By Jay Betsill
The first Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard since the September death of the tournament’s namesake was won by Australian Marc Leishman.
The biggest shot of the day — and of the tournament for that matter — came on No. 16 when Leishman drained a 50-foot eagle putt to take the lead. He wound up at 11-under, one shot better than Charley Hoffman and Kevin Kisner to win the 39th edition of the annual PGA Tour stop at Bay Hill Club & Lodge.
“You see guys win and he’s waiting there on the back of the green,” Leishman said. “To not have that is obviously very sad, but to win here is just a dream come true.”
Rory McIlory had vaulted up the leader board to actually have a share of the lead, but a bogey on No. 18 dropped him out of legitimate contention with several groups remaining on the course.
He finished in a tie for fourth at 9-under, two shots behind Leishman.
With the victory at Bay Hill, Leishman earned $1.566 million and 500 FedEx Cup points.
Next up on the PGA Tour is the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club in Austin, TX.
— Steve Stricker was attempting to win his first PGA Tour Champions event at the Tucson Conquistadores Classic. He took a three shot lead into the final round and had a two stroke lead into No. 16, where he bogeyed and Tom Lehman birdied to even things up with two holes to play.
In what essentially came down to match play between two former Colonial champions, Lehman would come out on top after Stricker’s drive on No. 18 went through the crowned fairway and into the water hazard.
Bob Estes was also making his PGA Tour Champions debut and he finished in a tie for 23rd.
The PGA Tour Champions is off next week before returning on March 31 for the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.