Australia’s Marc Leishman produced a brilliant finish to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational as Rory McIlroy’s bid for a remarkable victory faltered at the final hurdle.
Leishman carded a closing 69 at Bay Hill to claim his second PGA Tour title by a single shot from Americans Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman, with McIlroy a shot further back alongside England’s Tyrrell Hatton.
An eagle from 50 feet on the 16th gave Leishman the lead for the first time and the 33-year-old, who lost a play-off for the Open Championship in 2015, scrambled pars on the last two holes to set the clubhouse target on 11 under par.
Kisner was unable to find the birdie he needed to force a play-off in the closing stretch, while Hoffman bogeyed the 17th but birdied the last to secure a share of second.
McIlroy had been four over par after two holes of his second round and despite a flawless 65 on Saturday, started the final day five shots off the lead shared by Kisner and Hoffman.
But by the time he had recorded his seventh birdie of the day on the 16th, the four-time major winner had moved into a share of the lead with the American pair.
However, McIlroy then heard the roar as Leishman made his unlikely eagle on 16 and, knowing he needed to make a birdie, charged his first putt four feet past the hole and missed the return.
Rory said: “I saw Leishman eagle 16 so I thought I really needed to try and hole it and I was overly aggressive with it and missed the one coming back, but it’s been a good week and if anything, to be one over after two rounds and come up like this, it’s a great weekend.
“I can’t complain too much.
“It would have been nice to give it a bit of a better go, I had two chances on 17 and 18 there, but hopefully I can get back up on the horse next week and try and get a win at the (WGC-Dell Technologies) Match Play.”
Tournament host, Graeme McDowell closed with a final round 73 to finish in a share of 28th place.