Scottie Scheffler was the last man standing on the brutal Bay Hill on Sunday and shot a par 72 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational by one strike.
Scheffler’s five-under-par total of 283 was enough to earn his second win in three starts, after taking his first US PGA Tour title at the Phoenix Open in February.
He had three birdies and three bogeys on windswept Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, and kept coming in steadily as difficult conditions, exacerbated by glassy greens and deep rough, saw his pursuers falter.
Former FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel started the day tied for a lead and had a chance to force a playoff at 18. But he couldn’t drop his 29-foot birdie putt and signed for a three-over par 75 which left him second cuts at 284.
Norwegian Viktor Hovland tied the lead on a birdie at 16, but bogeyed on the par-three 17th out of a bunker on the greenside and finished with a two-over 74 for 284. England’s Tyrrell Hatton was sitting also in the group that came in second after an impressive three-under par 69.
Scheffler’s win was a testament to his perseverance, especially as he said his game wasn’t that great.
“I didn’t swing the club off the tee at all today,” Scheffler said. “I hit a lot of bad spots, but I just kept grinding. I made some key putts there towards the end and two great lag putts to kind of close out the round. †
Two furious to start the round, Scheffler was one-over through nine holes after two birdies and three bogeys. He rolled into a five-foot birdie putt on the 12th to return to five-under.
He drove a 21-foot par-saving putt on the 15th, and a test six-footer for par on 16. He two-putt from 46 feet at the par-three 17th and from 69 feet at the last to get into the clubhouse to come with the leadership.
“I’d say the couples at 17 and 18 were gut control,” Scheffler said. “The last piece here is so brutal – 15, 17 and 18 are such hard holes.”
Horschel was the only one who could catch him then. He looked to be out after four bogeys and a double bogey with just one birdie in his first 10 holes.
Birdies on the 12th and 15th had Horschel back in the hunt, but he couldn’t find another birdie in the last three holes.
Starting day one back, Hovland led off with six straight pairs before putting his tee shot within two feet on the par-three seventh for birdie. Then came back-to-back bogeys on eight and nine, a birdie on 11 and two more bogeys on 13 and 15 before a birdie on 16 put him back in the lead.
He couldn’t hold the pressure though, dropping a shot at 17 when unable to bounce up and down from a greenside bunker and settling for par from the rim at 18.
“I hit the ball beautifully at the start, I just couldn’t make putts to get the momentum going,” Hovland said, adding that the unpredictable wins made for a “guessing game” on the already demanding course.
“It’s just a test of patience,” he said. “You have to make a few putts in the end and make sure everything goes as planned to win here.”
Gary Woodland, who was looking for his first win since his 2019 US Open victory, jumped into the lead in 16th with a 24-foot eagle putt.
But it took two shots to get out of a bunker on the greenside on his way to a double bogey at 17 and settled for a one-over 73, which left him level with Chris Kirk (72) at 285.