Golfers of goodwill and unintentioned trick shots traveled 20, 30, 40 and 50 hours to reach Buenos Aires last week so they could see America's Lee Trevino crowned "Idiot of the Year," discover the real steak sandwich, learn that durable old Roberto De Vicenzo plays as well in his home town, as he does everywhere else, witness the emergence of a new star from Australia named David Graham, and satisfy themselves that Hitler could not have been alive in Argentina for very long because he would have been killed in a traffic accident.
The reason a lot of golfers were in Buenos Aires was the 18th renewal of that championship called the World Cup—excuse me, the Copa del Mundo—which hides itself in some part of the solar system every autumn for the express purpose of spreading friendship to all men through such tools as the Libya slice, the Rumanian shank and the Austrian blue darter.
As a tournament, the Copa del Mundo is never going to crowd its way into the Big Four any more than the Azalea Open is, but it is always going to be a lot more worthwhile than a number of events on the U.S. tour because it does bring folks together—two-man teams from 43 nations last week, in fact—and it stands as one of those increasingly rare things in life: a sports event where the money is irrelevant.
The tournament—the only one outside Rumania with a Rumanian in it and the only one where a Dane can make a hole in one—has been pampered, petted and expertly run by Fred Corcoran all these years (and financed by such members of U.S. business as American Express, Time Inc., Pan Am, NCR and ITT) and it has been staged in such exotic places as Singapore, Rome, Madrid, Paris and Tokyo. But it had never been as successful as it was in Buenos Aires last week in terms of spectator turnout (30,000 for four days), or so beautifully handled as it was by the Argentine Golf Association on the elegant Jockey Club premises. And scarcely, if ever, had the Copa del Mundo produced such startlingly good golf.
Between them, Bruce Devlin and David Graham played 32 shots under par, for a final combined score of 544, which would be good enough to win a couple of Kempers or Tucsons up north. As far as the money is concerned, the winning Australians took home $2,000 as a team, and De Vicenzo $1,000 for the low individual score. So much for the IRS.
As always, there was a great deal of fun involved in the proceedings, and Buenos Aires was a good place for that. First of all, it is a huge city of 8.4 million steak eaters and demolition derby drivers. It teems with sidewalk cafes, parks, ponds, monuments, ornate structures with balconies, dungeon-type discoth�ques, and shops to please one and all, particularly chic ladies, all booted and midied.
The city was alive with fun and frolic at all hours, enhanced by a labor strike in the middle of the week that freed everyone. Swarms of young ladies who could pass for Abbe Lane's baby sister were everywhere to escort Copa del Mundo participants into clubs where stags weren't permitted.
The golfers learned certain tricks, they thought. Not to sit too long in the clubs or they would use up their $600 honorariums. Not to buy the alligator bags because the bottom would fall out, and not to buy the suede coats because, as one said, "If you get it rained on, dogs'll chase you down the street." And not to trust the courtesy-car drivers. Three crashed the first day, and everybody stopped counting after that.
Copa del Mundo parties were thrown almost hourly, one of them in a villa only slightly larger than the palace at Versailles. And quieter hours could be spent looking at the jacaranda trees and at the shrapnel scars on some of the government buildings or at the balcony on the Pink House peering down on the Plaza de Mayo where Per�n used to address his shouting supporters.
For one and all, however, most of the week's fun was provided by Lee Trevino, the Copa del Mundo defending champion, who was teamed this time with Dave Stockton. In a curious effort to win the partnership prize for the U.S. again, Lee drank his share of beer and spoke his share of Texas Spanish—so much, in fact, that Stockton announced, "Our team has a language barrier."