ORLANDO, Fla. — Tyrrell Hatton felt the Arnold Palmer Invitational slipping away Sunday, perhaps unaware that everyone else trying to survive another brutal test at Bay Hill was feeling the same way.
He gave the wrong kind of salute to the 11th hole when he walked off the green after a double bogey cut his lead to one shot. It looked as though he was about to lose his mind.
Instead, the 28-year-old Englishman won the tournament with clutch play amid high stress, closing with seven straight pars for a 2-over-par 74 and a one-shot victory over Australia's Marc Leishman.
"The hardest thing for me today was trying to keep myself level-headed," Hatton said. "Obviously, there was a few times where I did boil over a little bit, but nothing compared to what I've been like in the past. I feel like with how tough it was — for me — I did a good job."
He was even better with the clubs in his hands.
An 8-iron shot out of ankle-deep rough over the water to a front pin on No. 13. Par saves from off the back of the green on the 14th and 15th holes because the greens were so brittle they wouldn't hold anything. The best of all was his 5-iron shot to 25 feet from the cup on the par-3 17th for another par, a satisfying score on this day.
Bay Hill Club served up the most demanding test this side of a major, and Hatton kept it together down the stretch for his first PGA Tour victory, adding to a collection that includes four European Tour wins.
The only time he choked was when he took a gulp of Ketel One vodka — Palmer's favorite drink — during a toast to the King. Palmer would have loved to see this struggle, and Hatton's performance over the final hour was regal.
Leishman (73) stayed on his heels and said to caddie Matt Kelly walking up the par-5 16th, "Of all the courses on the PGA Tour, this is the last one you'd pick if you had a two-shot lead with three to go." He then made a birdie on the 16th to get within one. He closed with two pars. It still wasn't enough.
"Tyrrell never gave up," Leishman said. "He did what he needed to on a really, really tough course."
Hatton finished at 4-under 284, one of only four players who beat par for the week, the fewest at Bay Hill since 1980. So severe was the course that Matt Fitzpatrick closed with a 69 and was the only player to break 70 on the weekend.
South Korea's Sungjae Im (73), coming off a Honda Classic victory to start the Florida swing, was third at 2 under, a shot ahead of Bryson Dechambeau (71). Tied for fifth at par were Joel Dahmen (71), Australia's Danny Lee (75), top-ranked Rory McIlroy (76) of Northern Ireland and Chattanooga native Keith Mitchell (71), who joined Dahmen and Lee in earning exemptions in this summer's British Open.
Harris English — like Mitchell, a former Baylor School and University of Georgia golfer — tied for ninth at 1 over after closing with a 76.
McIroy, one shot behind going into the final round, had his highest closing round since a 76 in the 2013 U.S. Open, done in this time by double bogeys on the sixth and ninth holes. He still posted his eighth consecutive top-five finish worldwide dating to late September.
The scoring average Sunday was 75.06, the toughest final round at Bay Hill since 1983. Hatton's 284 was the highest score to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational since it began in 1979.
But he was a winner. And that made him very happy.
"I was getting frustrated at times, but nowhere near the blowups that I am capable of," Hatton said with a smile. "And it's just one of those days where you just got to stick in there, and patience is one of the hardest things with me."
Ernie Els a senior winner
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Ernie Els won the Hoag Classic for his first PGA Tour Champions title, sinking birdies on the par-5 15th and 18th holes for a two-stroke victory at Newport Beach Country Club.
Making his third start on the senior circuit, the 50-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer from South Africa closed with a 4-under 67 to finish at 16-under 197 in the 54-hole event.
"It was pretty tight," Els said. "I felt a little uncomfortable on the greens. I didn't have that free-flowing feeling — I had to work hard for it, and that's a good thing to do, to work hard for something. You don't want something falling in your lap. I'm glad the first one's over with and we can move on now and it gets more comfortable after this."
Els lost a playoff to Miguel Angel Jimenez in his debut in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii, then tied for 34th last weekend at the Cologuard Classic in Arizona.
Fellow Hall of Famer Fred Couples, a 60-year-old trying to win the event for the third time, finished with a 66 to tie for second with fellow American Glen Day (64) and Sweden's Robert Karlsson (66).
Hard-fought win on European Tour
DOHA, Qatar — Jorge Campillo lost a two-shot lead with three holes to play, stayed alive with two long birdie putts in a playoff and proved clutch on the fifth extra hole to beat David Drysdale in the Qatar Masters.
On his sixth time playing the 18th hole for the day, Campillo rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt and raised his arm. Victory was not assured until Drysdale's 18-foot putt to extend the playoff missed to the left.
It looked like a certain second European Tour win for the 33-year-old Spaniard when he stepped to the 16th hole, two shots clear of Denmark's Jeff Winther and three ahead of Drysdale, the 44-year-old Scot who is still looking for his first. But Campillo made a bogey and then a double bogey, closing with a 1-over 72 to win up in a playoff with Drysdale (71) after they finished regulation at 13-under 271.
Campillo made a 30-foot birdie and a 25-foot birdie in the first two playoff holes with Drysdale in tight. After they exchanged pars on the 18th twice, Campillo won it with his 20-footer.