American Matt Every put his name on the trophy for the first time in 93 starts on TOUR as he was victorious at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge Sunday evening in Orlando. The native Floridian fired a final round two-under-par 70 to post 12-under 276 that held off countryman Keegan Bradley by one shot. 2013 Masters champion and 54-hole leader Adam Scott finished alone in third one shot further back.
It took 93 events but Matt Every has finally tasted victory on the PGA TOUR and he had to run over two major champions on Sunday to make it happen. Beginning the day four shots behind world No. 2 Adam Scott and one behind Bradley, the Daytona Beach native piled up five birdies against only one bogey in his first 15 holes on Saturday to build a three-shot lead. While Scott and Bradley spun their respective tires, Every, facing the pressure of closing out his first victory, left the door cracked with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18. Scott couldn’t take advantage as his putter checked out but Bradley had 29 feet to force a playoff on the final hole. His putt didn’t find the hole and the handshake from The King, Arnold Palmer, plus the trophy, were all his. So is an invitation to Augusta next month!
Every might have sensed it was his day after his tee shot on No. 9 on Sunday rode the inside of the cart path. The outside of the cart path is OB. #whew. If that didn’t convince him it was his day, maybe the bunker shot on No. 17 off the flag did. Every’s week was nothing short of fantastic and the final margin of victory hardly shows how good he was over the four days. He was T1 in birdies with 21 and only made eight bogeys, including zero during his Saturday 66. He finished T7 in GIR and was third in BOTH strokes gained-putting and putts per GIR. He made five birdies in three rounds and six on Saturday. He didn’t make a double or worse and that always helps, especially when looking for victory No. 1!
He was forced to chase and make birdies on Sunday and he was up to the challenge. Coming into the week, I argued that Every was playing the most consistent golf of his career as he hit the top 25 in all three of his last starts, including two top 10s. Last week’s T8 in Tampa backed up his T24 at Honda and T6 at Riviera so form wasn’t the question at hand. Hunting down, catching AND passing two young, stud, major champions was the question and boy did he answer.
Every was a three-time All-American who walked-on at Florida and capped his college experience by winning four college tournaments along with being named the 2006 Ben Hogan Award winner. He represented the US on winning Walker and Palmer Cup teams so his pedigree has rarely been questioned.
His attitude, though, has been.
We remember the uncomfortable interview at the Sony Open where he was asked about his marijuana arrest and subsequent suspension. We also remember that he earned his card on the Web.com Tour in 2011 to regain his playing privileges. We remember that he remarked at one point that he didn’t really mind if he had to slam the trunk on Friday because he enjoyed his time at home. We remember that he’s been close a few times but has never closed the deal, including Disney World and Valero.
Now, gamers need to remember that he closed the deal in front of the King, by flying past not one, but TWO, major champions in the prime of their careers. Maybe Every is entering the prime of his career as well. I can easily make this argument. Gamers knew going into this season that he was a bargain in year-long salary cap games. The issue was the week-to-week rosters about when he should or shouldn’t be in the lineup. In his last four events he’s finished T6, T24, T8 and WIN so he’s rewarded those who bought in this week. He was in my Yahoo! B group and Group 3 in the golfchannel.com game.
With his victory, Every collects $1,116,000, 500 FedExCup Points and will play in his first Masters next month at Augusta.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 17 of 19 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson, Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley and Matt Every have collected the hardware this year for the stars and stripes. John Senden joined Jason Day last week as only Australia is representing the rest of the world.
Matt Every joins Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler and Chesson Hadley as the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14 nine of 18 leaders have gone on to win on Sunday. For the second week in a row, the 54-hole leader couldn’t do the business. This week was even more surprising as Adam Scott had a seven shot lead after 36 holes and a three shot lead heading into Sunday.
This was the 37th edition of the API. There have now been 32 winners from the U.S.A.
Matt Every joins Paul Goydos (1996) as the only two players to break their maidens on a very difficult Bay Hill course.
Chesson Hadley was in the top five entering Sunday before his final round 79 knocked him out. First-timers, no matter how hot they are, struggle on this track.
Martin Laird remains the only Euro to win this event. Let’s play the Ryder Cup here!
The only player to go wire-to-wire (no ties) here was Fred Couples in 1992. Pretty good year, that, for Freddie!
For the week, 42 players broke par but the scores went the wrong way as the wind picked up and the greens dried out. Bay Hill presented a great test of golf as did all of the stops on the Florida Swing!
Only six players had four rounds of par or better.
Young Guns versus Prime Time versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every turned 30 last December so he has been “bumped” up to the Prime Time crew. They sit just one victory behind the Young Guns for bragging rights.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board. That’s nine wins from 19 events this year from the up-and-comers!
The Old Guys couldn’t fire up after seeing John Senden’s victory last week at Tampa. The man that time forgot, Vijay Singh, 52, found time to rattle off a T20 this week to pace the old folks. #ballstriker