Today at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, the PGA TOUR announced that as a tribute to the late Arnold Palmer, the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year – as voted upon by the TOUR’s membership — will now receive the Arnold Palmer Award.
The PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year dates back to 1990, with the inaugural winner Robert Gamez compiling a season that included two wins, perhaps most notably the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he holed out from the fairway on the 72nd hole at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge to defeat Greg Norman by one shot. A marble plaque on the right side of the 18th fairway remains in place today, commemorating one of the PGA TOUR’s most memorable finishes.
“Arnold Palmer was golf’s greatest ambassador with his go-for-broke style of play, his charitable endeavors and his true passion and respect for the game and its fans,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “A thumbs up, a wink, a carefully signed autograph, a thank you – simple gestures like these passed on by Mr. Palmer to countless young players helped shape their character, on and off the golf course. The Arnold Palmer Award will now reflect those contributions in honoring the TOUR’s most outstanding rookie. Our thanks to the Palmer family and the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation for their support with this initiative.”
There are 12 former Rookies of the Year scheduled to compete in the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational field: Daniel Berger (2015), Keegan Bradley (2011), Ernie Els (1994), Rickie Fowler (2010), Robert Gamez (1990), Chesson Hadley (2014), Charles Howell III (2001), Marc Leishman (2009), Vijay Singh (1993), Brandt Snedeker (2007), Aaron Wise (2018) and Tiger Woods (1996).
Five of those players – Els (1998 and 2010), Gamez (1990), Leishman (2017), Singh (2007) and Woods (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013) have also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational during their respective careers.
The Arnold Palmer Award, a trophy previously awarded to the PGA TOUR’s season-long money-leader, is among a select group of awards presented annually by the TOUR. The Jack Nicklaus Award is awarded to the PGA TOUR Player of the Year, as voted by the TOUR’s membership, while the Byron Nelson Award recognizes the player with the lowest adjusted scoring average in a season (minimum 50 official rounds). In 2000, the PGA TOUR introduced the Payne Stewart Award presented by Southern Company, honoring a professional golfer who best exemplifies Stewart’s steadfast value of character, charity and sportsmanship. Palmer, Nicklaus and Nelson were the inaugural recipients of the Payne Stewart Award.