NOTWITHSTANDING HIS more than 230 victories, including the 1967 British Open, Roberto De Vicenzo's fame comes from one very costly mistake. On the final day of the 1968 Masters, the Argentinean shot a seven-under 65 and was headed for a playoff with Bob Goalby to settle golf's most prestigious tournament. But first De Vicenzo had to sign his scorecard. Playing partner Tommy Aaron kept De Vicenzo's score that day, and on the par-4 17th hole Aaron inadvertently recorded a par, though De Vicenzo had made a birdie 3. When De Vicenzo signed the erroneous card, it gave him an official score of 66 and a four-round total of 278—one behind Goalby's 277. He would play in the Masters six more times, never again coming so close to winning. "Every now and then I will drop a tear," he says, "but I've moved on."
Indeed, De Vicenzo estimates he has earned as much as $250,000 in appearance fees and other opportunities stemming from the incident. "I've gotten more out of signing the card wrong than if I had signed it correctly," he says. And he's a hero in his country; in his hometown of Quilmes a museum and gymnasium are named in his honor.
De Vicenzo, 85, still plays, regularly shooting in the high 70s. "I lead a pretty boring life," he says. "I don't drink, smoke, gamble or dance." And he mostly grins when people bring up '68: "I got to see the world through golf. No one should feel sorry for me."