Robert Gamez holds the record for the longest time between wins on the PGA Tour at exactly 15 years, 6 months between his memorable Nestle Invitational win at Bay Hill in 1990 and the Valero Texas Open in 2005.
Before we get into Gamez, here’s his bottom line and how it compares to the other five players with large gaps between wins on the PGA Tour (the records are from the PGA Tour Media Guide):
Longest time between victories on the PGA Tour
- 15 years, 6 months: Robert Gamez – 1990 Nestle Invitational and 2005 Valero Texas Open
- 15 years, 5 months, 10 days: Butch Baird – 1961 Waco Turner Open Invitational and 1976 San Antonio Texas Open
- 14 years, 7 months, 29 days: Ed Fiori – 1982 Bob Hope Desert Classic and 1996 Quad City Classic
- 13 years, 8 months: Joey Sindelar – 1990 Hardee’s Golf Classic and 2004 Wachovia Championship
- 13 years, 8 months: Tommy Armor III – 1990 Phoenix Open and 2003 Valero Texas Open
- 13 years, 6 months, 20 days, Gene Sauers – 1989 Hawaiian Open and 2002 Air Canada Championship
Here’s more about Gamez’s record win and the others on the list:
Robert Gamez: 15 years, 6 months between the 1990 Nestle Invitational and the 2005 Valero Texas Open
Robert Gamez’s stroke, who won the Nestle Invitational at Bay Hill (above) in 1990, is one of the best hole-outs of all time on the PGA Tour. Gamez says in this video that he chose to hit a 7-iron draw instead of a 6-iron cut. Johnny Miller makes a prophetic call on NBC when Gamez hits the shot: “He probably puts more spin into the ball than almost anyone else in the game.” The rest is history. Gamez’s Eagle shot him in front of Greg Norman and Larry Mize.
The Michael Mayo game story survives on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel website. It includes this great quote from Greg Norman:
“I’ve never met the guy,” said Norman, who finished one stroke afterward and fell victim to another gruesome twist in golf’s fate. “But if he can pocket a stroke like that on the last hole, he can play well.”
The win was Gamez ‘second on the PGA Tour. He won – in his first career start – at the Northern Telecom Tucson Open in 1990. Gamez was, according to this Tucson.com article, a short-term addition to the field due to an exemption from a sponsor when Art Wall (!) Decided not to play:
The final sponsor exception for the 1990 Northern Telecom Tucson Open was offered to the 1959 Masters champion Art Wall, who was retired and based in Sonoita. lived [Arizona].
But after Wall drove to TPC Starr Pass and played the new course, he decided that two of the par-5s were too long for his game. He asked the sponsors of the Tucson Conquistadores to offer the exemption to someone else.
Gamez, Arizona College Golfer of the Year 1989, got the course and won with four strokes. By the way, the year after Gamez, College Golfer of the Year 1990 won a sponsorship waiver for the Tucson Open. That was amateur Phil Mickelson from Arizona State University. He won the tournament for his first professional win of his career and will be the last amateur to win an event on the PGA Tour.
Gamez finished in 1990 as the 52nd player in the world. Although he only won the PGA Tour again in 2005, he won the Casio World Open in Japan in 1994 and reached seven runner-ups on the PGA Tour between 1991 and 2003.
Gamez’s record-breaking win came almost 16 years later after shooting a scorching 62 in the first round at the 2005 Valero Texas Open, followed by 68-68-64 to win three shots over Olin Brown for $ 603,000 . The victory came on September 25, 2005; 15 years, exactly 6 months to the day, since he won the Nestle Invitational 1990 on March 25, 1990.
Butch Baird: 15 years, 5 months, 10 days between the 1961 Waco Turner Open Invitational and the 1976 San Antonio Texas Open
Butch Baird was 40 when he rolled a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole at the Lakewood Country Club in San Antonio to beat Miller Barber. The win was his first in more than 15 years and came after the field had played 36 holes on Sunday due to heavy rain the day before.
Baird entered the playoff with a 65 in his second 18, which included an ace at 182 yards, 12th hole, according to AP history that day.
A few hours before Baird took the win, 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros made five birdies on the final nine holes to duel 47-year-old Arnold Palmer in Paris, France, half a world away at the Lancome Trophy golf tournament. From the AP:
Palmer, 47 years old, apparently within reach of his first tournament win of the year, watched in amazement as Ballesteros made up a four-stroke lead and then took the lead on the 17th hole of the fourth round. Ballesteros finished St. Nom la Breteche’s 6,875 yard course with a 5 under par 283.
Ed Fiori: 14 years, 7 months, 29 days between the 1982 Bob Hope Desert Classic and the 1996 Quad City Classic
Veteran Ed Fiori earned $ 180,000 for his fourth career win – the most he’d won in a year since 1989, according to UPI gaming history.
Fiori finished two shots ahead of Andrew Magee. Rookie Tiger Woods led the final lap with one shot and finished four strokes back.
“Woods, 20 … had a quadruple bogey on the fourth hole en route to 2 over 72. Still, it was the first top 10 professional finish for the three-time US amateur champion to have a win or about 60,000 US – Needs dollars at the remaining PGA events to qualify for a tour exemption for next year. “
Joey Sindelar – 13 years, 8 months between the 1990 Hardee’s Golf Classic and the 2004 Wachovia Championship
Sindelar outplayed a strong field in Quail Hollow that included Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. According to Jeff Babineau’s gaming history, he made more money in one day than he made in each of his 20 seasons on the tour. This is what he had to say:
“It’s wild. I really want to know what my parents are thinking right now. My father delivered mail for 35 years and my mother drove a school bus.
Tommy Armor III – 13 years, 8 months between the 1990 Phoenix Open and the 2003 Valero Texas Open.
Tommy Armor III shot 64-63-62-65-254 to break the PGA Tour’s 72-hole scoring record and win the 2003 Valero Texas Open for the first time in more than 13 years. Armor III’s record was shared once and then broken by Justin Thomas with rounds of 59-64-65-65-253 at the 2017 Sony Open.
Armor III has a reputation for being one of the most fun-loving guys in the game. The headline of this 2002 Sports Illustrated feature about Armor III tells the story: “Mr. Fabulous: Tommy Armor III, a lover of chic clothes, fine dining, and beautiful women, lives his life like a man who is desperate to prove himself that not everything “tour players tedious automatons.”
Gene Sauers – 13 years, 6 months, 20 days between the 1989 Hawaiian Open and the 2002 Air Canada Championship
Alex Driehaus / Naples Daily News / USA TODAY via Imagn Content Services
The story of Sauers is one of the most inspiring in the game. He overcome a rare, fatal skin condition that kept him away from golf for several years and won the Senior US Open in 2016.
Sauers is the final winner of the Air Canada Championship, also known as the Vancouver Open, which ended after the 2002 edition. That was the same tournament that Stan Utley set a PGA Tour record with six putts in nine holes.