Sunday 25 March 2018

Scott blows up again as Every takes maiden title

Arnold Palmer congratulates Matt Every of the United States as he celebrates with the trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Arnold Palmer congratulates Matt Every of the United States as he celebrates with the trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational

William S Callahan

ADAM SCOTT was Tigeresque for the first three rounds at the Arnold Palmer Invitational then imploded spectacularly in the final round as Matt Every (30) chiselled out his first victory on the PGA Tour with a closing 70.

Masters champion Scott had looked invincible as he romped into the weekend at Bay Hill seven shots clear of the pack after following up Thursday's record-equalling 62 with a 66 on Friday – gallingly, his 14-under total that evening would have won the tournament by one.

Despite a shaky 71 on Saturday, Scott still appeared to be in command as he took a three-stroke lead into the final round. However, a ham-fisted four-over 76, in which he pulled a couple of key putts down the stretch, let an understandably nervous Every off the hook.

It's the second time in four months Scott has coughed up a lead on Sunday, not forgetting his spectacular collapse down the stretch at the 2012 Open Championship at Lytham.

The Australian had led Rory McIlroy by four going into the final round of his own national Open in Sydney last December but was beaten on the last by a brilliant birdie from the Ulsterman.

Every turned the screw yesterday with a spectacular sequence of four birdies in five holes through 13 to catch and then ease past the faltering Scott.

The Daytona Beach native appeared to leave the door open when he made bogey six out of the trees at 16, but Scott squandered the chance of an eagle when he three-putted from inside 10 feet for par there and then missed another short putt for par at 17.

Every could even afford to bogey the last out of the back rough and finish one clear of Keegan Bradley, 72, with Scott one further back in third.

Graeme McDowell's hopes of a grandstand finish at Arnie's place were doused in the water fronting the green at the par-three 17th. Still, the Portrush stalwart was unlikely to let this one loose tee-shot dampen his ardour after a final-round 70 and an accomplished weekend's work on his new 'home town' PGA Tour stop in Orlando yielded a share of 10th place on six-under.

A sixth top-10 finish in eight US outings this 'wraparound' season certainly gave McDowell a lot more reason to be cheerful than Padraig Harrington, who slumped into a share of 67th on five-over after an awful 80 in the final round.


It's only the 10th round in the 80s posted by Harrington since his rookie season in Europe in 1996 and his first since the final round of last June's Travelers Championship. Though McDowell's final-day charge was halted by that ugly double-bogey five at the penultimate hole, there was much to admire about his seven-under par performance over 36 holes on a tough weekend at Bay Hill.

The 34-year-old Ulsterman once again showed the resilience once expects of a US Open champion by recovering from a wayward and potentially dispiriting 77 on Friday to hit all 14 fairways in a pin-perfect third-round 67.

McDowell now relishes a taste of team action in Kuala Lumpur this week with Miguel Angel Jimenez's European team in the inaugural EurAsia Cup.

Harrington appeared to set himself up for a profitable weekend in Orlando with nice back-to-back 70s on Thursday and Friday, but there would be no Disney finish for him. After stalling with a 73 on Saturday, he had a nightmare on lightning-quick greens yesterday.

Harrington's problems began with his opening shot in the final round when he hooked his ball way left and virtually off the property on the way to a wincing double-bogey six.

He followed-up with bogeys at two and three and four more in succession to the turn, including back-to-back three-putts on eight and nine to complete the outward half in eight-over 44.

Harrington holed his longest putt of the day at 10, a five-footer for a nice birdie which signalled the end of the cataclysm. He played steadily to the finish, hitting seven greens in regulation on the back nine and dropping just one more shot, at the difficult par four 15th.

Still, the handful of relatively short missed putts among the 34 he took yesterday gave him unwelcome food for thought on the flight to San Antonio for this week's Verizon Texas Open.

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