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Golfer recalls stunning defeat of Norman

Robert Gamez has recalled how he holed an approach shot on his final hole for eagle to defeat Australia's Greg Norman at the 1990 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Golfer recalls stunning defeat of Norman

Robert Gamez has recalled how he holed an approach shot on his final hole for eagle to defeat Australia's Greg Norman at the 1990 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

ROBERT GAMEZ waves to the crowd following a birdie on the first hole during the Ally Challenge presented by McLaren at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, Michigan.
ROBERT GAMEZ waves to the crowd following a birdie on the first hole during the Ally Challenge presented by McLaren at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Picture:Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The US PGA Tour's announcement that its rookie of the year award has been renamed in Arnold Palmer's honour has stirred up memories of one of Greg Norman's most memorable defeats outside golf's majors.

On Monday, the PGA Tour revealed rookie of the year winners will now receive the Arnold Palmer Award.


The rookie gong has been awarded since 1990, when American golfer Robert Gamez earned two victories in his debut season.

The second was a stunning victory to deny then world No.1 Norman at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

Gamez needed to make birdie from the fairway on his 72nd hole to join Norman in a playoff.

Instead he holed his 7-iron approach from 176 yards for an eagle and a one-stroke victory over the Australian star.

The 1990 Bay Hill event followed several occasions in the 1980s when Norman was on the receiving end of a cruel break when in contention at the majors.

Most notably when American Larry Mize chipped in for birdie from off the 11th green during a sudden-death playoff against Norman at the 1987 Masters.

Now 50 years old and competing on the Champions Tour, Gamez is in the field this week courtesy of winning the event before 2000 - a new eligibility category introduced at the elite tournament.

"To hole a shot on the last hole was unbelievable; it was crazy," Gamez told AAP when recalling his 1990 win.

"When Greg finished, he congratulated me on a good shot.

"I always admired his game; he was really aggressive and went for a lot of shots.

"Playing in the tournaments Greg was in (in the 1980s and '90s), you were just hoping to have a chance.

"Greg was so dominant, similar to the way Tiger Woods was (in the 2000s)."

Marc Leishman is the only Australian to have won the rookie of the year award, taking out the honour in 2009 after a runner-up, two other top-10s and eight top-25s.

Leishman won the 2017 Bay Hills event, the first edition after seven-times major winner and golf great Palmer's 2016 death.

World No.18 Leishman applauded the rookie award's renaming.

"It's fantastic; there are all sorts of awards named after great players and to have one named after Arnold Palmer is pretty fitting," he said.

"Arnie always made people feel comfortable and, as a rookie, you need to get comfortable on tour as quick as you can."

Joining Leishman in the field at Bay Hill is 2016 winner Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley.

AAP


AAP




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