Stenson had seen his two-shot overnight lead turned into a two-shot deficit in the space of eight holes, but fought back to reclaim the outright lead with six holes of the final round to play.
However, the Ryder Cup star – who had played the final four holes in four-under on Friday and Saturday – three-putted the 15th for a bogey and did the same for par on the 16th after finding the green in two.
The Swede then saw a 20-foot putt to force a play-off at the 18th slide past the cup, as Matt Every became only the??third player in the??tournament’s history to successfully defend the title.
Stenson???s group were timed for slow play by tournament officials for three holes from the sixth and again from the 15th, with the world No 2 convinced the decision affected his performance on the closing holes.
“I’m obviously a little disappointed with the outcome,??? the world No 2 told reporters. “I’m as much disappointed with the PGA Tour officials for putting us on the clock on 15, starting to chase us down the stretch.
???It’s busy enough trying to close out a golf tournament and to play the finishing holes without being on the clock.
???When you’re coming down the stretch you want to be able to have five extra seconds not to try and rush you routines and playing.?? So, on the green I didn’t really have much time to look at my putt and rushed that.
???I didn’t see the point of the officials influencing potentially the outcome of this tournament towards the end there. It felt like they could have let us go from 15 onwards.?? It’s not like anyone would have taken too much time on that.”
Although Stenson missed out on a first victory of 2015, the Swede’s third consecutive top-four finish on the PGA Tour was enough to leapfrog the absent Bubba Watson as the world’s No 2.??
While he was quick to praise Every for back-to-back Bay Hill wins, Stenson believes his game is showed encouraging signs in his penultimate appearance before next month’s Masters.??
He added: “Of course disappointed not to come out on top but all in all a good week. I saw Matt was making a move and all credit to him.?? He played a solid golf round and shot what, to win by one.
“My goal is to play as good as I can and be up in contention as many times as I can, and the more times I’m there the more tournaments I will win.??
“It’s not like I haven’t won something. It’s still a lot of good practice to feel the heat and be out there in contention today.”