Kenneth Venturi (1931-2013)
Ken Venturi (1931-2013)
By Torleif Sorenson on 5/17/13
Ken Venturi, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame only last week, passed away on Friday afternoon, aged 82. Venturi's son, Matt, telephoned the San Francisco Chronicle with the news. Venturi had undergone bypass surgery in 2006, had encountered further cardiac problems in 2011, and was most recently hospitalized with an infection.

While best-known in recent years as the lead golf analyst for CBS Sports, Venturi's golf résumé prior to his broadcast career was also quite distinguished:
  • He won the 1951 and 1956 California State Amateur Championships, which occurred before and after his honorable service in the United States Army;

  • Venturi shot a wind-blown final-round 80 to just miss becoming the first amateur to win the Masters Tournament in 1958. Venturi also finished the 1960 Masters as runner-up to Arnold Palmer (again).

  • Venturi wrote his own way into golf's history books with a memorable 1964 U.S. Open Championship victory, in which Venturi played the final 36 punishing holes in crippling, 100°+ heat at Congressional, a feat that earned him "Sportsman of the Year" and "PGA Player of the Year" honors.

    Venturi's competitive career came to a halt as a result of lingering injuries from an automobile crash in 1961.

  • He will also be remembered for his very credible turn playing himself in the film Tin Cup, including the hilarious scene where he criticizes Kevin Costner's character for refusing to lay up at the long par-5 18th.
Only last week, on May 6, Venturi was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, via the Lifetime Achievement Category. Almost certainly, CBS Sports will take time during their coverage this weekend of the Byron Nelson Championship in Dallas to remember their dear, departed friend. There will be no need to manufacture any dramatic reminiscences of Venturi; the emotions and recollections will likely be deeply felt and easily expressed. It is no cliché to say that Venturi will be dearly missed.

As I wrote last October, my opinion is that the World Golf Hall of Fame, which has no broadcast announcing or golf writing category a la the prestigious Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, must now create that award — and name it in grateful remembrance of this fine gentleman.

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Image via PGA Tour

[ comments ]
joe jones says:
Tor. I can't think of anything better than naming the award for Venturi.Thank you for the suggestion. Because of my age, and the fact that I both watched him during his active career and admired him during his 28 years of broadcasting the Masters I feel a kinship with Kenny. The fact that Pat Summerall passed away just before him was a shame but in retrospect Pat will probably be waiting for him at the golden gate. It might be ironic that Ken and Byron Nelson, two of the most admired people in golf are in the news this week.I think it would be fitting if all Oob members petition The World Golf Hall Of Fame to create the award.
Matt F says:
RIP Mr Venturi or DILLIGAF, as he was also known to others.
[ post comment ]
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