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Late eagle lifts Leishman to victory at Bay Hill

Reuters

Marc Leishman poses on the green with the champion trophy and his family after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday at Orlando, Fla.

The Associated PressORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Marc Leishman holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole to take the lead Sunday, and he stayed there with two tough pars at the end to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational and earn a trip to the Masters.

In a final hour that featured four players having at least a share of the lead, Leishman is the only one who didn’t blink.

His final act at Bay Hill was a par putt for a 3-under 69 and one-shot victory over Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman.

The only thing missing was a handshake from the King. This was the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since the September death of the beloved tournament host.

“You see guys win and he’s waiting there on the back of the green,” Leishman said. “And to not have that is obviously very sad, but to win here is just a dream come true.”

Rory McIlroy had as good a chance as anyone, storming into a share of the lead by hooking a wedge around a tree, over the water and over the green on the 16th, then nearly holing the eagle chip.

He had a 30-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead on the 18th, and after seeing that Leishman had made eagle on the 16th, gave it a good run. The putt went eight feet by and he three-putted for a 69 to finish two shots back.

“These things happen,” McIlroy said. “But I’m pleased with how I went. Ten under for the weekend around here is good scoring, and I can take a lot of positives from it going into next week.”

The timing was ideal for Leishman, beyond what he described as an honor to win at Bay Hill in the first tournament without Palmer. Instead of a blue blazer, the winner this year received a red cardigan sweater that Palmer favored.

And instead of seeing Palmer, Leishman at least was able to share it with his family.

His two sons, ages 5 and 3, ran out to the 18th green when he finished, and his wife was off to the side. Audrey Leishman nearly died two years ago when she suffered from toxic shock syndrome, causing Leishman to hastily leave the Masters.

Now he's going back.

Nordqvist claims Founders Cup

PHOENIX (AP) — Anna Nordqvist caught up with some college friends — and left everyone else behind on another hot afternoon at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

The 29-year-old former Arizona State player shot a 4-under 68 on Sunday to hold off fellow major champions Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis and In Gee Chun by two strokes in record 35.5C heat at Desert Ridge.

Nordqvist finished at 25-under 263, two strokes off the LPGA Tour record that Kim Sei Young matched last year at Desert Ridge. The tall Swede had a tournament-record 61 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round.

Jutanugarn and Lewis also shot 68, and Chun had a 66.

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