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.