Dublin, OH — Emiliano Grillo knew a seal of approval from his Argentinean compatriot Roberto de Vicenzo went a long way in the world of golf, so when this occurred for the now third year PGA TOUR member, it validated everything.
“It made me kind of relieved that I could do what he did on the PGA TOUR,” Grillo said. “Somebody like him that knows or knew golf so well, it’s very meaningful.”
Thursday it was announced that de Vicenzo passed away at the age of 94, weeks after suffering a fall in his Argentina home.
“It’s very unfortunate,” said Grillo. “My caddie told me when we started that he heard a rumor about it. You know, I was kind of lucky enough to see him when he was alive. It’s a shame really.”
De Vicenzo who won over 200 events worldwide in his career but his biggest victory occurred in the 1967 Open Championship in which he bested Jack Nicklaus by two strokes. In doing so, de Vicenzo became the first South American to win The Open.
Despite this loss, Nicklaus remained friends with de Vicenzo, even naming him as the Memorial Tournament honoree in 1986. De Vicenzo made his only Memorial Tournament appearance that year and missed the cut.
“When somebody passes it’s a sad thing,” Nicklaus said. “Roberto de Vicenzo was not only a great golfer but he was a great friend. He was a nice man, nice player. He was a strong, strong, good player. He just played by feel. He was a nice man and you always miss nice guys.”
De Vicenzo is best known though for signing an incorrect scorecard at the 1968 Masters giving himself a par on the 17th hole instead of the birdie he rightfully earned. The error stood which allowed Bob Goalby to win the event.
Still his legacy in Argentina will remain forever as he was very highly thought of and considered there by all of his peers.
“Everyone remembers him for a mistake, not for what he did on The Open when he won,” said Grillo. “He marked the way for most of the guys, marked the way for me. He opened the door for Europe and over here. He was one of the icons.”
His legacy continues with players such as Grillo and Fabian Gomez, the two Argentinians in the Memorial Tournament field this week. His efforts and influence allowed for Grillo to again look back at getting to meet an idol.
“Right after we met, he said some really nice things to me,” Grillo said. “I was playing well in the Argentina Open, I was leading after two days. He was writing a column for this big newspaper in Argentina and wrote some very nice things about me. It’s one of the things that I’ll cherish forever.”
It is statements such as these that explain what de Vicenzo meant and will continue to mean for everyone in Argentina.
“He was a god in Argentina, Roberto was Mr. Golf in Argentina, no question about that,” said Nicklaus.
Roberto Di Vincenzo, a true gentleman whose influence popularized golf not only at home but around world too. Descansa en Paz mi amigo. RIP pic.twitter.com/55rbv9WFHE
— Gary Player (@garyplayer) June 1, 2017
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) June 1, 2017
Saddened to hear of the loss of one of our Hall of Fame Members, Roberto De Vicenzo. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. pic.twitter.com/xJjTRxRCsE
— Golf Hall of Fame (@GolfHallofFame) June 1, 2017