Laird captures Palmer Invitational

Posted March 27, 2011, at 8:47 p.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Martin Laird went from a shocking collapse to an unlikely winner Sunday at Bay Hill.

In the toughest final round on the PGA Tour this year, Laird rallied from a three-shot deficit with four holes to play with two birdies and two remarkable pars to close with a 3-over 75 and win the Arnold Palmer Invitational by one shot over hard-luck Steve Marino.

The 28-year-old Scot became the first European to win at Bay Hill in its 33-year history.

Laird’s two-shot lead was gone at the turn, and when he pulled a bunker shot into the water on No. 11 to make double bogey, he already was 5-over par for his round and fading quickly.

But a day of survival for everyone else turned into a revival for Laird.

After a bogey on the par-3 14th to fall three shots behind Marino, Laird holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 15th, an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th, saved par from behind the 17th green and two-putted from just inside 90 feet on the final hole. It was the highest score in the final round by a Bay Hill champion.

Laird finished at 8-under 280.

No one in the last three groups broke par, and those six players were a combined 19-over par.

Laird needed some help from Marino, who played beautifully until the last four holes. Marino took bogey from a plugged lie in the bunker short of the 15th green, then made double bogey from a plugged lie in the sand short of the 17th hole. He went from a one-shot lead to a two-shot deficit when Laird birdied the 16th.

Marino at least gave himself a chance on the last hole with a gutsy play over the water to 8 feet for birdie and a 72. It was the third close call this year for Marino, who has yet to win on the PGA Tour.

Justin Rose closed with a 68 to tie for third with David Toms (72) and Marc Leishman (71) at 6 under.

Tiger Woods, a six-time winner at Bay Hill, was poised for a second straight top 10 until he made bogey from the bunker on the 17th and hit his approach into the water on No. 18 for double bogey and a 72. In his final tournament before the Masters, Woods tied for 24th, seven shots behind.

Phil Mickelson dropped three shots on the last five holes for a 73 to also finish in a tie for 24th.

Andalucia Open

MALAGA, Spain — Scotland’s Paul Lawrie won the Andalucia Open on Sunday for his first European Tour victory since 2002 and sixth overall, holding off Sweden’s Johan Edfors by a stroke.

The 42-year-old Lawrie, the 1999 British Open winner, closed with an even-par 70 for a 12-under 268 total.

Edfors finished with a 68. Chile’s Felipe Aguilar (68) was third at 10 under.

Louisiana Open

BROUSSARD, La. — PGA Tour winner Brett Wetterich won the Nationwide Tour’s Louisiana Open for the second time, shooting 2-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over University of Florida senior Andres Echavarria.

The 37-year-old Wetterich, the 2006 Byron Nelson Championship winner, finished at 13-under 271 at Le Triomphe Country Club. Also, the 2003 Louisiana Open, he earned $90,000 for this third Nationwide title.

Echavarria, from Colombia, shot a 67.

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