Martin Laird went from a shocking collapse to an unlikely winner Sunday at Bay Hill.
In the toughest final round on the PGA Tour this year, Laird rallied from a three-shot deficit with four holes to play with two birdies and two remarkable pars to close with a 3-over 75 and win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla., by one shot over Steve Marino.
The 28-year-old Scot became the first European to win at Bay Hill in its 33-year history.
Laird’s two-shot lead was gone at the turn, and when he pulled a bunker shot into the water on No. 11 to make double bogey, he already was 5-over par for his round and fading quickly.
After a bogey on the par-3 14th to fall three shots behind Marino, Laird holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 15th, an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th, saved par from behind the 17th green and two-putted from just inside 90 feet on the final hole. It was the highest score in the final round by a Bay Hill champion. Laird finished at 8-under 280.
Laird needed some help from Marino, who took bogey from a plugged lie in the bunker short of the 15th green, then made double bogey from a plugged lie in the sand short of the 17th hole.
Justin Rose closed with a 68 to tie for third with David Toms (72) and Marc Leishman (71) at 6 under.
Tiger Woods was poised for a second straight top 10 until he made bogey from the bunker on the 17th and hit his approach into the water on No. 18 for double bogey and a 72. Woods tied for 24th, seven shots behind.
Sandra Gal won the Kia Classic to become the second German winner in LPGA Tour history, beating second-ranked Jiyai Shin with a 2-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
Gal, 25, made the winning putt after Shin’s 5-foot birdie attempt caught the edge and spun out.
Gal closed with a 2-under 71 to finish at 16-under 276 on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms in Industry, Calif.
Tina Fischer is the only other German champion. She won the 2001 Asahi Ryokuken International.
Shin, an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour, finished with a 73.