The dominant De Vicenzo
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Written by Laury Livsey @PGATOUR
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Roberto De Vicenzo won a lot in his career, more tournament titles than any player in history. Yet throughout his career, two tournaments stood out on his resume more than any others—one a victory and one a loss. At the 1967 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, De Vicenzo won his lone major title, holding off Jack Nicklaus by two strokes to raise the Claret Jug, becoming the first Latin player to breakthrough and win one of the four major championships. Yet a year later, De Vicenzo was making additional history by signing an incorrect scorecard at the Masters Tournament that dropped him out of a potential playoff with Bob Goalby, handing Goalby the title and the green jacket.
There is so much more to De Vicenzo’s career, though, the man PGA TOUR Latinoamérica is honoring this week with the Roberto De Vicenzo Memorial 100 Years at his home club, Ranelagh Golf Club. Here is a look at 15 additional noteworthy tournaments De Vicenzo played in, all resulting in wins, victories that added to the fabric of his World Golf Hall of Fame career as what would have been his 100th birthday approaches.
1942 Abierto del Litoral
While still a teenager, De Vicenzo won his first professional title, the tournament, in English, known as the Coast Open. The event at historic Rosario Golf Club in Rosario, Argentina, resulted in him shooting a new 72-hole tournament scoring mark, an 11-under 277. It shattered the 282 posted by Marcos Churio a year earlier. De Vicenzo’s scoring mark held up for 43 years, until Argentina’s Armando Saavedra fired a tournament-winning, 13-under 275. De Vicenzo would go on to win this tournament four additional times.
1944 Argentine Open
Winning his national open and putting the trophy on his mantel was something De Vicenzo always wanted, and he accomplished that goal in his third try as a pro, beating Arturo Soto at Ituzaingo Golf Club. It was the first of nine Argentine Open titles he would win between his first triumph and last, in 1974.
1944 Argentine PGA Championship
Back at Ituzaingo Golf Club that same season, De Vicenzo dominated the 36-hole match-play finale against 1943 champ Eduardo Blasi, taking the title with a convincing 10-and-9 triumph over Blasi. Between 1944 and 1985, De Vicenzo won this tournament 16 times, the most of any tournament in his career.
1946 Ranelagh Open
This tournament was significant because it was De Vicenzo’s first professional title won at Ranelagh Country Club, his home course. There was added importance because of the caliber of players in the field. De Vicenzo finished regulation tied with PGA TOUR star Lloyd Mangrum, with the tournament electing to crown co-champions that year and not conduct a playoff. De Vicenzo and Mangrum, who would later both enter the World Golf Hall of Fame, defeated by three strokes PGA TOUR player Vic Ghezzi, a former PGA Championship winner and eventual owner of 11 PGA TOUR titles.
1948 North British-Harrogate Tournament
This was De Vicenzo’s first victory outside of Latin America and the Caribbean. At the tournament played at Oakdale Golf Club in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England, he earned £500 by defeating Reginald Horne, who three years earlier had won News of the World Match Play, the first tournament conducted in Europe following the end of World War II.
1951 Palm Beach Round Robin
The tournament at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, New York, was not De Vicenzo’s first PGA TOUR appearance, but it was his first victory. With the tournament using a unique round-robin scoring system, which related each player’s scores to those of the other members in his foursome each day, De Vicenzo finished with 40 points, 12 better than Australian Jim Ferrier, who finished second.
1952 Panama Open
De Vicenzo’s victory in 1952 was significant as it began a three-year head-to-head battle with Sam Snead. In their first battle, De Vicenzo took down The Slammer to win his first title in Panama in what was really a two-man race. De Vicenzo prevailed by three shots, and the next-closest pursuers were amateur Harvey Breaux and Colombia’s Pablo Molina, 10 strokes behind the winner.
1953 Panama Open
A year after beating Snead in Panama City, De Vicenzo was at it again, this time coming from a stroke behind Snead, who led after 54 holes. The Argentine also added Charlie Harper and Clayton Heafner to his list of victims, the three U.S. players finishing runner-up to De Vicenzo, who shot a final-round 69 to take the title. In 1954, Snead exacted revenge on De Vicenzo, defeating his Argentine nemesis in Panama by six strokes.
1962 World Cup
Enjoying a home game, De Vicenzo entered the final round of the International Trophy, the individual-portion of the annual event, a stroke behind Snead. But three bogeys and a double bogey left Snead shooting a 74, opening the door for De Vicenzo’s 68 that gave him his first individual title. Adding up his and partner Fidel de Luca’s scores, the Argentine team fell by two strokes to the U.S. squad of Snead and Arnold Palmer.
1968 Houston Champions International
In a tournament that may have shown De Vicenzo’s mettle and tenacity better than any other, he shook off the disappointment of his Masters scorecard incident and won his final PGA TOUR title a mere three weeks after all the drama he experienced at Augusta National. De Vicenzo trailed Jack Nicklaus and Dan Sikes by a stroke at the midway mark of the tournament at Champions Golf Club, fell three strokes behind Sikes after shooting an even-par 71 in the third round then rallied with a final-round, 3-under 68 to edge Lee Trevino by one shot.
1970 World Cup
In the International Trophy, the individual portion of the worldwide team event, De Vicenzo opened with an 8-under 64 at the Jockey Club in his native Buenos Aires, shot a 67 on day two and held a one-shot, 36-hole lead. Although he dropped two back of Australia’s David Graham with 18 holes to play, De Vicenzo rebounded with a 2-under 70 to Graham’s 73, allowing the Argentine to win by a shot. In the team portion, De Vicenzo’s Argentina team, with teammate Vicente Fernandez, finished regulation tied with the Australia team of Graham and Bruce Devlin, with Australia winning the playoff.
1973 Venezuela Open
In early January, De Vicenzo won his first tournament after turning 50. At Valle Arriba Golf Club in Caracas, he battled England’s Peter Oosterhuis and Fernandez all week before eventually prevailing by a stroke. It was no small feat as De Vicenzo also had to get by former major championship winners Tony Jacklin and Art Wall, who also played and contended.
1974 PGA Seniors’ Championship
In the oldest senior event in golf, De Vicenzo made his first appearance in the tournament once he turned 50 and made the most of his opportunity at Port St. Lucie Hilton Country Club in Florida. He became the tournament’s second international winner, after Scotland’s Fred McLeod, who won the second playing of the tournament, in 1938. De Vicenzo began the final round three strokes behind 54-hole leader Julius Boros but took control when he made five consecutive birdies, starting at No. 9, to walk away with a three-stroke victory.
1980 U.S. Senior Open
PGA TOUR Champions, a new Tour designed for players 50 and older, had already begun a week earlier, at the Atlantic City International. Players then traveled to legendary Winged Foot Golf Club in New York for the first U.S. Senior Open, and De Vicenzo started slowly, opening with a 2-over 74. His second round wasn’t much better, a 73. The good news is the difficult course challenged all players, and the Argentine was still tied for fourth through 36 holes, only three shots behind leader, amateur Bill Campbell. De Vicenzo turned in 4-under 68 in the third round to seize a two-stroke lead over Wall, and De Vicenzo coasted from there, posting a final-round 70 for a 3-under total and a four-shot triumph over Campbell.
1985 Argentine PGA Championship
At age 62, De Vicenzo won the tournament for a record-setting 16th time, the 226th trophy in his illustrious career. Seven of his Argentine PGA Championship titles were when the tournament used a match-play format, with the other nine—including this event, coming at stroke play. De Vicenzo defeated Alberto Albornoz at the Golf Club General San Martin.