Martin Laird made it a “Double Scotch” over the weekend. After Paul Lawrie’s victory in the Open de Andalucia on the European Tour, Laird captured the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Laird began the final day with a two-shot lead over Spencer Levin but a nervy start saw his advantage quickly eliminated as the contest turned into a battle for survival.
Levin played himself out of the running with five bogeys in a front nine of 41. Laird fared only slightly better, reaching the turn in 39. The Scot looked to have lost his chance on the 11th as he found the water en-route to a double-bogey six.
Steve Marino was playing the best golf of the leading group. He was two-under-par for the final round through 14 holes and, at that point, he held a three-stroke lead. But the American made a bogey at the 15th before Laird made birdies at the 15th and 16th to tie things up. Marino then made a complete mess of the par-3 17th. He played his tee shot through the green and took four more to get down, racking up a double-bogey five.
That gave Laird a two-shot advantage once more – Quite incredible considering he was three-over-par for the final round. Marino managed to get one back with a fine birdie at the last but, after a good par save at the 17th, Laird needed just a par at the final hole to become the first ever European winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
He bombed a drive straight down the middle but struck it too well and it ran out of fairway. He was forced to go for the left half of the green from a thick lie in the rough and that left him a huge snaking putt across the final green. He judged it well and left it three feet short of the cup. He calmly knocked it in and the title was his.
“That was a hell of a day,” Laird said. “That was a tough fight out there. It was a battle, but you know, it makes it even sweeter at the end when I got this trophy.”
With the win Laird has climbed to 21st on the Official World Golf Ranking.
As the leading players faltered, others made progress through the field. Justin Rose fired a closing 68 to end the week in a tie for third while Sergio Garcia shot a 70 to finish in eighth.
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Mar 24-27, purse $6,000,000 par 72
1 Martin Laird (Sco) 70 65 70 75 280 $1,080,000
2 Steve Marino (USA) 71 67 71 72 281 $648,000
T3 Marc Leishman (Aus) 73 72 66 71 282 $312,000
T3 Justin Rose (Eng) 72 72 70 68 282 $312,000
T3 David Toms (USA) 74 67 69 72 282 $312,000
T6 KJ Choi (Kor) 72 64 76 71 283 $208,500
T6 Spencer Levin (USA) 66 70 71 76 283 $208,500
8 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 73 68 73 70 284 $186,000
Note: Player in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only