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ORLANDO, Fla. – Marc Leishman has a history of roaring from the back of the pack, but his comeback effort at the Arnold Palmer Invitational came up one shot short.
Leishman won this event from behind three years ago, and earlier this year he snagged the Farmers Insurance Open title thanks to a closing 65. Looking to add to his hardware collection, he began the day in the final pairing at Bay Hill alongside 54-hole leader Tyrrell Hatton.
But Leishman was slow out of the gates, making a double bogey on No. 3, and he was five shots behind Hatton with 10 to go. While the Aussie got back into the mix with three subsequent birdies, his lengthy birdie putt on the 72nd hole came up short and allowed Hatton to two-putt for par and a one-shot victory.
“We were walking down 16, I said (to my caddie), ‘Of all the courses on the PGA Tour, this is the last one you’d pick if you had a two-shot lead with three to go,’” Leishman said. “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.”
Leishman has now rounded out the podium on two different fronts: he’s finished first, second and third in 11 career starts at Bay Hill, and he’s also finished 1-2-3 this season, including a third-place result at the Safeway Open in September.
Leishman nearly drew even with Hatton on the 17th green, but a 35-foot birdie putt from the fringe barely missed. Instead he closed with a 1-over 73 to end the week alone in second place at 3 under, one of only four players under par on the par-72 layout.
Having endured one of the more difficult challenges on Tour in recent memory, Leishman is eager to build on his momentum next week on a course where he has otherwise struggled, having posted just one top-20 finish at TPC Sawgrass in 10 prior attempts.
“I love when you, if you shoot par it’s a good score,” Leishman said. “I enjoy all sorts of golf, but this is a really big mental test. And going into The Players next week in a good place mentally, and with the major season coming up as well. Yeah, so good signs. Going to take some positives out of this.”