Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Mario Camicia ()
Mario Camicia ()

Mario Camicia, the man regarded by many as 'Mr Golf' in Italy, has died following a brave battle with illness. He was 70.

The Tournament Director of the Italian Open for many years until 1992, Camicia was also Italy’s first recognised golf commentator on television and gave his authoritative views on the game to viewers for 20 years, helping grow not only the understanding of the game in his home country, but also the interest.

His first commentating role in 1981 was with Mediaset and then for the satellite TV Telepiu, now recognised as Sky Italia.

His passion for golf came through his commentary and his emotive words when Costantino Rocca holed his famous putt from the Valley of Sin on the 18th green at St Andrews in 1995 to force a play-off with John Daly for The Open Championship, have been replayed on numerous Italian websites since his passing.

Away from commentary, he was also a co-founder of the magazine ‘Golf Italiano’ which he left in the 1980s. He was also involved with ‘il Grande Golf’ and ‘Golf e Turismo’ where he was still Editorial Director. In his time he also collaborated with ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ and ‘il Giornale’ and was a consultant for ‘Golf Style.’

Leading the tributes to Camicia’s influence was European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady who knew the Italian during the bulk of his working life in the game.

“Mario epitomised everything that was special about Italian golf,” said O’Grady. “He was a fervent supporter, a tireless administrator and Tournament Director of the Italian Open, and for many years a great and passionate television commentator who contributed so immensely to the growth  not only of all levels of Italian golfers but the whole European Tour.

“He, and his individual welcome to Italy, will be sadly missed by all of us and so very many of our Members. He was, quite simply, unique.”

Rocca’s prominence in the 1990’s, which included three Ryder Cup appearances, thrilled Camicia greatly as did the emergence in recent years of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari – who followed Rocca into The Ryder Cup arena in 2010 – and Matteo Manassero, who was The Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year on The European Tour in the same season.

Rocca himself said: “Today I lost a great friend and Italian golf lost a great person that gave a lot to this sport. But his voice will always be in our hearts. Ciao Mario.”

Edoardo Molinari said: “Mario was one of the most influential people in golf in Italy. When I watched golf on TV as a young kid he was the only commentator and I can still remember vividly his voice, his great sense of humour and his ability to keep you glued to the screen.

“I also remember the enthusiasm he showed when both Francesco and I made The Ryder Cup team – when I met him in Crans the day after Monty had announced the team, he hugged me like I was one of his own kids and he was the happiest man you can ever imagine.”

Matteo Manassero said: “Mario had a passion for golf that was clear to everybody that knew him, both personally and through his work on television. He played an important role in bringing golf into our homes and helping the game grow here in Italy. My own introduction to golf was watching it on television at two years old and listening to Mario's voice. It was a privilege for me to work with him on Tour and also when I joined him in the studio. Our sport will miss him and his spirit will surely live on here in Italy and throughout The European Tour.”

Franco Chimenti, President of the Italian Golf Federation, said: “He was the voice of Italian golf. His commentaries on Sky gave a significant contribution to the knowledge of our sport, beyond the circle of players and practitioners. Golf has lost a great supporter and we have lost a great friend. For me, personally, this represents an irrepressible pain.”

Donato Di Ponziano, President of Organising Committee of The Italian Open, said: “All Italian golf owes much to this charismatic man. With his voice, he accompanied many great moments that Sky Italia dedicated to golf. He was also the organiser of numerous editions of the Italian Open, and very few people had the same emotional involvement with the tournament as he did.

“Mario was, and will forever be, an important source of inspiration to our work. Together with Franco Chimenti, the Italian Golf Federation, and all Italian golfers, we turn to Mario’s family right now and give them an affectionate hug from the depths of our hearts.”

Mario Camicia’s funeral will be held on Thursday December 29 at 11am in Santa Maria delle Grazie, Corso Magenta, Milano. He is survived by his wife Silvia and his children Francesca (23) and Michele (16).

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