For years Romero, 52 and a native of Argentina, has yearned to play golf in the United States. He became a European Tour veteran, actually winning eight times on that circuit. But always, since he was a young man in his native country, he dreamed of coming to the U.S.
Romero won a Champions Tour event last week. In fact, it was major ' the JELD-WEN Tradition. So there is no more dreaming, no more wondering if he would ever make it. For 2007 at least, Romero is a Champions Tour member.
He tried to get to the U.S. in 1984, shortly after he turned professional, but frankly, he just didnt have the skills. He went to Europe and learned his craft, actually won six times, and returned to America in 1995 after finishing second in the 94 Q-school. But his father died that year, and my head ' it was not so good, he said. It was a disaster.
So, it was back to Europe, and two more victories. Eduardo would still play in America occasionally on sponsors exemptions, and in fact finished second once at The International. But he could never get over the hump of achieving PGA TOUR membership again. And, in fact, he has twice tried the Champions Tour qualifier, but he hasnt made it either time.
I love playing here, he said simply. I want to live here the rest of my life.
First, going to the locker, I see old friends, he said. I see the difference between the other tours, you know. You see everybody laugh.
Lee Trevino was the first to tell me that it is more enjoyable than the other tours, because everybody is talking about the past life. Vicente Fernandez tell me this is a fantastic tour. They tell me, its nothing compared to regular tour. Im very comfortable, and I enjoy it so much.
And Romero comes in for his share of barbs when he goes into the U.S. tours locker rooms. Everybody tell me, What are you doing here? You have to go back on the other side of the ocean! They are just kidding, of course.
Of course. Romero has a nickname, given him when he was a youngster ' El Gato, meaning, the cat. The nickname, he says, was penned on him by his grandmother because of the way he would climb trees, much like a cat. My grandmother say, hes off in the trees all day. Everyday in the trees. So she call me, The Cat.
But The Cat almost became something else when Romero went to France to play in the Trophee Lancome. There, El Gato sounds like the word meaning cake. Confused Frenchmen wondered why this grown man would be called, The Cake.
El Gato actually caddied once for Roberto de Vincenzo, the most famous Argentinean golfer of all time. Eduardos father was a club pro in Argentina, as a matter of fact. And Romero still speaks in reverent tones when he speaks of De Vincenzo.
Hes such a good player, a good man, said Eduardo. Roberto is 84 now, but he is unbelievable. He is my idol, still is to this day.
Romero qualified for the JELD-WEN field when he finished second in the British Senior Open, losing a playoff to Loren Roberts. He won the JELD-WEN in a playoff also, toppling Lonnie Nielsen.
'He's got it all, said an admiring Nielsen, and he's got no fear. He shoots at every pin, he doesn't care if there's water next to it.'
And at least, El Gato has arrived for good. The money is not important for me, he said, because I have a lot of money to live the rest of my life. Its all about the golf.
I know that you never know what happens when you are talking about golf. There are a lot of good players over here. I know there are good players over here.
And at last, after all the years of trying to get to America, he has made it in a very big way.
'Finally, the dream has come true,' he said.
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