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Golf Writers from the Heart

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Roberto was much more than a sad part of a legendary Masters rules incident

Two of the biggest scorecard gaffes in golf history involved victims Jackie Pung and Roberto De Vicenzo, and now with Roberto’s death on Thursday at age 94, they have both passed away in the same year. Pung died on March 15.

De Vicenzo displayed his long-drive ability at the 1956 Masters.

De Vicenzo displayed his long-drive ability at the 1956 Masters.

I never met De Vicenzo, but as a golf writer for more than 30 years, he is forever ingrained in my golf brain for several reasons: Argentinian roots, international star of 230 victories, 1967 Open champion, 1980 U.S. Senior Open and 1974 Senior PGA winner, six PGA Tour victories, great sportsman, model gentleman with a great smile, powerful build and long hitter, World Golf Hall of Fame member, 1970 Bob Jones Award recipient. I recall when Golf Digest checked with De Vicenzo’s assistant back in the 1980s whether his name was DeVicenzo or De Vicenzo with a space, we got an official letter from Roberto on his letterhead telling us to put the space in.

And oh yes, I put what was in everyone’s death notice lead here at the end. De Vicenzo was the unfortunate rules victim at the 1968 Masters, when the 4 Tommy Aaron wrote for him on the 17th hole in Round 4 should have been a 3, so Roberto had to accept the higher score and missed a playoff with Bob Goalby, who was given the green jacket. In a great sportsman gesture, he took the error incredibly well, which led to the Jones Award.

So an all-time great champion and golf ambassador, who traveled the globe and played with Hogan and Snead up through Nicklaus, is gone. He wasn’t quite the oldest-living winner of a major still with us. Doug Ford was a group ahead of him and will be 95 on August 6. But De Vicenzo will always be remembered as a huge figure in the game as one of the original global star players whose power game and gentle manner were uniquely his.

Cliff Schrock