ORLANDO, Fla. (February 11, 2020) – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard champion Marc Leishman, and singer/songwriter Darius Rucker will serve as the ambassadors for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard March 5-8 at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla.
Since 2017, ambassadors have assisted with traditional roles at key events to perpetuate Mr. Palmer’s legacy. All of this year’s ambassadors personify the legacy of Arnold Palmer, earning the highest achievements in their industry while sharing his commitment to giving back to others.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has served as Mayor since 2003, and has worked tirelessly to shape Orlando into a future-ready city where unity and partnership are the keys to opening the doors of opportunity for all residents. Prior to Mayor, he served for a decade in the Florida Senate. Mayor Dyer earned his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Brown University and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Florida College of Law. Before he chose to serve in public office, Mayor Dyer worked as an environmental engineer.
"Orlando is known as a compassionate community that always comes together to make a difference and Arnold Palmer embodied that spirit like no else," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "I'm deeply honored to be named one of the three ambassadors for this year's tournament and to continue Arnold Palmer's great legacy."
Marc Leishman, the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard champion, was the first champion to receive the red cardigan for his victory. A native of Australia, Leishman, 36, has won five PGA TOUR titles, including last month's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, and five international titles. He has competed for the International Team in the Presidents Cup four times and twice has represented Australia in the World Cup.
Marc and his wife Audrey founded the Begin Again Foundation in 2016 after Audrey survived a life-threatening bout with sepsis in 2015. The foundation's mission is to support families that are battling medical and life challenges. In 2018, the couple helped open the first-on-TOUR Family Care Suite at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
“It is truly an honor to serve in this role during a week that meant so much to us all,” said Leishman. “As a winner of this prestigious event, I’m so thankful that Mr. Palmer touched the lives of me and my family. His outstanding character, the way he treated others and the way he grew the game of golf are qualities I’ve always admired about him. He was a true champion in every sense of the word.”
Rucker, a personal friend of Mr. Palmer, first attained multi-Platinum status in the music industry as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the GRAMMY Award-winning band Hootie & the Blowfish. Since releasing his first Country album in 2008, he has celebrated four No. 1 albums on the Billboard Country chart and nine No. 1 singles on Country radio. In 2014, Rucker won his third career GRAMMY Award for Best Solo Country Performance with his 4x Platinum-selling cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.” Last year saw Rucker return to the road with his Hootie & the Blowfish bandmates for their first full tour in over a decade as they celebrated the release of new album Imperfect Circle.
In addition to his musical accomplishments, Rucker is also impacting the world through the game of golf. Monday After the Masters, a Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation charity pro-am started by the band in 1994, has since raised millions of dollars in support of public schools and junior golf programs in South Carolina. Rucker himself has helped raise millions more through Darius & Friends, an annual concert and golf event benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is also a frequent performer at Rock Fore! Dough, an annual concert benefitting the First Tee of Augusta.
In recognition of his charitable endeavors via the game of golf, Rucker received Golf Digest’s prestigious Arnie Award in February 2019.
“Arnold Palmer is a true icon and someone I greatly admired because of his graciousness and desire to give to others,”’ said Rucker. “To be one of the 2020 tournament ambassadors is a blessing, and I’m thrilled to help honor a man who was so widely respected by generations of golf fans and non-golf fans alike.”
This year marks the 42nd staging of the tournament that bears the name of golf legend, Arnold Palmer. Mr. Palmer brought the former Florida Citrus Open to his Bay Hill Club in 1979 and turned it into one of the most elite events in golf. It offers a purse of $9.3 million, one of the richest on the PGA TOUR, and the winner will receive a three-year TOUR exemption instead of two years.
2017: Peter Jacobsen, Graeme McDowell, former Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge, Annika Sorenstam and Curtis Strange
2018: Rickie Fowler, Peter Jacobsen, Nancy Lopez
2019: Justin Rose, Kelly Tilghman, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings
About the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
The Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, March 5-8, 2020, is Central Florida’s signature sporting event and a highlight of the PGA TOUR, attracting the greatest names in golf. All proceeds from the tournament benefit the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation, whose mission is to create a brighter future for our youth - through children’s health, character development and nature-focused wellness.
Dana Gordon, BZA PR on behalf of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, firstname.lastname@example.org; 856-397-2917
Liz McCollum, BZA PR on behalf of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, email@example.com; 813-421-0550