Jason Day of Australia came through a tough battle to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Florida by a single shot from Kevin Chappell of the USA.
Jason Day held the 54-hole lead at Bay Hill but he struggled with his swing on the final day. His lead was gone on the front nine as Kevin Chappell, Troy Merritt and Henrik Stenson all enjoyed stints at the top of the leaderboard.
But the Australian saved his best for last as he closed out the tournament with two clutch shots. He was one behind Kevin Chappell with two holes to play after the American had birdied the 16th. Day fired an excellent tee shot to the par-3 17th as Chappell, playing ahead, was struggling on the 18th.
As Chappell stood over a 25-foot par putt on the final green a cheer went up from the 17th as Day sent his birdie putt home.
“That kind of had me rattled a bit,” Chappell admitted afterwards.
That two-shot swing meant that Day needed par at the home hole to claim an eighth PGA Tour victory. He did it the hard way. Firing his approach into the greenside bunker, he was left with a testing up-and-down to take the title. He played a superb bunker shot to within four-feet of the cup and holed out for par and the win.
“I knew it was a good shot,” he said. “It was exactly what I wanted to do.”
4 Talking points from the Arnold Palmer Invitational
1 – With the victory Jason Day has climbed back above Rory McIlroy to second place on the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s now less than a point behind Jordan Spieth. Day joins a long list of players on great form as the Masters approaches. He, Charl Schwartzel and Adam Scott have all been winners during the Florida Swing – it’s the first time since 1993 that all four of the Florida events have been won by Major champions.
2 – Troy Merritt made a significant charge on the back nine. He started the run for home with five straight birdies, including a hole-out from the greenside bunker on the 14th. He then chipped in for par on the 17th and went to the final hole just one behind playing partner Day. But his run came to an end on the home hole as his approach found the water. The resulting double bogey meant he dropped back into a tie for third place with Henrik Stenson. Still, he can be pleased with the week – it comes on the back of five missed cuts in the last six events.
3 – Henrik Stenson just missed out again at Bay Hill. The Swede has now finished third (this year), second, fifth and eighth in his last four starts in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He had a chance on Sunday but it went at the 16th when he found the water. He admitted afterwards that his game had been on something of a knife-edge through the week.
“I never felt 100%. I’ve had a bit of a two-way miss going and that never builds confidence,” he said.
Henrik Stenson swing sequence:
4 – After finishing in a tie for 27th, Rory McIlroy spoke of his inconsistency so far this season.
“It’s nothing to do with me technically,” he said. “It’s more mental… I’m beating myself up over mistakes that I’m making on the course and then I’m not letting myself get over it so that it sort of lingers there for the next few holes.”
The Northern Irishman has three weeks to sort those psychological issues out before the year’s first Major at Augusta.
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Purse $6,300,000, par 72
1 Jason Day (Aus) 66 65 70 70 271 $1,134,000
2 Kevin Chappell (USA) 68 68 67 69 272 $680,400
T3 Troy Merritt (USA) 67 69 67 71 274 $365,400
T3 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 67 66 70 71 274 $365,400
5 Zach Johnson (USA) 70 70 68 68 276 $252,000
T6 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 70 69 73 65 277 $211,050
T6 Jamie Lovemark (USA) 68 68 71 70 277 $211,050
T6 Hideki Matsuyama (Jap) 70 69 71 67 277 $211,050
T9 Paul Casey (Eng) 68 69 72 69 278 $170,100
T9 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 68 72 69 69 278 $170,100
T9 Justin Rose (Eng) 68 66 71 73 278 $170,100
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage