Marc Leishman has walked away wearing the red cardigan to honour Arnold Palmer after a stunning win at Bay Hill.
Marc Leishman has notched up his second win on the US PGA Tour win after a dramatic finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, beating Americans Charley Hoffman and Kevin Kisner by one stroke.
The American duo of Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman held the lead for most of the day and with Rory McIlroy charging up the leaderboard in the blustery conditions at Bay Hill, few were expecting Australian Marc Leishman to steal the show in such dramatic fashion.
Late bogeys to McIlroy and American Kevin Kisner meant the scene was set for a tight finish and a playoff was looking likely until Leishman dropped a bomb for eagle at the 16th to roar into the lead.
“I didn’t know where I was situated. I knew I was a few back, the last time I saw the leaderboard I think Charlie and Kiz were both a few ahead.” Leishman said.
“But over that putt all I was thinking was, don’t leave it short, because I knew the line. And it was uphill into the grain and I wanted to give it a chance. I didn’t want to — there’s nothing worse than losing by a shot and having left a putt short in the jaws late in a tournament.”
Holding a one-shot lead, Leishman’s tee shot at the par-3 17th hole rolled into the back bunker. But a wonderful up-and-down after holing a clutch two-metre putt for par meant Leishman still held the lead going to the 18th.
A wayward tee shot meant 33-year-old Leishman could only get his ball to the front fringe for his second shot where his clutch shot game once again took centre stage.
A sweet chip shot meant Leishman needed to hole a three-footer to become the second Australian to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in consecutive years after Jason Day won the same event last year.
As Leishman stepped over the five-footer, Leishman would later tell media that he told himself his five-year-old son Harvey could make this putt before claiming the trophy and donning the inaugural red cardigan Arnold Palmer made famous.
Leishman’s last victory was in South Africa at the Nedbank Challenge but it has been five years since victory on the PGA Tour and lots of personal drama including the birth of his two sons and the near-death of his wife Audrey.
“Yeah, a lot’s happened since then. Five years, it’s yeah see, it doesn’t feel that long ago. But, yeah, a lot’s happened, obviously with Audrey and the two boys now, a girl on the way.” L:eishman said.
“My son keeps reminding me that it’s been awhile since I won. He says, “Daddy, why don’t you ever win the trophy?” So that’s nice to get that now, to go and get that trophy. So I’m just so excited and so happy that, especially in a week honoring such a champion guy like Mr. Palmer.”
Leishman will now head to next week’s WGC Dell Match Play tournament full of confidence. And now with a spot in the field at the Masters Tournament, just three weeks away, Australian hopes of another green jacket winner have just been given a huge boost.
“It gets me into the Masters, which you got to be in them to try and win them. So playing like I did this week certainly gives me confidence.” Leishman said.
“Those golf courses are on a different level. This was tough, but they’re tougher.”
Marc Leishman comments after his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. https://t.co/amo6qsaMSw
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 19, 2017