In a day filled with pure chaos and countless lead changes, Scottie Scheffler (+1600) pieced together an even-par 72 final round to win the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Scheffler managed to escape with a bogey-free back nine en route to his second PGA Tour win in his last three events.
Over the course of a wildly entertaining final round at Bay Hill, several players had an opportunity to put their foot down and take control of the tournament. However, against a U.S. Open-type track filled with punishing rough and rapid greens, gaining ground felt seemingly impossible for the afternoon pairings. The average score on Sunday was 75.46, while six players shot 80 or higher and only four broke even.
In the end, Scheffler held on for a one-shot victory to move to No. 5 in the world rankings — but not without a remarkable rollercoaster ride of a finish filled with heartbreak.
RECAP OF THE DRAMA
Gary Woodland entered Sunday three shots back of the lead at four under, looking for his first win since taking home the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. That course is an appropriate comparison to a rugged Bay Hill course this week.
Woodland fought his way through the front nine and vaulted into the lead after an enormous eagle on the par-5 16th hole. From a sandy lie well right of the fairway, Woodland perfectly struck a 6-iron to 25 feet and sunk the putt to jump into first place. Big fist pump from Gary.
Sadly, Woodland’s lead would not last for too long, as he went on to double bogey the par-3 17th after taking two shots to get out of the bunker. Woodland then missed a five-foot bogey putt, abruptly putting an end to his chances of taking home the tournament. Woodland finished in a tie for fifth place with Chris Kirk at three under.
“I’m glad I’m off that golf course,” Woodland said after the round. “I’m glad I’m done. Frustrating. I played a lot better than the score showed… but it stings right now. I need a day off… it just beats you up out there.”
University of Florida grad Billy Horschel was tied atop the leaderboard heading into the final round, but got off to a horrendous start by shooting five over through the opening 10 holes. Despite such a disheartening start, Horschel rallied down the stretch and cut his deficit to just one coming into the final hole.
“I knew I was still in it on No. 11 tee,” Horschel said. “I just needed to play a really clean round coming in, and I did that. I made two birdies. I don’t give in. I don’t give up. I’m going to battle ’til the end.”
Ultimately, Horschel simply ran out of holes, as he missed a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to force a playoff. Horschel’s final-round 75 placed him in a three-way tie for second place at four under.
Perhaps the largest heartbreak of the tournament belongs to Viktor Hovland, who held the lead for a majority of the weekend at Bay Hill. In fact, at one point during Saturday’s round, the 24-year-old Norwegian found himself sitting at 10 under.
Hovland held a share of the lead through 16 holes on Sunday — but like Woodland — found trouble in the bunker on the par-3 17th. From a tricky, downhill lie, Hovland placed his shot out of the sand to 50 feet, leading to a two-putt bogey. Hovland had a chance of forcing a playoff on 18, but left his birdie putt short to secure the win for Scheffler.
“Obviously, I’m playing some great golf, but this one stings,” Hovland said. “My last couple wins, I felt like it kind of came out of nowhere. This one was more like I felt like I should have won. Those sting a little bit.”
Scottie Saves Par
While most of the final players on the course were heading in the wrong direction, Scheffler found ways to string together a few timely (and nearly impossible) par saves down the stretch on Sunday.
None were more significant than Scheffler’s save on the par-4 15th, getting up-and-down from 149 yards out with bogey staring him right in the face. Scheffler sank a 20-foot putt after muscling a shot up to the green to remain five under.
Fittingly, Scheffler wrapped up his round by saving par on 18 with a two-putt from 70 feet, which was no easy task on those slick Bay Hill greens. Each and every time Scheffler needed to make a par on Sunday, he found a way to get the job done. That ended up being the difference in one of the toughest non-major tournaments that golf has seen in quite some time.
Scheffler took home the trophy and a new red signature red cardigan.
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