On a day when Rory McIlroy charged from behind and third-round co-leaders Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman had their moments atop the leaderboard, it was Marc Leishman who found a way to win.
The 33-year old Australian had not qualified for The Masters until he won at Bay Hill, holing a long eagle putt on the 16th hole to go from one stroke behind to one ahead with two holes remaining.
With the course getting more difficult in the afternoon as the greens got firmer, Kisner, McIlroy and Hoffman each dropped shots over the closing holes, allowing Leishman to seize the opportunity no one else seemed capable of taking. He edged Kisner and Hoffman by a stroke, while McIlroy finished two back after three-putting the 72nd hole.
“I had it right in the palm of my hand and I didn’t get it done,” said Kisner, who shot 2 over on the final nine holes.
Leishman has been a consistently good player, nearly winning the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews, but for two years he has been focused on helping his wife, Audrey, as she has dealt with a nearly fatal case of toxic shock syndrome and its subsequent effects.
With his wife and two children with him at Bay Hill, Leishman started the final round three strokes behind and his closing 3-under 69 was among the day’s finest rounds. It included a critical par save from a greenside bunker at the par-3 17th hole to maintain his one-stroke advantage.
Marc Leishman comments after his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Posted by PGA TOUR on Sunday, March 19, 2017
“We’ve never been there when he’s won. For the past year, (son) Harvey has been asking Marc, ‘Daddy, why don’t you ever win the trophy?’ So it’s been a real dream and a real motivation for him to win a trophy for Harvey and for all of us,” Audrey Leishman said.