On the eve of the return to the home of The King, the PGA Tour announced that the annual recipient of the circuit’s Rookie of the Year honors will now receive the Arnold Palmer Award.
The Tour’s first Rookie of the Year Award went to Robert Gamez in 1990, the year he famously won his first tournament with a hole-out from the 18th fairway the last day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Gamez was among the 123-man field returning to Bay Hill to play and pay homage to Mr. Palmer, the tournament’s third installment since his passing in 2016. The Arnold Palmer Award previously went to the leading money winner from each season, but now will instead honor the top rookie.
“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 shaped their character, on and off the golf course,” said Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. “The Arnold Palmer Award will now reflect those contributions in honoring the Tour’s most outstanding rookie.”
A total of 11 former Rookie of the Year winners are in the field this year in Orlando. Recent Rookie winners include Rickie Fowler(2010), Jordan Spieth(2013), Daniel Berger(2015, Xander Schauffele(2017) and Aaron Wise(2018).
API AMBASSADORS Named
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tournament that bears the name of golf legend Arnold Palmer, who is associated with greatness. A trio of dignitaries have been named to be Ambassadors for the API. Olympic Gold Medalist and World #1 Justin Rose, Orange County, Florida Mayor Jerry Demings and TV personality Kelly Tilghman will serve as Ambassadors of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Since Arnie’s passing, ambassadors have stepped in and served the traditional hosting role at the Bay Hill Golf & Country Club.
“Mr. Palmer certainly led the way for players like myself to see the importance of using our platform to give back,” said Justin Rose.
“I am honored to help continue Arnie’s legacy of giving back to the community.”
Jerry Demings was elected the first African American Mayor of Orange County in 2018 and says, “Everyone in the county knows the lasting impact Mr. Palmer has had on the community. I am privileged to be part of this special event.”
Tilghman, a close friend of Arnold and the Palmer family, started her career at Golf Channel more than 22 years ago. The first female broadcaster to anchor PGA TOUR coverage added, ” Mr. Palmer was many things, but he was especially warm and giving. He inspired me in countless ways. It is truly an honor to serve in this role in a week that means so much to us all.”