Martin Laird wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

Martin Laird wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

Martin Laird survived the sternest of tests to become the first European to the win at Bay Hill when taking the Arnold Palmer Invitational by one stroke from Steve Marino on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Scot shot a three-over-par 75 for his final round but was still victorious as none of the players in the final three groups were able to break par with the course set up for a tough fourth day challenge.

Laird started the day with a two shot lead but, following three bogeys on the outward nine, headed for home tied with Marino at eight-under-par. He slipped a shot behind when Marino birdied the tenth and seemed to have lost his chance when finding water on the eleventh hole to card a double bogey.

Marino looked to be on course for his first tour victory as he maintained his three shot advantage at the 14th, but he found sand to bogey 15 and then on 17 he was unlucky to get plugged in a bunker and dropped back to six-under after the resulting double bogey. Meanwhile Laird was able to regain the lead with consecutive birdies at 15 and 16 to go two shots clear, his 17-foot putt on the par-5 16th going down as his shot of the day. Marino gave himself a chance to with a birdie on the 18th but Laird was able to get down in two from 90 feet on the final hole to complete a remarkable comeback.

"That was a hell of a day, said Laird after shooting the highest winning score since 1993. “That was a tough fight out there, you know, the golf course is playing very, very difficult.”

The afternoon wind and hot sun had dried out the course, making the difficult pin positions all the more challenging and birdies proved to be incredibly hard to come by, especially on the back nine.

Justin Rose was one the few players to tame the back nine on Sunday, taking just 31 shots on his way to a four-under-par 68 which earned a share of third place with Marc Leishman and David Toms.

Spain’s Sergio Garcia finished eighth after his final round 70 and Ian Poulter also managed to shoot under par, finishing tied 12th following his 71.

Phil Mickleson and Tiger Woods had been playing solidly and looked good for top ten finishes to take to next week’s Masters but both players dropped shots on the closih holes and finished tied 24th. Woods made a bogey on 17 and double bogey on 18 to finish on 72 while Mickleson dropped three shots on the last five holes for his 73.

"The back-nine pins, they are all bogey and double-bogey pins -- they are not birdie pins," Mickelson said when he finished.

Arnold Palmer Invitational final leaderboard:
-8 M Laird (Sco)
-7 S Marino (USA)
-6 J Rose (Eng)
-6 M Leishman (Aus)
-6 D Toms (USA)
-5 K J Choi (Kor)
-5 S Levin (USA)



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