Bryson DeChambeau hung on to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and Steve Rawlings is here to look back an on a highly entertaining event...
"Francesco Molinari is still the only winner (2019) not to be inside the front three places with a round to go since Mickelson won from tied fifth and two off the lead in 1997!"
Pre-tournament 400.0399/1 chance Lee Westwood began the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a one-stroke lead over Canada's Corey Conners and the reigning US Open champ, Bryson DeChambeau.
Westwood's cause was helped when the American dropped a shot at the opening hole. Unfortunately, for the British player, however, that was big-hitting Bryson's only dropped shot of the day. After a lengthy birdie putt at four, one more at six and another corner-cutting monster drive, DeChambeau seized control of the event and never really looked like relinquishing his grip.
To his utmost credit 47-year-old Westwood was never more than a stroke behind DeChambeau. When Westwood holed for birdie at the par five 12th, the pair were back tied for the lead, but it didn't last long.
A scruffy bogey four followed at the par three 14th for Westwood. He bravely from 19 feet for par at 15 but he'll be kicking himself that he didn't make the most of a great drive at the easy par five 16th, where he missed from inside six feet for birdie as Bryson bungled a par five following a poor drive.
Conners, who appeared to have thrown his hat back into the ring with an eagle at 16, was matched at a low of 4.03/1 but he bogeyed the last two holes and Westwood and DeChambeau were left to scrap it out.
Both made regulation pars and the pre-event 15.014/1 chance, Bryson, eventually won by a stroke but both deserve plenty of praise given how tough the two holes were playing.
Field score to par on back nine today at Bay Hill? Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) March 7, 2021
Holes 10-16 - 2 over
Holes 17-18 - 102 over
What I expected to be quiet a busy trading event was anything but in the end.
As highlighted in the initial update in the In-Play Blog on Friday morning, I traded my Rory McIlroy bet back during round one and he was a free bet after that. I didn't get anything out of my pre-event position on Tommy Fleetwood, although I perhaps should have done.
Tommy, who I backed at 65.064/1, was matched at a low of 7.06/1 yesterday before he three-putted the sixth from 13 feet to kick off a run of three straight bogeys that put him out of the reckoning. But I was greedily hoping for a bit shorter and my only trade in round four was a small lay back on DeChambeau, who I backed after round three.
As it transpired, I needn't have bothered but I'm all for making life as stress free as possible and I thought he was too short at 1.182/11 with the two tough holes to play given he only led by a stroke.
Is it time to ditch the divot rule?
Although shouting on a Bryson win, I couldn't help but feel for Westwood after his drive on the 18th probably prevented him from aggressively going for the pin and the birdie three required. As you'll see below, his ball gently rolled agonisingly into a divot.
It was indeed, a terrible break and Twitter was immediately awash with calls for a rule change but is that even possible?
How do you determine what is and what isn't a divot? How old does a divot have to be before it's no longer a divot? And how long before someone's accused of cheating when they take relief from a 'divot'?
There's no doubt at all that it's unfair but was sport ever meant to be fair?
Bay Hill a brute again
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is always a great tournament and it didn't disappoint this time around either with a fresh breeze on Sunday making for a really stern test.
Field scoring average Sunday ends up at 75.5, the highest final round at Bay Hill since 1980 (79.1).? Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) March 7, 2021
Windy conditions tend to create a volatile leaderboard on a Sunday but Bay Hill is just so tough that making up ground is damn near impossible.
The first three home were inside the front three places with a round to go and only three players managed to break par in round four - the winner, Andrew Putnam and Matt Wallace. All three shot one-under-par 71s and Francesco Molinari is still the only winner (2019) not to be inside the front three places with a round to go since Mickelson won from tied fifth and two off the lead in 1997!
Rory still well-fancied at Augusta
After needing three attempts to clear the water off the tee on the par five sixth, McIlroy was soon out of the race yesterday and he sounded incredibly downbeat after the round. But his poor finish to the week made little difference to his odds for the US Masters where he's still the second favourite behind Dustin Johnson, despite dropping out of the world's top 10.
DeChambeau, who went off favourite for the event in November, is now third best at around 15.014/1, having been trading at around 20.019/1 before last week's win. Westwood, who's twice finished second at Augusta (2010 and 2016) has seen his price more than halved on the Exchange. He's now a 90.089/1 chance having been matched at 100 points bigger a week ago.
The European Tour makes a welcome return this week with the Qatar Masters and we're off to Sawgrass on Thursday for one of the game's biggest events in the calendar - The Players Championship. I'll be back tomorrow with my previews.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter