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Bob Goalby, 1968: Scorecard controversy overshadows win

February 17, 2012 - 5:31 pm
Bob Goalby celebrates a shot during the 1968 Masters. He won the tournament after a scorecard controversy in which another player was credited with an extra stroke. The result was a win for Goalby.  File/Staff
File/Staff
Bob Goalby celebrates a shot during the 1968 Masters. He won the tournament after a scorecard controversy in which another player was credited with an extra stroke. The result was a win for Goalby.
By Bob Goalby |

I won the year of the controversy. I shot 66 in the final round, but you never heard about that. I made a 4-footer on 18 for par that I thought was to tie. I was walking to the clubhouse when Cary Middlecoff, who was doing television back then, came out of the tower and spotted me. He said, "Hey Bob, you won the tournament. Roberto (de Vicenzo) screwed up his card."

I walked into the TV room, and Roberto was in there talking, so I had to kneel on the ground. It was just confusing after it ended, but I won, and I was thankful that I did.

All I read about afterward was that I became champion on a scorekeeping error. Well, if Roberto had found the error and fixed it, we would have had a (18-hole) playoff the next day. He wouldn't have won on Sunday. I think that gets lost in the whole thing. People didn't want to see past that.

There were a lot of guys bunched in to start the final round, with 11 players three shots from the lead. I don't think I was ever two shots from the lead the whole tournament. I'd played well during the practice rounds, shot 66 and 67 with Sam Snead, Doug Ford and Gene Littler. I called my wife, Sarah, who was in Little Rock, Ark., with our two boys to visit her parents, and I told her I was feeling pretty good about myself.

I had a little gimmick working for me that week with my swing. I sort of rebuilt my swing that winter trying to get rid of this big hook I'd hit. So when I got to Augusta, I tried to make sure the club went inside to square to inside again to try and cut the ball and try not to use too much hands.

I drove the ball well and got the ball in position on those greens. That's what you need to be successful there -- you've got to know where to put the ball. I birdied 13 and 14, but 15 was the turning point.

I hit a 3-iron over the water on 15 to 8 feet and made that for eagle, which tied me with Roberto. After I hit the approach, you could hear this roar coming from 17, and I knew that Roberto had birdied. So it was on me to make.

My caddie's name was Marble Eye, because he only had one eye. He came in from Atlanta, and that was the first time I had met him. No stories about him, other than I gave him a couple of thousand dollars after I won. I saw him the next week at a tournament in Florida, and he had these shiny new green alligator shoes. I said let's go, and he told me he was through caddieing.

I was planning on catching a plane that Sunday night because that was very common back then, so I had my clothes in my car. After I won, I showered and changed for the dinner. It's not like I thought I was going to win.

Roberto and I are still great friends. We've played together at the Legends senior tourn-ament for years. And we just cut a commercial for Cobra golf in Florida. It's a little bit of slapstick about us in 1968.

That type of thing happened all the time with the scorecards. Right now you have scorer's tents behind the 18th at every tournament. It's just a little spot where they let players cool off and sign their cards. Gary Player once said to me that we spend eight to 10 hours on our games, the least we can do is spend a minute-and-a-half to check our cards.

I've got no ill feelings toward anybody. But I did get 500 of the worst letters you've ever seen after that win.

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