By Jay Betsill
Going into this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, Matt Every had teed it up in 91 PGA TOUR events with no victories to show for his efforts. After Sunday’s round at Bay Hill, Every rallied past 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott and 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley to claim his first PGA Tour title. Along with the $1.116 million first prize, he is now in the Masters, two World Golf Championships, the PGA Championship, and invitational events including the Memorial Tournament and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
“It’s hard,” Every said, fighting back tears. “It’s tough, man. You just never know if it’s going to happen. You get there so many times. It’s nice to get it done.”
Scott was in total control of the tournament from the outset as he fired a 62 on Thursday and took a seven shot lead into the weekend. A combination of conservative play and his putter failing him over and over allowed others to get back into to the mix on Saturday. His final round 76 on Sunday afternoon all but assured he would not win his last warm up before defending his title at the Masters. Bradley, on the other hand, made a rally of his own. Playing alongside Scott in a marquee final pairing, Bradley had a 30-foot birdie putt to force a playoff on No. 18. When his putt missed to the left of the cup, Every had his one stroke victory.
Notables in the field included Henrik Stenson (T5, -9), Brandt Snedeker (T8, -8), Graeme McDowell (T10, -6), Ian Poulter (T20, -4) and Davis Love III (T26, -3). Familiar names who missed the cut included Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and David Duval. Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson both withdrew during the tournament after two-time defending champion Tiger Woods had to withdraw prior to the start of the event.
Next up, the PGA TOUR makes a two-week stop in Texas, beginning with the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. The stellar field includes Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and two-time Texas Open champion Zach Johnson.
— Jeff Maggert became the 17th player in Champions Tour history to win in his debut victory at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak. He finished the tournament with an 11-under 205.
“You can’t count on those going in very often,” Maggert joked about his 50-foot putt on No. 17 that basically sealed his win.
Others in the field included Fred Couples (T5, -7), Colin Montgomerie (T6, -6) and Mark O’Meara (T13, -5). Nick Faldo finished in a tie for 53rd at +3.
— The World Golf Hall of Fame is changing the criteria, voting process and timing of player inductions at a press conference on Sunday at Bay Hill. The biggest change is the voting. Instead of a panel of media, golf dignitaries and Hall of Fame members, a 16-person panel will do the voting. No one will be elected this year as the Hall of Fame went through its overhaul, meaning the next class will be elected in 2015.