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Kitayama Wins Arnold Palmer Invitational, Takes First PGA Tour Title

Kitayama Wins Arnold Palmer Invitational: Kurt Kitayama held off the charge of Rory McIlroy to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday in Orlando, Florida. The 30-year-old journeyman carded an even-par 72 for a 72-hole total of 9-under 279 to take home his first US Professional Golfers Association Tour victory and the winner’s check of USD3.6 million. His win stunned everyone in the golf betting scene that were expecting someone like Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and McIlroy to win the event that offer 550 FedEx Cup points for the winner.

Kitayama Wins Arnold Palmer Invitational: Kitayama Survives McIlroy, English, Scheffler

He survived a disastrous triple-bogey seven in the ninth hole to beat McIlroy and Harris English by a stroke. Kitayama went 1-under in the back nine, which included a birdie in the 17th that put him back in the driver’s seat. And on the 18th, he struck an 8-iron onto the green. His first putt stopped an inch from the cup to end with a tap-in par that sealed him the victory. Kitayama moved to 19th in the world with the win. McIlroy, who shot a 70 for an 8-under 280, buried four birdies in a five-hole stretch. However, his lack of awareness that he was tied for the lead on the 14th cost him a shot. He paid the price on the 18th when he missed a 10-footer for birdie. 

English, who went bogey free for the entire weekend, settled for a 70 in the final round for a 280. He missed a birdie attempt in the final hole that could have forced a playoff. Scheffler was also close from forcing a playoff in the 18th hole. However, his second shot spun back into the rough and his chip for the third shot was weak. He eventually settled for a bogey and end up in 281 along with Tyrrell Hatton (72), Jordan Spieth (70) and Patrick Cantlay (68).

Up Next: Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach

The US PGA contingent will head to Ponte Vedra Beach as they will play in the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course for The Players Championship from March 9-12. The field will be star-studded with World No1 Jon Rahm leading the charge. Second-ranked McIlroy and third seed Scheffler are also in the mix. Previous winners Justin Thomas, Kim Si-Woo and Jason Day are also taking part in the tournament. Also competing in the event are Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau and Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Kitayama. This year’s purse will be the largest ever at USD25 million with the winner taking home USD4.5 million. The 72-hole event will feature a challenging 7,189-yard course that has 88 bunkers and 17 water hazards. US PGA picks and parlays are looking forward for a star-studded shootout for the title with a staggering prize purse for the top finishers.