Leishman – file photo
Marc Leishman has fallen just short of winning his second tournament of 2020 but by finishing in outright second position at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando the 36 year old Victorian will improve to 15th place in the world ranking, his highest ranking since winning this same event two years ago.
Leishman fell one short of forcing Englishman, Tyrrell Hatton into a playoff where Hatton proved to be the last man standing on a week where only four players would finish the event under par.
In fact, so demanding was the Bay Hill Club and Lodge layout that only one player, Matthew Fitzpatrick, would break 70 on Sunday.
Hatton was chasing his first PGA Tour title in his 60th start and after a shaky start to his final round he appeared to have things under control until driving it in the water at the 11th and taking double bogey.
He steadied the ship over his closing seven holes with a series of pars and no dropped shots however and as his challengers dropped off he was able to hold on under the greatest of pressure from Leishman who was looking to not only win this event for the second occasion but to add even greater accolades to his role of tournament ambassador for the week.
For Hatton, the victory helped overcome the perception that his volatile personality would count against him over the closing stages and the quality of the shots he hit over the final few holes proved to many, including himself, he had what it takes to win at the highest level.
“Yeah, it was really tough out there and obviously I was getting frustrated at times, but nowhere near the blow-ups that I am capable of,” said Hatton.
“And it’s just one of those days where you just got to stick in there, and patience is one of the hardest things with me. To think that I’ve shot, what was it? 3-over for the weekend and ended up winning the tournament.
“If you told me that on Friday night I wouldn’t have believed you. But it just shows how tough it was. And obviously, like I said earlier, I’m very thankful to sit next to this trophy.”
For Leishman he gave it his best shot and came up just short, but not only does he improve to 15th in the world ranking but he jumps to 7th in the FedEx Cup table and picks up another US$1 million for his second place finish.
“No, I never give up,” said Leishman. “I said to Matty — we were walking down 16, I said, Of all the courses on the PGA TOUR, this is the last one you’d pick if you had a two-shot lead your three to go.
“So, Tyrell never gave up. He did what he needed to do there at the end. Great par on 18 particularly. That’s a brutal hole, tough pin placement, you have to really hold your shot. So yeah, made it interesting. Would have been nice if that putt would have dropped on 17. I felt pretty good when I hit it.
“Not to be. But happy with the week. With really tough conditions, I played probably as good as I played for quite a while. So, it was good to play well under pressure there too at the end. So, yeah, happy with the week and all credit to Tyrell.”
Matt Jones was the next best of the Australians when he finished in 47th place but New Zealander Danny Lee tied for 5th and earned one of the three starts from this event for the Open Championship in July.