As the old saying goes, getting the first win is the hardest one.
Scottie Scheffler proved that, as it took him 71 PGA Tour starts to get his first win at the WM Phoenix Open last month. Now, he’s a two-time winner after his 73rd start, surviving a tough test at Bay Hill in Orlando to win the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Scheffler shot an even-par 72 on Sunday to win at a 5-under 283, one of just 10 players to finish the tournament under par. His second win of the season ties Hideki Matsuyama for most on the PGA Tour, and Scheffler also takes over the FedEx Cup points lead from Matsuyama with the win, as this event paid out 550 FedEx Cup points to the winner instead of the usual 500.
“It feels great to be able to win here,” said Scheffler, who also earned $2.16 million in the win. “To be completely honest with you, right now I’m exhausted. This course is a total beatdown trying to play. I’m very pleased I didn’t have to play any extra holes today.”
Scheffler parred the final four holes, which was enough to win as the golfers around him faltered.
Scores were low on Thursday, but a stiff breeze on Saturday and Sunday turned the course into a beast.
Viktor Hovland, who has three professional wins since last October (World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, Hero World Challenge, and a DP World Tour event in Dubai), led heading into the final round but shot at 2-over 74 on Sunday to finish one stroke behind Scheffler.
Billy Horschel, who went to school at the University of Florida in nearby Gainesville, came into Sunday tied for the lead with Hovland but also shot over par and ended up at -4, one shot behind Scheffler.
Tyrrell Hatton, the 2020 winner here, seemingly played himself out of contention with a 78 on Saturday, but he was one of just three golfers to shoot in the 60s on Sunday, carding a 3-under 69 to end up tied with Hovland and Horschel for the runner-up spot.
Gary Woodland and Chris Kirk tied for fifth at -3. Lucas Herbert, who shot a 68 (the lowest score of any golfer on Sunday), moved up 24 spots over the final 18 holes to end up tied for seventh with Talor Gooch.
Sam Burns and Matthew Fitzpatrick where the last two golfers under par, finishing at 1-under and tying for ninth place.
After leading through the first 18 holes, Rory McIlroy shot even par on Friday and then back-to-back 76s over the weekend to end up tied for 13th, and world’s No. 1 golfer Jon Rahm wasn’t a factor all weekend, coming in 17th at +2.
The top golfers in the world head northeast for a 2-hour’s drive to Ponte Vedra Beach for The Players Championship, which is known as golf’s unofficial fifth major. The field consists of 48 of the top 50 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings, including defending champion Justin Thomas.
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