Bryson DeChambeau holds off Lee Westwood to win Arnold Palmer Invitational
Lee Westwood jumped into contention with a Saturday 65 at Bay Hill, which meant that Westwood, at 47, was the oldest player to hold a 54-hole lead since Phil Mickelson at The American Express two years ago. Mickelson didn’t win, and Westwood’s path wouldn’t be easy, either. He’d won 25 times on the European Tour but just twice on the PGA Tour. He entered Sunday with a one-stroke lead over Bryson DeChambeau and led Jordan Spieth by two. Here’s how it all went down on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Who won: Bryson DeChambeau (one-under 71, 11 under overall)
How it happened: There was at one point a four-way tie for the lead after Spieth, still looking for his first win since the 2017 Open Championship, made birdie on 6. But it was DeChambeau, playing in the final pairing with Westwood, who led Westwood by one and Spieth by two at the turn. DeChambeau shot a one-under 35 on the front and then kept his lead with a nifty par save on 11 — he hit an iron fat off the tee and it stopped just feet in front of a hazard, hit into a green-side bunker, blasted out and made a 50-footer.
Westwood grabbed the co-lead with a birdie on 12, but he gave it right back when he three-putted for bogey on 13. Westwood had another chance to tie DeChambeau on the par-5 16th — the easiest hole on the course — but missed from six feet and settled for par. DeChambeau also only made par, so his lead remained one with two to play. After pars on the 17th, both players headed to the par-4 18th — the most difficult hole on the course. They found the fairway — although Westwood’s ball came to rest in a divot — and Westwood two-putted from 65 1/2 feet for par. DeChambeau, after missing his birdie try from 44 feet, rolled in his six-footer for the win. Westwood (73) finished alone in second, with Conners (74) in solo third.
Why it matters: It’s DeChambeau’s eighth career PGA Tour victory and the first since he won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September. He’s now the first player to win multiple times this season and, according to the PGA Tour, the first to do it through only 20 weeks. (Nick Price won his second event of 1994 in the 21st week of the season.)
Must-see moment: The will he/won’t he chatter surrounded DeChambeau since he suggested he might try to take a heroic line over the lake and drive the green on the 555-yard par-5 6th. The carry over the lake to the green is about 350, and DeChambeau said he needed the wind to be in his favor to accomplish it. He hit two into the lake during less-than-ideal wind conditions in his Wednesday practice round, hit more conservative shots on Thursday and Friday but successfully cut it on Saturday, ending up 70 yards from the hole. He took the aggressive line again on Sunday, pounding it 377 yards into a fairway bunker and leaving 88 yards to the green. He made birdie and played the hole in three under for the week.
Surging: Spieth. Yes, everyone knows he hasn’t won since that memorable victory over Matt Kuchar at Royal Birkdale in July 2017, but he’s now racked up four straight top-15 finishes. He was T4 in Phoenix, T3 at Pebble, T15 at the Genesis and was T4 on Sunday, which was his first-ever start at Bay Hill.
I want a mulligan: Tyrrell Hatton won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year. This year he was T21 and also had a shot to forget on Sunday.
Up next: The Tour heads 150 miles north to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. The Players was canceled after one round last year due to Covid-19. Forty-eight of the top 50 players in the world are in the field, and Rory McIlroy returns to defend his title from 2019.