Laird wins at Bay HillORLANDO, Fla. – On a day when the Bay Hill Club & Lodge golf course played incredibly difficult and offered a challenge at every turn, Scotland’s Martin Laird emerged with the win by parring the last with a two-putt from just inside of 90 feet. Laird finished at 8-under 280 after a final round 75 and earned a one-stroke win over Steve Marino. Earned is not an exaggerated term.
Laird had started the day with a two-shot lead over Spencer Levin (76-T6) and saw the lead grow to three before actually falling behind by three after 14 holes. The last four made all the difference.
“I knew it was going to be this tough to win,” Laird said after earning the second win of his tour career. “I didn't know I would win it in this fashion being this tough. I knew there was going to be someone playing well and Steve Marino obviously played great today, birdieing the last, put the extra pressure on me coming up 18. It was a battle out there, but you know, it makes it even sweeter at the end when I got this trophy.”
Marino played near flawless golf and had built a three-shot lead early on his back-nine, but two plugged balls in bunkers – at 15 and 17 – sealed his fate. The biggest culprit was at 17 as he walked away with a double-bogey five.
“Yeah, I mean, if I had to do it all over again, I would love to have played that 17th hole” Marino said after his second runner-up finish of the year. “I thought I hit a really good shot in there. We hit a 6-iron. Yesterday we hit a 5-iron that went over the green. I hit it really good. I thought it was going to be good, and came up short in the bunker and then plugged.
“Really, it was probably about as good as I could do was hit it to where I did and I just got a little aggressive with the par putt. Just hit a terrible next putt. But I was able to come back and birdie 18 to give myself a chance. But I mean, that's pretty disappointing. I played so well all day, and just, you know, one hiccup on 17 cost me the tournament.”
With the greens running firm and fast, and the wind causing its own set of problems to make those greens a bit crispy, putting became extremely difficult. Added to really tough pin placements on the back nine the combination was lethal.
That, however, did not make the hurt any easier to deal with for Marino. In seven starts this season, he has tied for second in Honolulu, tied for fourth at Pebble Beach and added a sole-second with an improbable birdie at the last in Arnie’s tournament.
“I'm pretty disappointed right now,” Marino said. “I felt like I just played so well all day, and just a couple bad breaks, and one bad putt was all it took to kind of take me out of it.
“But I was real proud of the way I hung in there and hit two great shots into 18 and was able to make that putt to even have a chance. That was -- I mean, you know, if there's any positive to draw on this, that definitely is a positive for sure.”
One would have to wonder about the positives Tiger Woods took out of the week. Woods tied for 24th, after getting to three-under for the day before giving it all back with a bogey, double-bogey finish. He did find it easy to explain his week, though.
“Very simple,” he said. “I hit three water balls this week and a few missed putts here and there, and I'm not that far behind. Add all that together, you can't afford to make those mistakes.”
Justin Rose put on a charge, which included a back-nine 5-under 31. He ended with a final round score of 68 and tied for third with Mark Leishman (71) and David Toms (72).
“Yeah, nice way to sign off,” Rose said of his inward nine. “A little bit of redemption from last week. I had a bit of a poor Sunday and that bothered me, annoyed me because I feel like I have a lot of good things going right now and I fought really well today. Coming down the stretch I knew there were important clubs and shots to be hit and I stayed in my process well and committed to them. It was a nice sort of reward after last Sunday.”
Rose had started the final round in Tampa with the lead, but a 74 on Sunday dropped him back into a tie for fifth.
Laird said he would take a few days off to enjoy his latest win and then turn his focus to Augusta, Georgia and the Masters.
And his game seems perfectly suited for that venue.
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