With a sand recovery on the 72nd hole, Jason Day won the Arnold Palmer Invitational Sunday at the Bay Hill Club. Day finished with a 17-under par 271.
Day led at the end of all four rounds, but the final day presented challenges for the Australian. American Kevin Chappell, seeking his first career PGA Tour victory, actually led by one stroke going into his final hole.
On the 458-yard par four final hole, the most difficult on the course, Chappell sent his tee shot wide right into the rough. All he could do was lay up and hope to make a putt to save par. His 25-footer was well short.
While Chappell was having his troubles on 18, Day rolled in a 12-foot putt for birdie on the 17th hole to go to 17-under, putting him in the lead. Day’s playing partner, Troy Merritt, was in contention until the final hole. After chipping in to save par on 17, Merritt put his second shot into the water on 18.
Merritt finished at 14-under along with Henrik Stenson. The 2015 (British) Open Champion, Zach Johnson, finished fifth at 12 under.
Although Day actually led wire-to-wire, he was often in trouble on Sunday. He shot a final round 70 (two under par), but had to overcome three bogeys on the front nine.
Day hit a miraculous shot out of the rough on the ninth to within a foot of the hole for a tap in birdie. Like Chappell, he also sent his drive on 18 into the right hand rough.
His second shot landed in a greenside bunker, but Day blasted from the sand to within three feet of the hole. Day calmly sank the putt for the victory.
“I just grinded it out today,” said Day. “It wasn’t the best day that I had, but was just able to get it done when I wasn’t quite on.”
With the victory, Day moved up the world rankings, trading places with Rory McIlroy. After a miserable first round, McIlroy recovered to finish tied for 27th at six under par.