – Rory McIlroy (NIR) 74-71-65-69, Tyrell Hatton (ENG) 72-69-67-71
280 – Adam Hadwin (CAN) 70-70-69-71
281 – Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 67-68-78-68, Francesco Molinari (ITA) 70-68-74-69, Lucas Glover 68-69-72-72
282 – Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 78-66-70-68, Hudson Swafford 73-72-69-68
283 – Rickie Fowler 74-72-65-72
284 – Brian Harman 72-70-73-69, Billy Horschel 72-73-67-72, Justin Rose (ENG) 71-70-70-73, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 67-69-72-76
285 – Danny Lee (NZL) 75-70-73-67, Luke List 71-71-72-71, Pat Perez 74-70-69-72, Michael Kim 72-71-70-72, Kyle Stanley 73-68-69-75, Greg Chalmers (AUS) 69-72-69-75
286 – Wang Jeung-Hun (KOR) 71-68-77-70, Jamie Lovemark 72-69-75-70, Jason Day (AUS) 70-71-75-70, Vaughn Taylor 71-71-73-71, Martin Kaymer (GER) 73-71-68-74