Because the 2016 Rio Summer season Video games approached and golfing was once designated an Olympic game for the primary time since 1904, the person referred to as the daddy of the sport in Brazil was once celebrated anew.
Brazil had gained 5 Global Cup football championships and produced global street racing and tennis champions, however golfing had in large part remained a distinct segment game within the nation, reserved for rich businessmen and ex-patriots.
But if the Reserva Marapendi Golfing Direction was once constructed for the Olympics in western Rio, later to be transformed right into a public path within the hope that it would propel Brazilian golfing towards a shiny long run, the exploits of Mario Gonzalez, who died Monday in Rio at 96, had been remembered and retold.
Gonzalez gained the Brazil Open 8 instances and was once in rivalry for the British Open championship in 1948 whilst an novice. In 1941, at 19, he had taken on Bobby Jones — the winner of golfing’s authentic Grand Slam (the USA and British opens and two novice tournaments) in 1930 and the co-founder of Augusta Nationwide, house of the Masters, in 1934 — and performed him to a attract an exhibition fit.
And he bested Billy Casper, winner of the 1959 United States Open, in a head-to-head, made-for-TV tournament in 1961.
However Gonzalez had handed up probabilities to thrive at the PGA and Eu excursions. He concentrated at the Brazilian championships and was once content material to stay the top professional on the Gávea Golfing and Nation Membership in Rio, the place he taught from 1949 to 1984. He additionally mentioned he most well-liked to dedicate time to his circle of relatives, together with his son, Jaime, who went directly to play at the Eu excursion and in brief the PGA Excursion.
“If he had performed extra at the PGA Excursion, I’m positive he can be within the Corridor of Popularity,” Roberto De Vicenzo of Argentina, Latin The us’s main golfer of the 1940s and ′50s and winner of the 1967 British Open, informed Golfing.com in August 2016.
Alexandre Rocha, a number one Brazilian participant who has gave the impression at the PGA and Eu Excursions, referred to as Gonzalez “a legend.”
“Mario is the start,” he mentioned in a Golfing Channel interview main as much as the 2016 Video games. “With out him I’m now not right here.”
As soon as, Rocha mentioned, in a nine-hole spherical with him, Gonzalez placed on “probably the most implausible show of ball stroking I’ve ever noticed.”
Mario Gonzalez was once born on Nov. 11, 1922, in Sao Paulo, the place his father, José, designed golfing lessons and was once an trainer. Mario weighed simplest 125 kilos or in order a tender guy however hit tough drives.
After he gained the Argentine Open in 1940, Brazil’s president subsidized him on a four-month American excursion. Gonzalez performed within the 1941 United States Open in Forth Value, lacking the reduce, however held Jones to a attract 18-hole play at East Lake, Jones’s house path close to Atlanta. After that exhibition, Jones referred to as him “a really perfect younger participant.”
Gonzalez gained the Grand Problem Cup at Royal St. George’s in England in Would possibly 1948, then competed that summer season as an novice within the British Open at Muirfield in Scotland.
Within the 3rd spherical, on a chilly, wet Saturday, he shot a 70, the bottom spherical of the day, striking him searching for victory. However his ultimate spherical of 75 dropped him to 11th position for the match, gained for the 3rd time by way of Henry Cotton of Britain. However Gonzalez completed as one in every of two low amateurs within the Open, sharing that difference with an American, Capt. Ed Kingsley, who was once stationed in Germany.
“When he didn’t win, I used to be shocked,” the five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson of Australia as soon as recalled. “The deficient man informed me he was once shivering the entire time as a result of he wasn’t familiar with the chilly.”
Gonzalez performed in two United States Opens and two Masters and gained the Argentine Open two times, the second one time in 1953, when De Vicenzo was once the runner-up.
Jaime Gonzalez gained 4 Brazilian novice titles, performed at the PGA and Eu excursions and tutored Rocha on the São Fernando Golfing Membership.
Mario Gonzalez, who became professional in 1949, was once within the global sports activities highlight in 1961, when he performed at Gávea within the first installment of “Shell’s Superb Global of Golfing.” It changed into an annual the world over televised program that includes fits at lessons world wide through which a outstanding American golfer confronted a best international professional.
Gonzalez shot a 68 for a three-stroke victory over Casper and was once hoisted by way of the gang on its shoulders.
As Rocha as soon as put it: “Casper wins the USA Open, he is going to Brazil. ‘Who’s Mario?’ Mario simply whips him.”
Gonzalez’s demise was once introduced by way of the PGA Excursion Latino Americano, which mentioned he had most cancers.
Along with his son Jaime, Gonzalez’s survivors come with his spouse, Pilar, and his sons Rafael and Mario. Each Jaime and Rafael are some of the main educating professionals in Brazil.
The circle of relatives patriarch endured to show golfing after his taking part in profession ended.
“No regrets,” Gonzalez informed Golfing.com, reflecting on his failure to completely check himself on international excursions. “I imagine myself a completely achieved individual. I used to be proud then, and I’m proud nowadays.”