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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 244
I T WAS the first thing I went to upon hearing the sad news that Roberto de Vicenzo had died. There it was in the top drawer of my office desk, the little green autograph book I treasured as a golf-mad youngster. And inside, opposite those of Neil Coles and Billy Casper, sits the great Argentine’s signature. It has been there for 47 years now. At the age of nine, going on ten, I attended my first Open Championship at St. Andrews in 1970. And armed with my then almost-pristine book, I went to work as a fully-fledged autograph hunter. Today, there are many past winners of golf’s oldest major on those pages - Gene Sarazen, Henry Cotton, Tom Weiskopf, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino (five times), Kel Nagle, Arnold Palmer, Tony Jacklin, Bob Charles, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Gary Player, Sam Snead and Fred Daly - but, by a distance, my favourite encounter remains my brief meeting with Roberto. I can see him now, a tall and distinguished figure wearing a Scottish-style ‘bunnet' (cap), marching along the path to the right of the first fairway on the Old Course. My Dad told me who he was and ushered me forward, book and pen outstretched. “Excuse me, could I have your autograph please?” Roberto stopped and looked down at the diminutive figure in front of him. Then he smiled. “You know my name?” he asked, the smile broadening. “Roberto.” He laughed, patted my cheeks with both hands and signed his name. “Practice hard,” he said as he went on his way. All of which probably took less than 30 seconds of his no doubt valuable time. But what sticks in the memory is that he didn’t simply take the book and silently scribble something unintelligible. No. This gentle giant – I remember being a little intimidated by his size – was good enough and kind enough to engage with this child, to talk with him, to create a lifelong memory. obituary ROBERTO DE VICENZO (14 April 1923 — 1 June 2017) ANOTHER GREAT PASSES WORDS BY JOHN HUGGAN
GA Express 243
GA Express 245