Bay Hill winners Pampling, Campbell left off invitation list

From FOX Sports - March 13, 2018

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)Rod Pampling has played the Arnold Palmer Invitational every year since his rookie season on the PGA Tour, and none of his five victories worldwide was more rewarding than the one in 2006 at Bay Hill and sharing that handshake with the King.

Thats one reason Pampling regrets not being invited back this year.

I went to champions dinners with Arnold Palmer and he always said if youre an exempt player, as a past champion youll get a spot, Pampling said. It was a great event to win and to have your name on that trophy. Its disappointing not to play.

Pampling is not alone.

Chad Campbell also did not get in. He won at Bay Hill in 2004, and even played the first two rounds with Palmer, opening with 66-68 and then meeting the King on the 18th green when he rallied from a four-shot deficit with 12 holes to play.

Tournament director Marci Doyle says Palmer, who died in September 2016, played a big role in exemptions. She says the Arnold Palmer Invitational now has a committee of fivepresenting sponsor MasterCard, the tournament director, Arnold Palmer Enterprises, the Palmer family and a player representativeto sort through the long list of requests for exemptions.

Its literally one of the hardest parts of my job because you never have enough exemptions, Doyle said. So many guys are so worthy.

Pampling said good play takes care of all issues, and hes not upset with players who did receive them. His disappointed was rooted in comments he heard from Palmer over the years over the treatment of past champions.

The exemptions range from Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell (who served as a host last year in the first tournament without Palmer) to Curtis Luck, Stuart Appleby (runner-up to Campbell in 2004), Smylie Kaufman and Cody Gribble.

Pampling, Campbell and 57-year-old Kenny Perry are the only Bay Hill winners over the last 20 years who are not playing. Thats a little skewed because Tiger Woods is back, and he has won eight times since 2000.

We won during the Tiger era, Pampling said with a laugh. He won eight bloody times. Doesnt that make our win even more special?

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN: Mark Carnevale has bittersweet memories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, especially this year.

Carnevale, who now works as an on-course announcer for PGA Tour Radio, played the tour for most of the 1990s. He had met Palmer when he was just starting out on the mini-tours through a friend who was a member at Bay Hill, and Carnevale played in a few of the shootouts.

I saw a television interview in which Arnold told this story about his dad telling him, `If this is what you want to do, put your mind to it and you can do it, Carnevale said. Thats what kept me going in this game.

This is the 25-year anniversary of Palmer making his last cut on the PGA Tourat Bay Hill, no lessand Carnevale remembers it well.

It was the 1993 Nestle Invitational, and the third round was tough on most everyone. Carnevale had a pair of double bogeys and a triple bogey and shot 44 on the front nine, and then rallied for a 36 on the back for an 80.

He was looking at the scores in the trailer when he realized he likely would be playing with Palmer. That would have been the first time. It wouldnt be the famous shootouts Palmer had with a large group at Bay Hill, rather just the two of them.

I remember thinking, `What a place for me to thank him for where I am, Carnevale said.

But there was still golf to be played, and Andy Bean was still on the course. The bad news for Carnevale was that Bean bogeyed the 17th, which wrecked Carnevales dream pairing.

Now Im playing with Andy, and I was distraught, Carnevale said. The whole time I was telling him, `Really? How many times have you got to play with Arnold? That is one situation Ill never forget. Who knew that would be his last cut?


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