Kurt Kitayama survives a scare to win his first-ever PGA Tour title at Arnold Palmer Invitational…as American Rory McIlroy fends off the massive $3.6 MILLION prize
Kurt Kitayama endured an eventful final round as he defeated Rory McIlroy to claim his first PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The 30-year-old American carded a triple-bogey seven on ninth at Bay Hill, Orlando as he attempted to defend an overnight single lead, but rallied to come home in 35 for a second straight 72 , who got him over the line with nine under par.
When asked how he felt after winning the $3.6 million prize, Kitayama told Sky Sports, “Ecstatic. I’ve been dreaming about this for a while now. I’ve been close and it feels great to finally get it done.”
Asked about his emotions during the day, he added: “I didn’t feel too bad. For the most part, I felt in control. A loose swing there and maybe a bad kick to the left, it just happened.
“My heart was racing, but being in those situations in the past definitely helped. I found myself running super fast and then I thought, ‘Take it easy, take your time,’ and that really helped.”
Kurt Kitayama beat the stiff competition to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday
The 30-year-old American triple-bogeyed the ninth, but regained his composure to win
McIlroy was tied four-way for the lead at eight under when Kitayama was on the 17th tee, but the American’s birdie two saw him clear a shot with only the last hole to play.
He dragged his tee shot into the rough on 18, but managed to find the green with his second and left a monster first putt on the lip to clinch the win.
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy started the day three shots behind the leader and came into contention with a round of 70, including seven birdies alongside five lost shots, but eventually had to settle for a share of second with American Harris English , with the pair both taking home $1.78 million.
Kitayama lifts trophy in Orlando after sealing victory – and huge $3.6 million prize
McIlroy was on the verge of capturing the American on the scoreboard, but fell just short of victory
When asked what his primary emotion was, McIlroy said, “Disappointment. I feel like I have a great chance after the birdie on 13, and then playing the last five holes in one over par, with this crowded field, it’s not really going to work.
“It was a battle all day long. I felt like I hung in there really well, I just came up short in the end. But Kurt played well and did really well to hold on in that back nine.”
Patrick Cantlay shot a 68 to share fourth with compatriot Jordan Spieth, defending champion Scottie Scheffler and England’s Tyrrell Hatton. All those players take home $800,000 each.