Golf Legend Who Overcame Childhood Stutter to Cover Golf for 35 Years on CBS Dies at 82. Read Here About His Storybook U.S. Open Win in 1964

May 17, 2013  •  Post A Comment

A golfer who had a legendary career both on the links and as a golf analyst and commentator on CBS for 35 years, has died.

Ken Venturi, 82, "had been hospitalized for nearly two months for pneumonia and infections in his back and intestines, according to the San Francisco Chronicle and sfgate.com..

The story adds, "He survived prostate cancer in 2000-01 and quintuple heart-bypass surgery in 2006."

Venturi’s career is filled with the kind of stuff you find made up in movies.

For example, take this account of Venturi winning the U.S. Open in 1964, taken from the San Francisco Chronicle/sfgate article mentioned above:

"[O]n June 20, 1964, Mr. Venturi became an enduring symbol of perseverance in winning the U.S. Open under brutal conditions on the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

"He shot 66-70 on the final day — back then, the tournament concluded with 36 holes on Saturday — to win his only major championship.

"When his final putt dropped, sealing a four-shot victory, the magnitude of the moment almost stunned Mr. Venturi. He raised his arms, mumbled, ‘Oh my God, I’ve won the Open!’ and began crying when he saw tears streaming down the face of fellow competitor Raymond Floyd.

"Mr. Venturi didn’t just win the Open — he won it in unforgettable fashion."

The article continues, "It already was hot for the morning round, when Mr. Venturi surged into contention. His swift pace slowed as the heat took its toll. He started shaking on No. 17 and struggled to walk off the 18th green after completing his round.

"Dr. John Everett, a Congressional member, was summoned to the locker room to examine Mr. Venturi. Everett recommended he withdraw, fearing he might die if he tried to play another round. Everett walked all 18 holes with Venturi in the afternoon, regularly providing water and salt tablets.

"But the tale of this victory stretches beyond 100-degree heat and Mr. Venturi’s fight through dehydration and exhaustion. His career was in tatters at the time — he hadn’t won in nearly four years and, less than a month earlier, he was practically broke and on the brink of returning to the San Francisco Bay Area to find a real job.

" ‘It’s hard to express, but to come back borders on a miracle,’ Mr. Venturi said in 2011. ‘It’s storybook. It’s fictional.’ That it did happen resurrected his career and forever changed his life."

Venturi later joined the golf broadcasting team at CBS, where he delivered analysis and commentary for 35 years, retiring in 2002. One of the amazing things about that is that Venturi suffered from a severe stutter when he was growing up. It’s one of the reasons he took up the solitary sport of golf in the first place.

Though he could not attend the event, Venturi was inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame on May 6, 2013.

ken venturi.jpg

Ken Venturi

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