Argentina's Roberto De Vicenzo was poised to battle Bob Goalby in an 18-hole playoff in 1968 when he got the sad news that he had signed an incorrect scorecard.
De Vicenzo, who had won the British Open the year before, was celebrating his 45th birthday that Sunday at Augusta. The galleries had serenaded him with Happy Birthday as he made his way around the course.
What could have been a joyous occasion quickly turned sour.
"I play golf all over the world for 30 years, and now all I can think of is what a stupid I am to be wrong in this wonderful tournament," De Vicenzo said afterward. "Never have I ever done such a thing."
Goalby made two birdies and an eagle on Nos. 13-15 to shoot 66 and finish at 11-under 277.
De Vicenzo made birdies at Nos. 15 and 17 before a bogey on the 18th left him with an apparent 65 and 11-under total.
While De Vicenzo was waiting for Goalby to finish, playing partner Tommy Aaron noticed De Vicenzo's scorecard total was 66. He pointed out the error to a Masters official, and a meeting was held in Bobby Jones' cottage off the 10th tee.
Aaron had marked De Vicenzo for 4 instead of 3 on the 17th hole.
Under the rules of golf, a player is responsible for the score on each hole of his card. Once a player has signed for his score, it must stand.
"It's a shame," Aaron said later. "He should've checked his scorecard."
Less than 30 minutes after Goalby had finished, the verdict came back in a statement from Hord Hardin, the president of the U.S. Golf Association and chairman of the Masters rules committee:
"Under the rules of golf, he (De Vicenzo) will be charged with a 66, which does not leave him in a tie with Bob Goalby, who is 11 under par. He is second, 10 under par."
If De Vicenzo had signed for a score that was lower than what he had made, the penalty would have been disqualification. De Vicenzo had to settle for second place and the silver medal that goes to the runner-up.
The Masters instituted new procedures for players to check their cards in privacy.
"The best thing is we now have a little building to go into," Goalby said. "At the time, all we had was a little picnic table where press could get to you early. Now they can't do that."