A win worth waiting for / Eduardo De Vicenzo proud of his father’s Hoylake glory
16 Jun,2023 Credit : www.theopen.com

A win worth waiting for / Eduardo De Vicenzo proud of his father’s Hoylake glory

In 10 previous appearances at The Open across almost two decades, the genial Argentinian had repeatedly come close to glory without getting his hands on the Claret Jug.

His eight top-sixes at the Championship included a runner-up placing in 1950 and an extraordinary five third-place finishes, the first coming on debut in 1948.

Now, 19 years later, De Vicenzo was finally set to taste Open glory at the age of 44 and both he and an appreciative crowd could savour the experience.

The broadest of smiles could be seen on De Vicenzo’s face as he marched down Royal Liverpool’s 18th fairway, safe in the knowledge that victory in The 96th Open was now a formality.

If the Champion-elect was a picture of delight and satisfaction, the same could be said of many in the crowd at Hoylake, who were thrilled to see one of golf’s most popular figures on the brink of a long-awaited triumph.

Two putts later, a huge roar erupted around the final green. With a total of 10-under, De Vicenzo had beaten Jack Nicklaus by two to claim the biggest victory of his storied career.

Upon receiving the trophy soon after, the Champion would go on to say he felt “like an Englishman”, such was the affection he received from the local spectators.

Speaking to The R&A ahead of The Open’s return to Royal Liverpool this July, De Vicenzo’s son, Eduardo, acknowledged the significance of the connection between the Champion and his adoring public.

"My father was very proud of his relationship with Britain and with The Open,” said Eduardo, who is known by his nickname Paio.

“He was very grateful to people in England.”

Paio was still a teenager when his father held off Nicklaus to claim victory at Royal Liverpool and made history in more ways than one.

“It was very special because he was the first Latin player to win a tournament and he was 44 years old,” said Paio.

That made De Vicenzo the second-oldest Champion Golfer behind Old Tom Morris, who was 46 when he won for the fourth and final time 100 years earlier.

"In that time we saw it on TV here in Argentina, in black and white,” Paio continued.

“It was a special transmission and we saw it almost immediately.

"My father always said that Argentina breathes football, but the golf fans were very proud about him.

“I was 18 years old. Most of all, he was my father and not the golf player.”

More than half a century on from Roberto De Vicenzo’s finest hour and six years on from his passing at the age of 94, he remains the only Argentine winner of The Open and one of only two players from his country, along with Angel Cabrera, to have tasted major success.

It is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that the mere mention of this great Champion’s name can still spark looks of wonderment.

"When I say my last name, of course all of the people say, 'oh, are you a relative of Roberto De Vicenzo? Are you familiar with him?' When I say I am his son, they open big their eyes and they have lots of questions,” said Paio with a smile.

"The young people, maybe they don't know too much about him, but it's something they heard. But older people are all amazed.

“Of course, it’s very special.”