Kurt Kitayama Wins the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational

On Sunday, 30-year-old Kurt Kitayama pulled off a remarkable victory at the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational. After battling through a dramatic final round, Kitayama emerged as the outright winner with a score of 9-under 279. He beat Rory McIlroy (70) and Harris English (70) by a shot, while Jordan Spieth (70) finished in a tie for fourth.

The final round was a real rollercoaster ride for Kitayama, with five players sharing the lead at one point. He started the round with a one-shot lead, but a sloppy triple-bogey on the par-4 ninth hole looked to be the end of his tournament hopes.[0] However, Kitayama battled back with seven straight pars to stay in a tie for the lead.[0] On the par-3 17th hole, he hit a majestic iron shot to 13 feet and buried the birdie putt to take the outright lead again.[0] His par on the par-4 18th hole sealed the deal for his first career PGA Tour win.[0]

McIlroy received $1,780,000 for finishing in a tie for second, but he had a chance to reach the eventual winning score of 9 under.[1] His 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole just missed.[2]

Kitayama collected three runner-up finishes in his last 23 starts, but he was finally able to break through and earn his first PGA Tour win. He banked $3.6 million and improved to No. 19 in the Official World Golf Ranking, the highest position of his career.[3]

Spieth also had a chance to be a part of a playoff to feature four or five players, but he was unable to convert four putts, missing them by just barely. He ended up finishing on seven under.

Kitayama is now a champion on the PGA Tour and has earned the nickname ‘Champ.' He has now put himself in position for more success for the remainder of the year. After a long and winding road, Kitayama has finally achieved his goal of winning on the PGA Tour.

0. “Kurt Kitayama Nearly Doubled His Career Earnings With His Life-Changing $3.6 Million Payday at the Arnold Palmer …” msnNOW, 6 Mar. 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/golf/kurt-kitayama-nearly-doubled-his-career-earnings-with-his-life-changing-dollar36-million-payday-at-the-arnold-palmer-invitational/ar-AA18hZxR

1. “Rory McIlroy Questions Whether Fans Want To Watch Top Players Making Bogeys” Balls.ie, 6 Mar. 2023, https://www.balls.ie/golf/rory-mcilroy-questions-whether-fans-want-to-watch-top-players-making-bogeys-545261

2. “Rory McIlroy ‘rues' aggressive tee shot Sunday after realizing he was leading” Yahoo Sports, 5 Mar. 2023, https://sports.yahoo.com/rory-mcilroy-rues-aggressive-tee-183036584.html

3. “A late break: Kurt Kitayama's clutch birdie at No. 17 wins at Bay Hill” The Florida Times-Union, 6 Mar. 2023, https://www.jacksonville.com/story/sports/golf/pga-tour/2023/03/05/a-late-break-kurt-kitayamas-clutch-birdie-at-no-17-wins-at-bay-hill/69973658007