Marc Leishman of Australia sank a 51-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole on Sunday and held off Rory McIlroy and two others to triumph over the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s the full story from the LA TIMES:
Marc Leishman holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole to take the lead Sunday, and he stayed there with two tough pars at the end to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and earn a trip to the Masters.
In a final hour that featured four players having at least a share of the lead, Leishman is the only one who didn’t blink.
His final act was a pitch-and-run from 45 yards away on the closing hole at Bay Hill that ran out to within three feet. He calmly made the par putt for a three-under-par 69 and one-shot victory over Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman.
The only thing missing was a handshake from the King. This was the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since the September death of the beloved tournament host.
“You see guys win and he’s waiting there on the back of the green,” Leishman said. “And to not have that is obviously very sad, but to win here is just a dream come true.”
Rory McIlroy had as good a chance as anyone, storming into a share of the lead by hooking a wedge around a tree, over the water and over the green on the 16th, then nearly holing the eagle chip.
He had a 30-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead on the 18th, and after seeing that Leishman had made eagle on the 16th, gave it a good run. The putt went 8 feet by and three-putt for a 69 to finish two shots back.
“These things happen,” McIlroy said. “But I’m pleased with how I went. Ten under for the weekend around here is good scoring, and I can take a lot of positives from it going into next week.”
Kisner and Hoffman also squandered away their chances.
Kisner had a three-shot lead at the turn, but failed to made another birdie the rest of the way. His lead began slipping away when Kisner missed the green on the par-5 12th with a sand wedge, pitched over the other side of the green and took bogey. He closed with a 73.
“I had it right there in the palm of my hand to win, and I didn’t get it done,” Kisner said.
Tyrrell Hatton of England shot 71 to tie for fourth with McIlroy, while Valspar Championship winner Adam Hadwin closed with a 71 to finish three shots behind.
Leishman finished at 11-under 277 and earned a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
“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.”