ORLANDO, Fla. -- Despite playing his first 11 holes in 5-over par, Martin Laird recovered with two late birdies and clutch pars over the final two holes to earn his second career victory Sunday at Bay Hill.
Laird’s 3-over 75 was the highest winning score in the tournament’s history, eclipsing a 74 shot by Dave Eichelberger in 1980 and Mike Nicolette in 1983.
On a day more befitting a U.S. Open, Bay Hill played nearly 1 1/2 strokes over par in the final round as the leaders steadily went backwards as the wind increased and the greens firmed up throughout the afternoon.
At one point, Laird was passed by Steve Marino, who got to as low as 9 under before giving a shot back on No. 15 and two shots back on the par-3 17th, where his tee shot buried in the bunker.
Meanwhile, Laird fell all the way back to 6 under twice on the back nine before a birdie on No. 15 and another on the 16th.
Marino responded by sticking his approach shot to 8 feet on the 18th hole to set up a birdie to finish with an even-par 72 that got him in the clubhouse ahead of Laird at 7 under.
Leading by one and needing to get up-and-down from the back of the green to save par on the par-3 17th, Laird chipped to 5 feet and sank the putt.
The Scot then came to the 18th hole, where he hit his driver through the fairway and into the rough. Laird was forced to play to the front of the green, leaving himself 87 feet to the hole. He rolled his putt to within a few feet, however, and made the next one for the win.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Martin Laird leads by two shots. How long he does, we’re about to find out.
Steve Marino has a birdie opportunity on 18 after hitting his approach shot to 8 feet. Laird, meanwhile, saw his tee shot on the par-3 17th bounce off the back of the green and he’ll face a difficult up-and-down toward the water.
Laird is bidding to become the first European to win this tournament, while Marino is trying to win on the PGA TOUR for the first time in his career. Stay tuned.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- What a bizarre final round.
Martin Laird, who began the day with a two-shot lead before playing his first 11 holes in 5 over, is suddenly back in the lead at 7 under after a birdie at No. 15.
Steve Marino, meanwhile, has dropped back to 6 under, along with David Toms. They were 9 and 8 under for the tournament at one point Sunday.
Justin Rose and Marc Leishman are both in the clubhouse at 6 under -- and not out of it yet.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- That once two-shot lead Martin Laird had? Gone.
Laird just fell to 8 under after his third bogey of the front nine as he failed to save par from a greenside bunker on No. 9.
At almost the same time, Steve Marino birdied No. 10, where he stuck his approach shot to inside 4 feet before rolling in the putt to get to 2 under on the day and 9 under for the week.
Justin Rose and K.J. Choi might not be out of it either. Both are quickly running out of holes, but both are also 6 under and just three shots back.
David Toms, meanwhile, fell back to 6 under after a double bogey on No. 8, where he was forced to pitch back into the fairway after an errant tee shot then missed the green long on his approach.
It’s been a wild weekend at Bay Hill and that seems to be continuing today. -- Brian Wacker
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Martin Laird has already qualified for the Masters.
Plenty of others behind him on the leaderboard have not, including Spencer Levin, Marc Leishman and Augusta, Ga., native Charles Howell III. All three need a win to get into the field since none of them has a chance to be in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings by Sunday night.
If none of them gets it this week, they’ll have one more opportunity in next week’s Shell Houston Open, where all three are in the field.
Levin, of course, is also trying to win for the first time on the PGA TOUR after a couple of near-misses -- but Augusta National won’t be too far removed from his thoughts.
"It's in the back of my mind for sure," said Levin, who has never played in the Masters. “I'm sure it is for everybody who is in my position and needs a win to get there.”
Howell is trying to get to his hometown event for the first time since 2008 after falling all the way to 149th in the world.
Leishman and Senden are both looking for return invitations to Augusta National, too. Leishman missed the cut last year in his only appearance there, while Senden missed the cut in his two appearances.
Then there’s J.B. Holmes. He’s pretty much the only player who could move inside the top 50 in the World Rankings to qualify for the Masters.
Depending on some other things, it looks like Holmes, who has only played in one Masters, would need to finish fourth or better. He’s currently tied for 16th and 1 under through four holes today. -- Brian Wacker
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Martin Laird leads by two in today’s final round at Bay Hill, where Tiger Woods had a rare early tee time for a Sunday. Can Laird win for the second time in his career on the PGA TOUR, or will Spencer Levin catch him? Or will it be someone like Bubba Watson or Rickie Fowler? The supposed 20-mph winds that were supposed to come today haven’t so far.
-- Martin Laird has now held at least a share of the 54-hole lead three times in his PGA TOUR career. In both of his previous 54-hole leads, he eventually lost in a playoff. He led by three strokes after 54 holes in 2010 at The Barclays before a final-round 71 led to a playoff loss to Matt Kuchar. Later in 2010, he carried a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open before a final-round 69 led to a playoff loss to Jonathan Byrd.
-- Laird has three top-10s in seven previous starts this season. He has top-25 finishes in four of his last five starts, including top-10s in his last two starts: T10-WGC-Cadillac Championship and T5-Transitions Championship.
-- Laird finished 74th last year in his only other start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (2010).
-- The 54-hole leader/co-leader of the Arnold Palmer Invitational has previously gone on to win 20 of 45 times, most recently Ernie Els in 2010.
-- In 72-hole stroke-play events, the third-round leader has held on to victory six of 12 times so far this year.
-- The last player to make the Arnold Palmer Invitational his first TOUR win was Paul Goydos in 1996.
-- So far this year, Levin has collected two top-10 finishes, a T4 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and then a playoff loss to Johnson Wagner at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
-- Levin is making his first start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He is seeking to become the first player since Robert Gamez in 1990 to win in his first start at the event.
-- In 2010, Levin ranked No. 1 on TOUR in rounds in the 60s (52/31 events) and rounds under par (66), as well as T1 in cuts made (24).
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Bubba Watson just bombed in a 38-foot birdie butt on the 18th hole, and Martin Laird just bogeyed the par-3 14th after missing the green, but Bay Hill has turned into a bit of a two man race between Laird and Spencer Levin.
Laird and Levin are tied at 11 under, and Watson is in the clubhouse at 7 under after a 68. Rickie Fowler is also at 7 under with two holes left in what’s been a wild round for the 22-year old. But no one has been able to catch Laird or Levin.
Laird has hit every fairway and 10 of 14 greens in regulation, but he hasn’t exactly putted great with 23 putts so far -- he hasn’t made anything longer than 8 feet.
Levin, on the other hand, recovered nicely from an early bogey on No. 2 and has made four birdies since. One of those came courtesy of a chip-in on No. 3.
In case you’re wondering, the largest 54-hole lead ever in this event is six shots by Fred Couples in 1992 and Mike Nicolette in 1983.
The biggest comeback in the final round? Six shots by Gary Koch in 1984 and Tom Kite in 1982. -- Brian Wacker
The third round is in full swing at Bay Hill, were Martin Laird leads by one over Spencer Levin and K.J. Choi. Steve Marino, Charles Howell III and Hunter Mahan are a few of the players in contention. Tiger Woods is also on the golf course. Click here for live scores.