Facing success and catastrophe and treating those twin imposters the same inspired British golf writer Peter Dobereiner to use the Rudyard Kipling quote when giving De Vicenzo his due. In Dobereiner’s words, “By that standard, De Vicenzo is a giant of a man because he faced the greatest triumph and the most devastating disaster which the game of golf can provide.” The United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America agreed, presenting De Vicenzo with the Bob Jones and William Richardson Awards, respectively, in 1970.
All the trophies he captured didn’t mean as much to De Vicenzo as the friends he made traveling the globe. He won national opens in Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Holland, France, Germany, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela and Argentina, a country he represented 17 times in the World Cup. Essayist Jack Whitaker once said that if golf were war, Roberto would have conquered more countries than Alexander the Great. But golf was not war to De Vicenzo. And that is what made him so loved.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 14, 1923, De Vicenzo learned the game as a caddy’s assistant. He turned professional at age 15 and won his first of nine Argentine Open titles six years later. Three-time Open Championship winner Henry Cotton once said there were very few professionals in the business who would not take the play through the green of Argentine golfing master Roberto De Vicenzo, and his game never left him. At 51 he won the PGA Seniors’ Championship and in 1980, at age 57, the inaugural U.S. Senior Open.