Robert Gamez holds the record for the longest time between wins on the PGA Tour at exactly 15 years, 6 months between his memorable 1990 Nestle Invitational win at Bay Hill and the 2005 Valero Texas Open.
Before we get to Gamez, here's his record and how it ranks in comparison to the other five players with big gaps between wins on the PGA Tour (records are from the PGA Tour media guide):
Longest time between wins 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 Armour 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 on Gamez's record-setting victory and the others on the list:
Robert Gamez: 15 years, 6 months between the 1990 Nestle Invitational and 2005 Valero Texas Open
The shot Robert Gamez hit to win the 1990 Nestle Invitational at Bay Hill (above) is one of the all-time great hole-outs on the PGA Tour. Gamez says in that video that he decided to hit a 7-iron draw instead of a 6-iron cut. Johnny Miller makes a prophetic call on the NBC broadcast when Gamez hits the shot: "He probably puts more spin on the ball than almost anybody in the game." The rest is history. Gamez's eagle put him a shot ahead of Greg Norman and Larry Mize.
The game story by Michael Mayo survives on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's web site. It includes this great Greg Norman quote:
"I've never met the guy," said Norman, who finished one shot behind, victim of yet another cruel twist of golf fate. "But if he can hole a shot like that on the final hole, I guess he can play."
The victory was Gamez's second on the PGA Tour. He won — in his first career start — at the 1990 Northern Telecom Tucson Open. Gamez, according to this Tucson.com article, was a last-minute addition to the field on a sponsor's exemption when Art Wall (!) decided not to play:
The final sponsor’s exemption for the 1990 Northern Telecom Tucson Open was offered to 1959 Masters champion Art Wall, who was retired and living in Sonoita [Arizona].
But after Wall drove to TPC Starr Pass and played the new course, he decided that two of the par-5’s were too long for his game. He told the sponsoring Tucson Conquistadores to offer the exemption to someone else.
Gamez, the college golfer of the year in 1989 at Arizona, got the spot and won by four shots. Incidentally, the year after Gamez won, the 1990 college golfer of the year got a sponsor's exemption into the Tucson Open. That was Arizona State University amateur Phil Mickelson. He won the tournament for his first career professional victory and is the last amateur to win an event on the PGA Tour.
Gamez ended 1990 as the 52nd-ranked player in the world. Although he didn't win again on the PGA Tour until 2005, he won the Casio World Open in Japan in 1994 and had seven runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour between 1991 and 2003.
Gamez's record-breaking victory came nearly 16 years later after he shot a scorching 62 in the first round at the 2005 Valero Texas open and followed that with 68-68-64 to win by three shots over Olin Brown and earn $603,000. The victory came on September 25, 2005; 15 years, 6 months to the day since he holed out to win the 1990 Nestle Invitational on March 25, 1990.
Butch Baird: 15 years, 5 months, 10 days between the 1961 Waco Turner Open Invitational and 1976 San Antonio Texas Open
Butch Baird was 40 when he rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Miller Barber in San Antonio at Lakewood Country Club. The win was his first in more than 15 years and came after the field played 36 holes on Sunday because of heavy rain the day before.
Baird got into the playoff with a 65 in his second 18 that included an ace at the 182-yard, 12th hole, according to the AP's story that day.
A few hours before Baird got the win, 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros made five birdies on the final nine holes to outduel 47-year-old Arnold Palmer half a world away in Paris, France, at the Lancome Trophy golf tournament. From the AP:
Palmer, 47 years old, seemingly within reach of his first tournament victory of the year, watched with amazement as Ballesteros erased a four-stroke lead and then went ahead at the 17th hole of the fourth round. Ballesteros finished with a five‐under‐par 283 on the 6,875‐yard St. Nom la Breteche course.
Ed Fiori: 14 years, 7 months, 29 days between the 1982 Bob Hope Desert Classic and 1996 Quad City Classic
Veteran Ed Fiori earned $180,000 for his fourth career victory — the most he had won in any single year since 1989, according to the UPI game story.
Fiori finished two shots ahead of Andrew Magee. Rookie Tiger Woods led by a shot entering the final round and finished four shots 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 U.S. Amateur Champion, who needs a win or approximately $60,000 in the remaining PGA events to receive a Tour exemption for next year."
Joey Sindelar — 13 years, 8 months between the 1990 Hardee's Golf Classic and 2004 Wachovia Championship
Sindelar outplayed a strong field at Quail Hollow that included Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. He won more money in a day than he had made in any of his 20 seasons on Tour, according to Jeff Babineau's game story. Here's what he had to say:
"That’s wild. I really want to know what my parents are thinking right now. My dad delivered mail for 35 years and my mom drove a school bus. That’s a stupid amount of money, no matter what you do."
Tommy Armour III — 13 years, 8 months between the 1990 Phoenix Open and 2003 Valero Texas Open.
Tommy Armour III shot 64-63-62-65-254 to break the PGA Tour's 72-hole scoring record and win for the first time in more than 13 years at the 2003 Valero Texas Open. Armour III's record was tied once and then broken by Justin Thomas with rounds of 59-64-65-65-253 in the 2017 Sony Open.
Armour III has a reputation as one of the most fun-loving guys in the game. The headline on this Sports Illustrated feature on Armour III from 2002 tells the story: "Mr. Fabulous: A lover of fancy clothes, fine food and beautiful women, Tommy Armour III lives his life like a man hell-bent on proving that not all Tour players tedious automatons."
Gene Sauers — 13 years, 6 months, 20 days between the 1989 Hawaiian Open and 2002 Air Canada Championship
Sauers' story is one of the most inspirational in the game. He's overcome a rare, lethal skin disease that kept him out of golf for several years and won the 2016 Senior U.S. Open.
Sauers has the distinction of being the last person to win the Air Canada Championship, also known as the Vancouver Open, which ended after the 2002 edition. That was the same tournament where Stan Utley tied a PGA Tour record with six putts in nine holes.