Matt Every picked a phenomenal time to win his first career PGA tournament.
The former Big Break contestant caught fire on the back nine of Sunday's final round at the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational, finishing with a final score of 13 under par. He stole the victory with a final-round score of 70, winning by one stroke over Keegan Bradley, with Adam Scott finishing in third place, two shots back.
Here's a look at the final leaderboard.
|Position||Player||Final Round||To Par|
Note: To see the entire leaderboard, please visit PGATour.com.
With the victory, Every became just the second Big Break alumnus to win a PGA Tour event (Tommy Gainey being the first, back in 2012), as the Golf Channel pointed out during his final round after he had tied Scott at 13 under par:
As the PGA of Australia noted, Every's confidence was sky high, and the results spoke for themselves:
Matt Every is playing with the confidence that Adam Scott possessed in R1&2. The American is 4-under today compared to Adam's 2-over.— PGA of Australia (@PGAofAustralia) March 23, 2014
The first-time winner didn't need many putts on Sunday, prompting Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports to offer this one-liner:
It's almost like Matt is making Every putt today. #seeyalltomorrow— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) March 23, 2014
It was a stellar performance that surprised many, but Every went into the final round with high expectations and a new approach to playing on Sundays.
“I think I’ve been too aggressive on Sundays. You can hit good shots out here on Sundays, and it might not turn out great,” he said after Saturday's round, via Will Gray of GolfChannel.com. “It’s not nerves … it’s really not. It just, you know, it just hasn’t happened. But eventually, I’m pretty sure it will.”
Eventually turned out to come one day later, thanks to a number of spectacular shots like this clutch birdie putt on No. 13.
Every's final round wasn't without its nerve-racking moments, however. He shanked his drive off the tee on No. 16 into the woods, setting up a bogey to make things really interesting heading into the final two holes of the tournament.
In the end, his nerves held on the final two holes, and he nearly holed out his shot from the bunker on No. 17, as shown by the PGA Tour on Twitter:
But it wasn't an easy win by any means—especially after Every made bogey at No. 18 to give Bradley a shot to tie him with a birdie on the final hole.
The victory automatically qualifies Every for the 2014 Masters.
Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel had an interesting take on this dynamic, noting he earned the trip to Augusta by beating last year's Masters champ:
Matt Every, solo leader. Beating the Masters champ would be a hell of a way to get into the Masters.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) March 23, 2014
Bradley took an interesting path to second place.
He labored badly through his first three holes, going three over par before saving his round with birdies on No. 4 and No. 6. He opened up his back nine with two more bogeys but followed those up with three birdies in the next six holes, including this one on No. 17.
Behind the eventual winner by one shot heading into his approach shot at No. 18, Bradley hit a solid shot into the final hole to set up a 30-foot putt for birdie, which would have tied him with Every, forcing a playoff.
Unfortunately, his birdie putt slid past the cup on the left side, making Every the champion.
Scott struggled to keep his hot streak from the first two rounds going into the weekend. After scraping together a 71 on Saturday, he shot his only over-par round of the tournament on Sunday, opening up the door for Every to steal the win with his stellar play.
He made bogey on No. 1 and No. 3 and never recovered, finishing with a final-round score of 76.
The key moment of the tournament came after Every's bogey at No. 16.
Scott, playing directly behind him, shot a gorgeous second shot into the par five, setting up a 20-foot eagle opportunity. Rather than capitalize, however, Scott three-putted for a par.
Once again, Bacon was quick to offer this amusing take:
At this point Adam Scott might have a better chance of making a putt if he used an actual broom.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) March 23, 2014
How will Scott fare in his Masters defense?
With the Masters fast approaching in mid April, this isn't the way Scott wanted to prepare for his title defense. After his blazing-hot scores on Thursday and Friday, it appeared he would head into Augusta with tremendous momentum, but after his final-round collapse, it's clear he has some work to do to get back into the groove.
Conversely, Every now has plenty of momentum heading into the first major of the 2014 season.
As it always is with golf, though, momentum is often fickle. Players can get hot and cold faster than the blink of an eye, which is why the most consistent performers tend to have the best chance of succeeding long term.
It will be fascinating to see if Every can continue to build off his success this past weekend, and it will be intriguing to see how Scott responds to his final-round hiccup at Bay Hill.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78