Friday, June 22, 2018

Jason Day goes wire-to-wire to win at Bay Hill

ORLANDO — Arnold Palmer was watching him. Tiger Woods was texting him.

Jason Day, his ball in a bunker on the 18th hole, was only thinking about how to navigate nearly 100 feet in two shots to get the par he needed to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday.

Out of sorts with his swing all afternoon, Day delivered his best at the end.

The bunker shot came out just as he pictured, and Day made the 4-foot par to close with 2-under 70, outlasting Kevin Chappell for his first win of the year.

"I was able to walk up there and have a special moment with the King," Day said of Palmer. "That's something I always wanted to do."

He never imagined having to work this hard. Day lost a two-shot lead on the front nine, recovered with a 9-iron out of the rough and over a bunker to a foot on the ninth hole for birdie.

Day was one shot behind Chappell, who was in trouble on No. 18, when he hit 5-iron to 12 feet on the par-3 17th and made birdie. Chappell made his lone bogey of the back nine on the final hole and shot 69, then could only wait to see if Day could beat his total of 16-under 272.

"I had a chance to win, and that's all I can ask for," Chappell said after his fourth runnerup finish on the PGA Tour, second this season.

Day, at 17-under 271, is the first wire-to-wire winner (no ties) at Bay Hill since Fred Couples in 1992. His eighth PGA Tour win moved him to No. 2 in the world.

Woods, an eight-time winner at Bay Hill and now somewhat of a mentor to Day, sent Day a text in the morning: "Just be yourself and stay in your world."

Troy Merritt, in the final group with Day, started the back nine with five straight birdies, then chipped in for par behind the 17th green. But on No. 18 his approach found water, leading to double bogey for 71—274, tied for third with Henrik Stenson (71).

Valspar Championship: The Valspar paint company, which sponsors the PGA Tour event at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, has reached an agreement to be acquired by Sherwin-Williams. This won't affect the event's sponsorship, the Valspar Championship Twitter account said. "The combined company will have over $15 billion in sales. That is even more resources to support PGA TOUR in Tampa Bay," it said. "We look forward to our continued partnership through at least 2020."

LPGA: Sei Young Kim tied Annika Sorenstam's tour scoring record of 27 under, closing with 10-under 62 in Phoenix for a five-stroke win over Lydia Ko (65) in the JTBC Founders Cup. Sorenstam set the mark in 2001 at nearby Moon Valley, shooting a record 59 in the second round. Kim also matched the tournament mark of 62 set Thursday by Mi Hyang Lee.

Champions: Tampa native Woody Austin holed out for eagle from a greenside bunker on the par-5 15th and held on at the Tucson (Ariz.) Conquistadores Classic for his first title on the 50-and-over tour. Austin, 52, shot 7-under 65 for 200 total to top Jim Carter (68) by a stroke and Bernhard Langer (67) by two.

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