From Publishers Weekly
No one remembers the silver medalist, the second-place finisher, the runner-up. And no one remembers the first loser of the 1968 Masters Tournament. Sampson, a former touring golf pro and author of seven books, including the bestseller The Masters, hopes to change all that by retelling a story many people have forgotten and even more never knew. The '68 Masters was held under a cloud of war, racial tension and national mourning. The tournament began on April 11; eight days earlier, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, and he was buried in nearby Atlanta, Ga., two days before the tournament began at Augusta National. Anti-war sentiment pervaded the nation's conscience as Bob Goalby lined up for the first tee shot of the tournament. What followed was four days of competition and controversy. While the world watched and waited for one of the two favorites, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, to take the cup, three virtual unknowns-Roberto Devicenzo, Bob Goalby and Bert Yancy-staged their own three-way battle for the title. It was one of the tightest tournaments in the Masters' history, and its ending further solidified its place in the history books. When the final stroke was tallied, it was Devicenzo-Goalby, one-two. But in a scoring error on the 17th hole of the final day, it was discovered that Devicenzo's partner recorded a four instead of the three he actually shot, and more controversy ensued. A marvelous look at a compelling event, this book is a surefire pleasure for golf fans.
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The worst sports scandals usually involve cheating, but golf's biggest controversy occurred when the rules were followed too closely. The 1968 Masters Tournament ended in a tie between Roberto Devicenzo and Bob Goalby, but the latter was pronounced the winner when it was discovered that Devicenzo signed a scorecard showing his score to be one shot higher than it really was. Veteran golf writer Sampson reprises the tournament and looks closely at the incident and its aftermath. Would Arnold Palmer have been allowed to correct his score, in spite of the rule? Does the whole fiasco illustrate golf's bedrock sportsmanship, or does it show, yet again, the arrogance of the rich white guys who run the Masters? Sampson gives all sides a fair hearing, but most interestingly, he looks at how the scoring mess turned Devicenzo into a fan favorite and became a permanent monkey on Goalby's back. The attempt to place the controversy in the context of Vietnam and the sixties in general is overstated, but all in all, this is a fascinating slice of golf history. Bill Ott
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