FLORIDA — Australian Marc Leishman sank a monster eagle putt at the par-five 16th and stormed to a one-stroke victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida on Sunday.
With a finish that would have earned the approval of the late tournament host, Leishman sank a 50-footer dead center and then made clutch up-and-down pars at the final two holes to secure the win at Bay Hill.
The 33-year-old carded 69 to finish on 11-under-par 277 for the tournament, clinching his second PGA Tour victory and an invitation to the April 6-9 US Masters.
Overnight leaders Charley Hoffman and Kevin Kisner, who both hit 73s, finished tied for second on 10-under. Rory McIlroy, who will move up from third to second in the world rankings behind Dustin Johnson, needed a birdie at the last to draw level with Leishman but three-putted to finish two strokes behind after carding a 69.
Leishman blew away a strong field to win the Nedbank Challenge by six strokes on the European Tour in South Africa 15 months ago but this was his first PGA Tour victory since his maiden triumph at Hartford in 2012.
And it was Leishman’s first victory in the US since his wife nearly died of toxic shock two years ago. She is now healthy again and pregnant with their third child.
Leishman also took time to pay his respects to Palmer, who died in September at the age of 87. “Mr. Palmer was an awesome guy who I was lucky enough to meet a few times at this tournament,” he said.
Lehman rallies to beat Stricker in Tucson
Tom Lehman took advantage of senior newcomer Steve Stricker’s late mistakes Sunday to win the Tucson Conquistadores Classic for his 10th PGA Tour Champions victory.
Two strokes behind Stricker with three holes to play, Lehman closed with two birdies and a par for a 7-under 66 and a one-stroke victory over playing partner Stricker. The 58-year-old Lehman is coming off arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Stricker followed his second-round 63 with a 70. He was trying to become the 19th player to win in his first start on the 50-and-over tour and first since Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2014. Lehman erased a three-stroke deficit on the first two holes. He went birdie-eagle, and Stricker opened with his first bogey of the week.
Bernhard Langer broke the tour record for consecutive rounds under par at 32, shooting a 65 to finish third at 15 under. Gil Morgan set the previous mark in 2000. Colin Montgomerie has 30 straight sub-par rounds. He didn’t play the event.
Fred Couples (70), Billy Andrade (70) and Gene Sauers (69) were 14 under. Bob Estes (67) tied for 23rd at 8 under in his senior debut.
Nordqvist holds off strong field to win Founders Cup
Anna Nordqvist closed with a four-under 68 at the LPGA Tour’s Founders Cup on Sunday to hold off a trio of former major champions and earn her first victory of 2017.
Over the four days, Nordqvist posted 26 birdies, one eagle and just three bogeys to finish at 25-under 263, two shots better than Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, South Korean Chun In-Gee and Stacy Lewis of the US.
This is the first win for the 29-year-old Swede since the debacle at the 2016 US Women’s Open in July where she was assessed a two-stroke penalty in the playoff which allowed Brittany Lang to the claim the title.
“Of all the wins this is probably one of the ones that’s going to be more special,” she said.
Nordqvist’s score to par came within two strokes of the LPGA record of 27-under set in 2001 by fellow Swede Annika Sorenstam and matched last year by Kim Sei-Young. All three rounds took place in Phoenix.
The win was the seventh on the USLPGA Tour and ninth internationally for Nordqvist, who played American college Golf at nearby Arizona State.
Former US Women’s Open winner Chun, reigning Women’s British Open champion Ariya and 2011 ANA Inspiration winner Lewis all tried but failed to catch Nordqvist.
Chun rolled in six birdies in her bogey-free final round of 66. Nordqvist’s 25-foot birdie putt at 17 made for a ceremonial walk down the 18th fairway that even a bogey couldn’t spoil.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, shot 68 and finished 20-under in a bogey-free tournament. Michelle Wie, in contention the first two days, shot final rounds of 72 and 70 and finished tied for 35th after she bogeyed her final two holes on Sunday.