Not only did he capture one of the most prestigious events on the PGA TOUR, but he also earned his first trip to the Masters Tournament. And he had to beat the reigning Masters champion, Scott, to do it.
"It's really cool," said Every, who first attended a PGA TOUR event as a kid when he accompanied his father to Bay Hill. "I've been close. And I kept telling myself maybe it's going to be somewhere special. I still can't believe it."
Palmer history with the new API Champion also stemmed back to his days as a Palmer Cup alumni. Every played for Team USA in the 2004 Ballybunion and 2005 Whistling Straights editions of the Palmer Cup. Previous Palmer Cup players had a strong showing this year as well with 29 former players (from both sides) starting on Thursday, 19 made the cut and 6 finished top-10.
Every's 275 was the winning score for the fourth time in six years at Bay Hill Club and the eighth time overall as he finished one stroke ahead of former PGA champion Keegan Bradley.
The No. 2 player in the world, Scott was the odds-on favorite to win his 11th TOUR title after leading after each of the first three rounds. But the Australian native struggled with his putting throughout the final day and ended up with a 76 and 11-under 277. After making 13 birdies and two eagles the first two days, Scott managed just six the rest of the way â€“ and only one birdie on Sunday.
"I take a lot of positive stuff out of it," said Scott, who finished alone in third place. "I didn't putt at all well today. It was just a little out of sorts for whatever reason. But I somewhat achieved what I wanted out of coming here. Playing in contention over the weekend was fun. Definitely identified a few areas that I'll be working on in the next couple of weeks."
Bradley also struggled Sunday, but he birdied the 16th and 17th holes to preserve a glimmer of hope. When Every bogeyed the difficult 18th after hitting his approach into the long rough behind the green, Bradley had a chance to force a playoff. He gave it a run from 29 feet, but the birdie try slid by on the left.
"I didn't play my best today, but I hung in there. I hit some really good shots coming down the stretch. I thought I made that putt on the last hole, I really did," said Bradley, who closed with a 72 and 276 total. "I just loved that moment. I'm really proud of the way that I played. But Matt played a really, really good round of golf today."
Scott, playing at Bay Hill for the first time since 2009, had opened the tournament with a 10-under-par 62 that tied Bay Hill's Championship Course record. After a second-round 68, he set a tournament record with a seven-stroke lead after 36 holes at 14 under 130.
But his weekend was a case of stalled scoring.
Had he just shot par the final two days Scott would have won by a stroke. But the Championship Course grew exceedingly more difficult as the weekend progressed with the firm, fast greens proving to be a supreme challenge, though Every figured it out, shooting a Saturday 66 before his final-round push.
On Sunday, Scott started with a weak bogey at the opening hole and never got untracked. Epitomizing his day was a three-putt par at the par-5 16th. Leading by three, Every drove into trouble and ended up making bogey there. Scott, playing in the group behind, reached the green in two and had a 19-foot eagle putt that would have given him a share of the lead he had held after each of the first three rounds. But he not only missed the first putt, but also the comeback try for birdie from four feet, and his bid was gone.
"I'm annoyed that I didn't do better today," Scott admitted. "Sometimes you've got to be hard on yourself. Sometimes you don't. And I think I was getting into a really good spot and had an opportunity here to run away with an event and really take a lot of confidence. I'm taking confidence, anyway, from just some good play. But some opportunities you've got to take."
Every's run to victory started when he sank a 15-foot birdie on the ninth after he hit his approach from a bare lie under a tree left of the fairway. That was an especially big result after he thought he might have pulled his tee shot out of bounds.
"When I hit it I was about 80 percent sure it was going to go out of bounds, just rolling out, and nobody stopping it," Every said. "It was a huge break. Then I had a clean lie at like 130 [yards] and ended up making birdie. That was a big, big shift there."
He followed with a 20-footer at the 10th, and eight-foot birdie at No. 12 and then capped his run with a 13-foot birdie at 13 that allowed him to weather his bogeys at 16 and 18.
"I can't believe I won. I just –– I really can't," Every said. "Being close to winning out here, I mean it can be kind of discouraging because if you don't win you just wonder if it's ever going to happen. And sometimes on the other side you tell yourself, well, maybe it's meant to be somewhere else, somewhere better. And I don't see how it could get much better than this, being so close to where I grew up and all the fans out there that were cheering me on. It was awesome."
Jason Kokrak, who played alongside Every the final day, was fourth at 73-278.
World No. 3 Henrik Stenson capped a strong weekend with a 4-under 68 and tied for fifth with Erik Compton and Francesco Molinari at 9-under 279. Compton, a double-heart transplant recipient who has been an inspirational player on the TOUR, closed with a 69. Molinari shot 73.
Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer's grandson, made the cut for the third time in five appearances and finished tied for 43rd place in his first PGA TOUR event of the season.