DUBLIN, OHIO | Less than five years ago, Jack Nicklaus was with his old friend Roberto De Vicenzo in Argentina and the subject came up because, well, it was always there.
“We were with him and he always talked about how he said, ‘I’m stupid,’ because of what he did at The Masters that one year,” Nicklaus said. “Forty years later, he still talked about it.”
De Vicenzo died Thursday at age 94 in his native Argentina.
He was one of the finest players of his generation, a winner of an estimated 230 worldwide titles including eight PGA Tour events, nine European Tour events and the 1967 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
But it was the 1968 Masters that stayed with De Vicenzo like a birthmark. He finished 72 holes at Augusta National tied with Bob Goalby but because he signed an incorrect scorecard – playing partner Tommy Aaron wrote down a 4 rather than the 3 De Vicenzo made at the 17th hole and De Vicenzo didn’t catch it – De Vicenzo had to take the score he signed for, meaning he finished one stroke back.
Goalby was the Masters champion and De Vicenzo became an enduring example of golf’s occasionally cruel nature.
“I play golf all over the world for 30 years and now all I can think of is what a stupid I am to be wrong in this wonderful tournament,” De Vicenzo said that Sunday afternoon.
The words remained attached to De Vicenzo – “what a stupid I am” – though they couldn’t dull his brilliance as a player. He was the face of golf in Argentina.
“He was a strong, strong, good player,” Nicklaus said. “I think he was an instinctive player. He played with feel.
“He was a nice man and you always miss nice guys.”