Ken Venturi: Champion golfer and respected broadcaster

 

The golfer Ken Venturi, who died in hospital in Rancho Mirage, California on 10 May at the age of 82, was a former US Open champion who went on to become an admired broadcaster. He won 14 times on the PGA Tour and had ben inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame only 11 days ago.

The highlight of his playing career came in the 1964 US Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, where he overcame 100-degree temperatures and severe dehydration on a final day of 36 holes to win his only major championship, by four strokes from Tommy Jacobs. Two behind going into Saturday's final round on the last US Open to be played over three days, Venturi was advised by doctors to withdraw or risk heat stroke. Instead he shot 70 to Jacobs' 76 for victory

He was forced to retire from competitive golf because of carpal tunnel syndrome in 1967. The following year, he joined CBS television as an analyst and enjoyed a lengthy career as one of the most insightful and respected figures in the game.

"He played on the Ryder Cup in 1965, he captained the US Presidents Cup in 2000," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said last October after Venturi was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2013.

"But to fans around the United States and around the world, he was the conduit of what PGA Tour-level golf was to those fans for an incredible 35-year broadcast career which spanned many, many careers on the PGA Tour. Ken Venturi was a fixture to the game of golf for fans everywhere in terms of his ability to analyse the game and excite fans about the play they were watching."

Venturi was a San Francisco native who first came to attention at the age of 24 when he finished second in the US Masters while still an amateur. He described his recent induction into the Hall of Fame as "just an honour. The greatest reward in life is to be remembered and I thank the World Golf Hall of Fame for remembering me.

"I was taught by Byron Nelson and I asked him one time, 'How could I ever repay you for all you've done for me?' He said, 'Ken, be good to the game and give back.' And that's what I've tried to do because I've said many times, the world will never remember you for what you take from it, but only what you leave behind."

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