1968 Masters: The Bob Goalby–Roberto DeVincenzo debacle

DeVincenzo

“What A Stupid I Am!”-Roberto DeVincenzo

By: Claudia Muzzacco

On April 14, 1968 Bob Goalby captured the 32nd Masters Tournament as an error in signing his card cost Argentine Roberto De Vicenzo the opportunity to tie in 277 strokes, 11 under par.  

De Vicenzo was celebrating his 45th birthday that Sunday at Augusta. He had won the Open Championship in 1967, and entered the final round at Augusta two strokes off the lead. He was in the clubhouse with a brilliant 65, 7 under par, which was just one shot off the Masters record. On the 17th hole, he had taken a birdie with two-foot putt, but his playing partner, Tommy Aaron, who was keeping his opponent’s scorecard, wrote accidentally a 4 and De Vicenzo signed the incorrect scorecard. That meant he had to take the higher score at that hole, giving him a 66 rather than the 65 he actually shot. 

Goalby shot 66 in the final round. He made a 4-footer on 18 for par that he thought was to tie. Instead, he was declared champion by Hord Hardin, the president of the U.S. Golf Association and chairman of the Masters rules committee: “Under the rules of golf, he (De Vicenzo) will be charged with a 66, which does not leave him in a tie with Bob Goalby, who is 11 under par. He is second, 10 under par.” 

Under the Rules of Golf, Roberto officially lost by one stroke. “Twenty-five million people saw Roberto birdie the 17th hole,” said pro Jimmy Demaret. “I think it would hold up in court.” De Vicenzo was left uttering one of the most conspicuous comments in golf’s storied history: “What a stupid I am.” 

The playoff never happened. Goalby received the green jacket and got his name in the record books. Technically, the ending was legal. But Roberto has always felt that the winner has not yet emerged. “I can see how Roberto might feel I could have changed things by asking for a playoff,” Goalby said years later. “But even if I had wanted to playoff doesn’t mean there would have been one. I couldn’t change the rules of golf or what they had decided.” 

After the tournament, chairman Clifford Roberts sent De Vicenzo the sterling silver cigarette box engraved with the signatures of the previous winners. It was the first and only time from 1954 to 1992 that it was given to anyone except the victor. Roberto and Goalby are still great friends. They have played together at the Legends Senior Tournament for several years.  

Claudia Mazzucco

Claudia M. Mazzucco is a researcher at Golf Channel and teacher of History of Golf at the PGA of Argentina, in Buenos Aires. She is the author of Legendary Lessons (2016), El Golf de los Tiempos, A Novel (2002) and The Guide of Golf Courses in Argentina (2003). She received the PGA Award from the PGA of Argentina in 2005

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