Matt Every always believed he would finally win on the PGA Tour. He could not have imagined it happening on Sunday at Bay Hill.
Nine shots out of the lead going into the weekend, still four shots behind Adam Scott going into the final round, Every took advantage of a surprising collapse by the Masters champion and held on to the end for a two-under 70 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Every made two bogeys in the last three holes, including a four-foot par putt he missed on the 18th hole. That forced him to wait 10 excruciating minutes to see if Keegan Bradley could force a playoff. Bradley’s 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole missed on the left-side.
Cocky by nature, Every choked back tears when he realized he had won in his 92nd try as a professional.
“It’s hard,” he said, stopping to compose himself. “It’s tough, man. You just never know if it’s going to happen. You get there so many times. It’s nice to get it done.” Scott, in his final tournament before he defends his title at Augusta National, came undone.
Along with two quick bogeys to start his round, he did not make a birdie over the final 14 holes. Nothing summed up his awful day like the par-five 16th, the easiest at Bay Hill. Every made a bogey to fall to 14-under par. Scott, playing behind him in the final group, had a 20-foot eagle putt on the 16th to tie for the lead. He ran it four feet by, and then missed that for a three-putt par.
Scott closed with a 76 to finish third. He had to win to reach No. 1 when he arrived at the Masters. Now, the No. 1 spot held by Tiger Woods for the last year will be up for grabs at Augusta among Woods, Scott and Henrik Stenson, who tied for fifth at Bay Hill.
Every grew up about 90 minutes away in Daytona Beach. This was the first PGA Tour event he attended as a kid, coming with his father to watch Mark Calcavecchia, his favorite player. After a wild final hour, Every donned the blue blazer on the 18th green and had an audience with The King — tournament host Arnold Palmer.
“I kept telling myself, ‘Maybe it’s going to be somewhere special,’” Every said about going for his first win. “This is really cool. I still can’t believe it.”
Every finished at 13-under 275, one shot ahead of Bradley, who needed two late birdies for a 72.
Until Sunday, about the only time Every made news on the PGA Tour was when he was arrested and jailed on a misdemeanor drug possession charge at the 2010 John Deere Classic after agents were called to a casino hotel because of a strong odor of marijuana coming from the room he was in.