Ken Venturi dies: CBS golf analyst remembered for 1964 US Open win (+video)
Ken Venturi dies: After a long career both on and just above the golf course, Ken Venturi dies Friday in his native California.
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He turned pro after his close call in the 1956 Masters, and won his first PGA Tour at the St. Paul Open Invitational. Venturi won eight times over the next three years, including the Los Angeles Open and the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, before injuries started to affect his game after nearly winning the 1960 Masters.Skip to next paragraph
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He hurt his back in 1961 and badly injured his wrist in a car accident the next year. He missed the US Open three straight years until he narrowly qualified for Congressional. It turned out to be an epic final day for the Californian coping with broiling heat.
Venturi shot 66 in the third round, but was feeling weak during the break before the final round that afternoon. John Everett, a doctor and member at Congressional, checked on him and found a normal pulse but symptoms of dehydration.
"Dr. Everett told me ... I was lying next to my locker and he says, 'I suggest that you don't go out. It could be fatal,'" Venturi said in 2011 when he returned to Congressional for the U.S. Open. "I looked up at him and I said, 'Well, it's better than the way I've been living.' And I got off the floor, and I do not remember walking to the first tee. I don't remember the front nine until I started coming into it."
Venturi was so shaken, so weak, when it was over that his final act was to sign the scorecard. He couldn't even read the numbers. Joe Dey, the executive director of the USGA, looked over his shoulder, checked the scores and told him to sign it.
Sports Illustrated honored him as its "Sportsman of the Year" in 1964.
Venturi won three more times, his last win coming in 1966 at the Lucky International at Harding Park, where it all started.
He eventually developed Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in his hands and was forced to retire. That's when he moved into the booth as the lead analyst for CBS Sports, and his voice filled living rooms for the next 35 years until he retired in 2002.
"He was a deeply principled man with a dynamic presence. He just exuded class," Nantz said. "Through his competitive days and unequalled broadcasting career, Kenny became a human bridge connecting everyone from Sarazen, Nelson and Hogan to the greatest players of today's generation. Kenny faced many adversities in his life and always found a way to win."
Venturi was elected to the Hall of Fame through the Lifetime Achievement category. Nantz gave an emotional tribute that night, and then called Venturi's two sons to the stage to hold the trophy because "we need to put the crystal in the hands of the Venturi family."
"If there is some sense of fairness, it is that Ken was inducted into a Hall of Fame that he very much deserved to be in and, in fact, should have been in for many years," Nicklaus said. "While I know he was not able to be there in person for his induction, I am certain there was an overwhelming sense of pride and peace that embraced Ken. It was a dream of Ken Venturi's that became a reality before he sadly left us."
Venturi is survived his wife of 10 years, Kathleen, and his two sons. Matt Venturi said services were pending.