Spring tradition: The Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer may no longer be among us but the vitality of his legacy will be in sharp focus at the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill this week. Here are some vivid reminders why the tournament has become one of the annual highlights of the PGA Tour season

1971 – That winning feeling

The moment Arnold Palmer won the Florida Citrus Invitational at Rio Pinar. The precursor to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rio Pinar had long been one of Palmer’s favorite tour stops.

1979 – New home

Palmer brought the tournament to his Bay Hill Club in 1979. The Bay Hill Citrus Classic has been through a few name changes since then but home has remained Bay Hill. (Program cover, below, courtesy of Alastair Johnston.)

1990 – Holed it

On the last hole in the final round in 1990, Robert Gamez holed his second shot—a seven-iron from the middle of the fairway—for an eagle to defeat a disbelieving Greg Norman and Larry Mize. A plaque now marks the spot from where Gamez played the shot of his life.

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2007 – Sign here

A fan admires the fruits of his autograph hunting at the 2007 Arnold Palmer Invitational. This is an event at which the host would regularly remind his fellow pros of the importance of making time for their fans.

1998 – Playing with knives

Palmer shows Ernie Els how to weald the Trophy Sword after the South African won in 1998. The sword was replaced with a sterling silver trophy in 2007 (probably safer…).

2000 – Thrice the bridesmaid

How Davis Love III would have loved to win his mentor’s tournament, but it has so far eluded him. He’s been close though; runner-up three times, in 1989 (losing a playoff to Tom Kite), 1993 (two behind Ben Crenshaw and tied with Rocco Mediate and Vijay Singh) and in 2000 (pictured here, four behind Woods).

Set of 8

Tiger Woods has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational eight times. Eight wins in the same event is a PGA Tour record Woods shares with Sam Snead (eight wins in the Greater Greensboro Open, 1938-1965) and, er, himself (Woods has eight wins in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational).

Leader of the pack

Palmer soaks in the atmosphere at the 2007 tournament.

 

2016 – Reigning Champ

Jason Day is the defending champ at Bay Hill this year, having won in 2016 after saying how “I normally struggle in Florida”. After the 2016 tournament Palmer told Kingdom: “Jason’s wire-to-wire victory was quite impressive, and I’m sure you can expect more great performances from him coming up”.

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