(Reuters) - American Matt Every won his second consecutive Arnold Palmer Invitational title when he sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the final hole to beat Henrik Stenson by one stroke in Florida on Sunday.
Every, who had not posted a top-25 finish since last June, had joked pre-tournament with Tiger Woods that he would win again on the Bay Hill course in Orlando where Woods has won eight times.
Every struck form in time to shoot a closing 66 and finish at 19-under-par 269, barely an hour’s drive from his hometown of Daytona Beach.
Stenson (70) rued what might have been after bogeying the 15th hole and failing to birdie the easy par-five 16th.
The Swede missed a 20-foot birdie at the last that would have earned a playoff, but will still go into next month’s Masters as one of the in-form players after posting his third straight top-four finish.
Every, 31, who is coached by Woods’ former instructor Sean Foley, won last year’s event on the back of great putting, but this time his long game paved the way to his second PGA Tour victory.
However, it was a slick downhill putt on the 18th green that finally clinched the $1.134 million first prize, and a ticket to the Masters.
“This guy in the crowd kept coughing ‘straight putt, straight putt’,” Every told reporters. “I looked over it pretty hard and didn’t see anything. It was a great putt to have under pressure too, because I wasn’t going to come up short.
“You’ll take a win however you get it but it was cool to close one out like that.”
Runner-up Stenson is 62-under for his past 21 rounds worldwide, but it was still a stinging loss for the world number three, who led with four holes left.
Australian Matt Jones (68) finished two strokes behind Every in third place, while American Morgan Hoffman (71) was fourth, four strokes back.
Hoffman made a great start to the final round and took the lead with five birdies in the first eight holes before a bogey at the par-four ninth.
A double-bogey at the last, where he yanked his drive out-of-bounds, only compounded his misery.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)