No 1 Scottie Scheffler matches Tiger Woods feat with Bay Hill triumph

Scottie Scheffler poses with the trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational Bay Hill. Picture: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images / AFP

Scottie Scheffler poses with the trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational Bay Hill. Picture: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images / AFP

Published Mar 11, 2024


World number one Scottie Scheffler cruised to a five-stroke victory on Sunday at the PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational to capture his first tour victory in nearly a year.

Scheffler, the 2022 Masters champion, fired a bogey-free six-under par 66 to finish 72 holes on 15-under 273 at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida.

That was enough to defeat reigning US Open champion Wyndham Clark, the runner-up on 278 after a closing 70, with Ireland's Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open champion, third on 279 after a closing 72.

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"I played a good round of golf," Scheffler said. "Got off to a good start and just did my best to keep things rolling.

"As we made the turn on the back nine, I knew I had a few shots lead. I didn't look at many leaderboards. I stayed in my own little space and just tried to keep pushing."

Scheffler matched the low round of the week and the 27-year-old American became the first reigning world number one to win at Bay Hill since Tiger Woods in 2009.

"Hat's off to Scottie," Clark said. "He's the best player in the world right now and that's what the best players in the world do, they shoot 66 in a final round."

It was Scheffler's seventh career PGA Tour triumph and his first since last year's Players Championship - a title he will try to defend next week.

"It would be borderline unfair if he starts putting really good," Clark said. "If he starts putting positive each week he's going to be really hard to beat.

"Scottie should win almost every year here. With his ball striking, this golf course is so demanding tee to green and he's been the best last few years in that category, so I'm not shocked."

Through the past 12 months, Scheffler said he wasn't frustrated by his win drought.

"Just stuck with my process," he said. "Had a good couple off weeks with friends at home to kind of reset. Going into this week I tried to have a good attitude."

Pretty special

Now he has a boost of confidence heading into his bid for a Players repeat after his second Palmer crown in three seasons.

"Any time you can win Arnie's tournament it's pretty special," Scheffler said of the event's legendary namesake. "He meant a lot to the game of golf. It's truly an honor to win here."

Scheffler began the day sharing the lead with Lowry, but the Irishman began with back-to-back bogeys.

Scheffler birdied the first hole on a putt from just outside 12 feet, sank a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-5 sixth and birdied the 10th from just outside eight feet to surge ahead by four over Clark.

When he birdied the 11th from just beyond six feet, Scheffler stretched his lead to five strokes.

Scheffler added a 34-foot birdie putt at the 15th to reach 14-under and lead by six with no rival able to muster any credible charge down the stretch.

Both Clark and Scheffler birdied the par-5 16th and while Clark added a birdie at 18, it only trimmed Scheffler's victory margin.

"I'm super pleased," Clark said. "Obviously coming up short is always a bummer. I have not always loved this golf course and haven't played well here and I said to myself this week a top 5 or top 10 here would just be a huge for me. So I think it's just a testament to where my game is at and how much I've grown."