The final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational did not disappoint as Rory McIlroy charged up the leaderboard and caught Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman at 10-under with four holes to go. The trio was jumped by Marc Leishman, who was only one back and made a 50-foot putt for eagle on the 16th to take sole possession of the lead at 11-under with two holes to play.
An unfortunate bogey on the 18th for McIlroy ended his chance at donning the new Arnold Palmer cardigan handed out to the winner, and a bogey on the 17th by Hoffman meant the only player left with a shot at catching Leishman was Kisner.
After his drive missed the fairway to the right on the 18th, Leishman was forced to take the water out of play and lay up short of the green. His chip onto the putting surface was beautiful and left him only four feet for par, which he made to get into the clubhouse at 11-under with a one-stroke lead over Kisner.
Kisner missed the fairway left but had a much better angle at the green for his second shot. Needing a birdie on the 18th to force a playoff, Kisner found a green-side bunker and was unable to hole his shot for birdie.
“Around here things can change so quick. You don’t have to hit that bad of a shot to make bogeys out there… I holed some good putts there on the last few holes. They all went in the middle of the hole, which was nice. Obviously the putter was there with me all week,” said Leishman after his win.
“I’ve been playing well all year… I’ve been driving it better than I ever have. It’s funny, this game’s a lot easier out of the fairway. That’s been probably the biggest difference. Then the putter. The putter has been amazing this year. The stats probably show that, especially this week. But I feel like all year it’s been really close and I just haven’t quite played how I wanted to on Sundays, but today was the day.”
The 33-year-old Leishman’s last win on the PGA Tour was five years ago at the 2012 Travelers Championship. The win also gets him into the Masters.
“Mr. Palmer was an awesome guy who I was lucky enough to meet a few times at this tournament. So obviously to honor him was huge. Another reason why it was so special this week is this is the first time I’ve won a tournament with my family here… It all came together, and to do it here especially on a Presidents Cup year as well. I was outside those standings, so to get back inside those is really good. And I guess the Masters too, I wasn’t in there. It’s just an unbelievable day.”