Arnold Palmer counts a victory in 1971 Florida Citrus Open, the Orlando predecessor of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard, among his 92 professional wins. He moved the tournament across town from Rio Pinar to Bay Hill eight years later.
Coincidentally, the winner of the first Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard in 1979 was Bob Byman, a fellow Wake Forest University alumnus of the tournament's namesake. Byman's playoff victory over John Schroeder was his sole PGA Tour win.
In the face of wind chills in the teens in 1980 when half the field didn’t break 80, a bundled-up Dave Eichelberger birdied the challenging, par-three 17th hole twice on the final day to win the second Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard by three strokes.
Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson came closest to winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard in 1982. Nicklaus led Watson by three after 54 holes, but they both lost in a three-man playoff to Tom Kite, who was six back entering the final round. Kite won again in 1989.
Mike Nicolette, who grew up in Arnold Palmer’s Western Pennsylvania neighborhood, outlasted two of golf’s greats – Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman – when he led from the start and defeated Norman in a playoff in the 1983 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard for his only PGA TOUR victory.
Gary Koch fired the lowest final round – 63 – in the history of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard when he came from six strokes off the pace to tie George Burns and beat him in a playoff in 1984. Koch is the only player to have won the tournament at Rio Pinar (1977) and Bay Hill.
Fuzzy Zoeller missed his opportunity to become the second multiple winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard in 1994. The victor in 1985, Zoeller led after 70 holes in 1994 before an errant tee shot at the par-three 17th bounced off a spectator into the water. He finished second to Loren Roberts, who the following year won again and became the tournament’s first back-to-back champion.
Payne Stewart, who lived along the 11th fairway at Bay Hill at the time, displayed great course knowledge when he won the 1987 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard and set the existing tournament record of 264, then 20 under par. It was his first victory in more than three years.
Don Pooley recorded by far the most rewarding of the 17 holes-in-one that have been shot in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard when he won the $l million put up for an ace at the par-three 17th hole in 1987 with his four-iron tee shot. Half the prize went to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women.
Robert Gamez holed his seven-iron approach for eagle at the 18th hole in the final round to win the 1990 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard by a stroke over Greg Norman, twice a runner-up in the tournament. He was the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year that season.
Fred Couples essayed one of the most decisive triumphs in the storied history of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard in 1992. He rolled to a nine-stroke victory (second only to Tiger Woods’ 11-shot win in 2003) in one of the highlights of his PGA TOUR Player-of-the-Year season.
Phil Mickelson, the 1997 champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard, lost a strong bid for No. 2 in 2002 when he gambled out of the woods at the 16th hole in the last round and wound up in the water in front of the green. He finished third.
Weather didn’t daunt Ernie Els in his two finest years in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard. Rain delays forced a 36-hole Sunday finish when he won in 1998 and a Monday finale when he took the title again in 2010.
When Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard for the fourth straight year in 2003, he did something that hadn’t been accomplished in 73 years when Gene Sarazen captured his fourth consecutive Miami Open in 1930. Walter Hagen won the PGA Championship four times in a row in the mid-1920s.
Playing his final hole in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard in 2004, Arnold Palmer thrilled the gallery and his caddie grandson Sam Saunders when he hit driver-driver onto the 18th green. Saunders, now a professional on the PGA TOUR.
Who else could better present Orlando’s Signature Event? Mastercard became the longest, most enterprising and progressive sponsor in tournament history when it entered the picture with the 2004 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard. They've been our partner ever since.
To honor its patriarch at the urging of family members and others, the official name of the Bay Hill tournament became the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard in 2007.
Tiger Woods matched an all-time PGA TOUR record when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard for the eighth time in 2013. The win ascends Woods to the number 1 ranking for the first time since October 2010. Sam Snead set the record for most victories in the same tournament at the Greater Greensboro Open.