On the eve of its return to the home of The King, the PGA Tour announced Monday 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 eagle from the 72nd fairway at Bay Hill. This week Gamez will be among the 123-man field returning to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the tournament’s third installment since Palmer’s death 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 helped shape their character, on and off the golf course,” said Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a release. “The Arnold Palmer Award will now reflect those contributions in honoring the Tour’s most outstanding rookie.”
A total of 12 former Rookie of the Year winners are in the field this week in Orlando, including 1996 recipient Tiger Woods. Recent Rookie of the Year winners include Rickie Fowler (2010), Jordan Spieth (2013), Daniel Berger (2015), Xander Schauffele (2017) and Aaron Wise (2018).