Martin Laird overcame a stunning mini-collapse in Sunday’s final round to win the Arnold Palmer Classic at Bay Hill.
The Scotsman went from a three-shot lead to a three-shot deficit in a span of seven holes. He was three shots behind when he walked off the 14th green, but two shots ahead as he headed to the 17th tee. After 18, he was receiving personal congratulations from Palmer himself.
“That was a hell of a day,” Laird said. “That was a tough fight out there. It was a battle out there, but you know, it makes it even sweeter at the end when I got this trophy.”
In the toughest final round on the USPGA Tour this year, Laird was strong at the end, with two birdies and two clutch pars to close with a three-over 75, the highest final round by a winner in the 33-year history of Bay Hill.
That two-putt par on the 18th was just enough for a one-shot victory over Steve Marino, who lost three shots on two plugged lies in bunkers over the last four holes. Marino followed a double-bogey on the par-three 17th with an all-or-nothing shot over the water at the flag to within eight feet on the last hole for birdie and a 72.
Laird became the first European to win at Bay Hill. He now heads off to the Masters for the first major of the year, having felt like he just won one.
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