Hate Mail Flooded In After Golfer's Greatest Moment

Fans considered Bob Goalby's Masters tainted
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2022 5:45 PM CST
Hate Mail Flooded In After Golfer's Biggest Moment
Bob Goalby talks to Jay Haas, left, during the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament in 2003 in Indian Wells, Calif. Goalby was Haas' uncle.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Bob Goalby, who helped establish the modern PGA Tour and senior tour but was punished by fans for winning a Masters after another golfer's scorecard error, has died. He was 92 and died Thursday in his hometown of Belleville, Illinois, Golf Digest reports. Goalby's greatest moment in golf, the 1968 Masters victory, came at a price. Many fans, sometimes misunderstanding what happened, considered his championship tainted. Goalby did not, though he was bitter at his treatment, per the New York Times, saying he never received the credit he deserved. Roberto De Vicenzo, the golfer who made the mistake, blamed only himself.

De Vicenzo played the final round at Augusta that day with Tommy Aaron, who wrote a wrong score down for him on the 17th hole. Angered by his play on the hole, De Vicenzo signed the scorecard quickly. The mistake, discovered minutes later, lifted his final score to 66 when Masters officials decided the rules prohibited a correction. "What a stupid I am," De Vincenzo said. That put him at 278 for the tournament. Moments later, Goalby finished with an eagle and a 277. Lost on many was the fact that even without the scorecard error, De Vincenzo wouldn't have won outright; he and Goalby would have had a playoff the next day.

"I received hate mail like you wouldn't believe," Goalby said in 2018. "The letters piled up, and every one of them hurt." He kept the hate mail, though he said he wasn't sure why—"maybe to one day explain to people what the experience was like." Goalby and De Vicenzo stayed friends, per the Washington Post. Goalby won 11 PGA Tour titles. He once shot eight consecutive birdies, a tour record. He beat Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. But he was remembered and blamed for a "damn clerical mistake" that wasn't his doing. "I've always felt like a victim," Goalby once said. But in his home office, he kept a letter from the great Bobby Jones that read: "I ask you to always remember that you won the tournament under the rules of golf and by superlative play." (More obituary stories.)

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