The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

Bob Goalby, Masters Champion 1968The Masters golf tournament was played this past weekend. Being a golf fan I watched avidly. Some people say golf is boring to watch, but the name of the game is drama. Human interest stories make the players interesting.

(Left: Bob Goalby accepting the green jacket symbolic of The Masters Championship)

This tournament, one of professional golf’s four majors (others are US Open, British Open, and The PGA), are the diamonds of the tour. Ask any player and he will tell you that winning a major is his goal. It isn’t the money alone, but rather the prestige and accompanying endorsements that result from winning the players are after. To top it off the tour rewards winners of the Masters and other majors with exemptions and invitations to events that can relieve the pressure of winning. For example Masters winners get automatic invitations to the other majors for the next five years, a lifetime invitation to The Masters, and PGA Tour card for the following five years.

Back in 1968 when the four rounds of the Masters were completed there was a two-way tie between American Bob Goalby and Argentinian Roberto DeVicenzo. Both players were preparing for an eighteen-hole playoff, but first under PGA Tour rules they had to verify their scorecards and sign them to make it official. Most times this is a formality. Not this time.

There was a mistake on DeVicenzo’s scorecard. His playing partner, fellow professional, Tommy Aaron, marked a 4 on the No. 17 hole, when DeVicenzo had in fact made a 3. DeVicenzo failed to catch the mistake and signed the scorecard as being accurate. Professional Golfers Association rules state the “the higher written score signed by a golfer on his card must stand”. Because DeVicenzo now had a higher score by one stroke, Goalby won The Masters championship.

(Left: Goalby and DeVicenzo going over Roberto’s scorecard in disbelief. Sports Illustrated cover from April 22, 1968)

I still remember the dazed look on both player’s faces. DeVicenzo was in shock for making such an elementary mistake. Goalby being the consumate professional wanted to win, but his joy was tainted by winning this way. DeVicenzo to his great credit went over to Goalby and embraced him and congratulated him. Roberto spoke to the press and told them that Goalby was a deserving winner. Sportsmanship was displayed for all to see, but the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat were never so vivid.



3 Responses to The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

  1. Dennis Price says:

    Great Post. I love golf on TV. I nap and snack and rarely miss any of the action. I read baseball scores the next day. I watch the last ten seconds of basketball games, the last three minutes of football games, and I don’t even stop on hockey. I have to watch more of the fighting venues, especially heavyweights, because you never know when they will end. But, golf is probably the only professional sport that hasn’t been ruined by the current ghetto mentality in Sports today.

  2. stamperdad says:

    He had no choice. The PGA rules cost DeVicenzo, not Goalby. Golf is a traditional game where rules are foremost. Verifying and signing the scorecard takes place at every tournament, not just the Masters. Every player knows the rule and it is there to ensure accuracy of the scores.

    Actually he tried not to accept, but was told he had to and DeVicenzo told him he wanted him to accept, the it was his (DeVicenzo’s) own fault.

    Appreciate the comment.

  3. Auria Cortes says:

    From my perspective, Goalby shouldn’t have accepted the win.

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