Martin Laird became the first European winner of golf’s Arnold Palmer Invitational to give Scotland a pair of champions on the same day.
Laird made par at the final hole yesterday for a one-shot win over Steve Marino at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida. Hours earlier, his countryman and 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie ended a nine-year title drought with a one-shot victory at the European Tour’s Andalucia Open in Spain.
Laird, who began the day with a two-stroke lead, shot a 3-over-par 75 to finish at 8-under-par 280. It was the highest final round to win in 33 editions of the tournament. Laird looked to have blown his chance to secure a second U.S. PGA Tour win after playing the first 11 holes in 5-over par. He said his errors didn’t make him doubt that he’d win.
“I said to my caddy ‘I’ve got two par-5s left, I’ve been killing them all week,’ and he pointed to my putter and said ‘you’ve got this, too,’” Laird, 28, told NBC in a televised interview. “It paid off in the end.”
Marino finished in second place, missing out on his breakthrough win on the tour after an even-par final round 72.
Laird earned $1.08 million with the win. The first Scot to play full time on the PGA Tour since Sandy Lyle, Laird’s prior win on the world’s richest golf circuit came at the 2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
His score of 75 is the highest final round to win a title on the tour since Trevor Immelman shot the same number to win the 2008 Masters Tournament.
Tiger Woods finished in a tie for 24th place. The world No. 5 began the day at 1-under par and moved to 4-under through 16 holes.
He then bogeyed the par-3 17th hole after his tee shot landed in a bunker and had a double bogey at the last after his second shot found a water hazard. Woods didn’t let his finish upset him.
“It was a very good week,” he told reporters. “I really hit the ball well and the things that we were working on the last couple weeks, really, really felt comfortable.”
Marino scored double bogey at the 17th to leave Laird two shots ahead. The 31-year-old American then birdied the last hole to force Laird to score par at No. 18 to win.
Laird’s final tee shot ran through the fairway into deep rough. He left his 137-yard (125 meter) second shot on the green, 86 feet from the pin. He rolled his first putt to about four feet and holed out for the victory.