MARC Leishman has today won his second PGA Tour title and in doing so has become the third Australian to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, or its equivalent, with a one shot victory in Florida.
Leishman beat out Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman by a shot at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando.
The 33-year-old, who joins Rod Pampling and Jason Day as Australian winners of the event, began the final day three shots off the pace of Kisner and Hoffman although an early bogey had him even further behind.
But Leishman would steady the ship with birdies at the 4th and 6th holes before another at the 10th had him on the heels of the leaders.
MARC LEISHMAN HOLES A BOMB FOR EAGLE AT THE ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL:
The shot that would make the difference, however, would be a 50 foot eagle putt at the 16th hole which swept him to the lead and although he missed the fairway and green at the last he produced a delightful bump and run from just short of the green to set up an all-important par save to hold Kisner and Hoffman at bay.
For Leishman he not only secures a cheque for US$1, 566,000, he will move close to the top thirty in the world and is now assured of a start at the Masters having been outside the required qualifying criteria prior to this week.
He will take his career earnings on the PGA Tour to US$17,000,000 and this win adds to his international success of five wins in Australia, one in Korea and one in South Africa.
Leishman was playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the eighth consecutive occasion with a previous best of 3rd in 2011 but this week he stayed in touch throughout and took charge with his late brilliance on day four.
“I’ve been playing well all year,” said the winner. “I put the new Callaway driver in at the start of the year and it really has been a game changer. This game is certainly easier out of the fairway.
“The putter has been amazing this year also, especially this week, but all year it has been close and haven’t quite played how I have wanted to on Sundays.
“I have had quite a few chances to win this year. Going into Sundays I've been two, three, four back but basically every tournament.
“So, it is disappointing to do that, but you really learn stuff when you don't, when the outcome's not what you wanted it.
“And I felt like I learned a lot from those earlier in the year. I've been playing well, it's just a matter of putting four rounds together.
“The more you get yourself into that situation, the better you get and luckily those experiences from earlier this year paid off and I was able to make the putts when I needed to and walk away with this (Indicating the trophy). It's very nice.
“And like you said, the Masters is another, it was certainly a goal of mine to, I knew that the cut off was after the Match Play and I only had two events left, so I need to get it done or sit at home and watch the Masters, which is not fun if you've already been there and played there, because you know how cool it is to be there."
The significance and importance of his win in an Arnold Palmer inspired event was not lost on Leishman but it was also important for personal reasons as well.
“This is a special week. Mr Palmer was an awesome guy who I have been lucky enough to meet on several occasions at this tournament so to honour him has been huge.
“This is also the first time I have won a tournament with my family here so to have Audrey and the boys and my caddy Matty has had his family here also so it has been an awesome week.”
The illness suffered by his wife Audrey two years ago has been well documented but toxic shock syndrome so nearly took her life that Leishman does tend to see things from a different perspective these days.
“It's been a wild ride and you certainly do appreciate the good times a lot more and appreciate just everything, your kids and your family and just having people around,” hem said.
“It's just great to be able to share this with someone. If it was just me, it wouldn't be anywhere near as fun, if they weren't with me.
“If Audrey had have passed away, I was going to be a dad and that was it. There was no other sort of -- it didn't cross my mind to keep playing golf.
“So, that first six months, just every time I was on the golf course I was just so happy to be on a golf course and be healthy and all that.
“Obviously, your perspective doesn't stay like that for a long period of time, I feel like I've still got a very good perspective, but yeah, it's, it can be life, it's life changing. Something like that.”
Rory McIlroy and Tyrell Hatton tied for 4th while Greg Chalmers was the next best of the Australians after Leishman when he tied for 17th.
Defending champion Jason Day finished 23rd, Cameron Smith 34th, Aaron Baddeley 41st and Ryan Ruffels 56th.
Day will now slip to the world number three position after McIlroy's share of 4th moves him past the Australian into the number two spot.
The PGA Tour will next play the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin Texas and the Puerto Rico Open.
FINAL ROUND HIGHLIGHTS ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL:
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