Sunday, March 20, 2016

With clutch up-and-down, Day secures Arnold Palmer Invitational

Jason Day is on the board in 2016.

With an up-and-down for par on the 72nd hole, Day secured a one-stroke win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando. His 17-under total, including a 2-under 70 final round, was good enough to defeat Kevin Chappell, who was seeking his first PGA Tour win. 

It wasn't easy for the world No. 3 and reigning PGA champion. After an impressive birdie at the par-3 second, Day made three bogeys in four holes, including a dropped shot after finding the water with his 200-yard second shot from the middle of the fairway at the par-5 sixth. However, Day righted the ship and got back to even on the day with a birdie on the ninth after an approach shot to gimme range.

Chappell kept in close touch with Day throughout the afternoon, forcing the Aussie to keep pace and find an extra gear down the stretch. 

Following a disappointing par on the short par-5 16th, Day his a great tee shot to the 225-yard 17th, sinking the 12-foot putt for birdie. Day needed a par at the water-guarded finishing hole to lock up the title. Perhaps trying to play safe, Day pulled his approach shot into the back-left greenside bunker, leaving a ticklish escape of some 30 yards. He played it perfectly, leaving a 4-footer for par that won the tournament.

Henrik Stenson and Troy Merritt finished tied for third at 14 under par. Zach Johnson was fifth at 12 under.

For Day, this is the culmination of work to get back into last year's form after taking an extended break in the fall and early winter so he could recharge the batteries and spend time with his family, including his second child born in November. He's found his way to a PGA Tour victory at just the right time, with Masters Sunday only three weeks away. 

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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