Bye, Vince

THEY inurned last week the ashes of Vince Villafuerte, my fellow rules man. He was a drinker, singer and poker player par excellence.

Vince was one of golf’s best rules men. He was as good as rules giants Taby “Insan” Tabaniag, Toots Aquino, Danny Crisologo and PAL Capt. Vic Lauron.

Vince it was who presided over our monthly rules meetings.

He would remind Jake P. Ayson of the meetings, imploring Jake to ensure my attendance as “Al’s absence would mean I’d go dry.”

When he was hit by Parkinson’s, our meetings would become scarce. And then there was none. Nada.

Vince kept his disease to himself.

But unknown to Vince, we knew of it.

“One night, he couldn’t insert his key to the knob of our hotel door,” said Atty. Domeng Duerme, for many years the head of the PAL Interclub Golf organizing committee. “That’s when I noticed something’s wrong with him.”

“He would repeatedly miss gimme putts,” said Jake.

I would see Vince make numerous practice strokes, only to dub an approach horribly.

His motor brain would rapidly deteriorate, making him grapple with mobility erratically.

With a soldier’s courage, he ignored pain like ignorable weeds.

Vince was still OK when he, Jake and I shared a hotel room in Jacksonville where, in 2000, we were delegates to a rules seminar at the world-famed Sawgrass.

Dog-tired after succumbing to jetlag following a virtual 24-hour flight from Manila to Florida via New York, we snored through the first day of the three-day seminar.

Still, to the surprise of seminar officials, Vince was among the topnotchers in the written tests, with Jake and I breathing down Vince’s neck. Not to brag but Jake and I were Vince’s dependable students from Day One.

We celebrated our high marks by killing Johnnie Walker Blue.

The three of us were together again in Huahin, Thailand, in 1988. For successive years from ‘80s to the early ‘90s, our trio was in San Diego, CA, watching on the side a legend in the making do his thing in the World Golf Juniors: Tiger Woods.

“Behold the future of golf,” Vince had said of Woods, raising his whisky glass.

Bye, Vince. You will be missed.


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