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Venturi Named to Hall of Fame Class of 2013
The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum will enshrine Ken Venturi as part of its class of 2013. The 1964 U.S. Open champion and long-time television broadcaster was selected through the Lifetime Achievement Category.
Venturi will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at its Induction Ceremony on Monday, May 6, 2013, at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. The Ceremony will once again kick off the Players Championship week.
The announcement was made at Pebble Beach Golf Links by PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. Pebble Beach is a fitting place for Venturi, who grew up playing golf in Northern California and will serve as the Honoree of this week's Frys.com Open at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.
"Ken Venturi's induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame is absolutely fitting, even more so because he enters under the auspices of the Lifetime Achievement Category," Finchem said. "Ken's career certainly epitomizes a lifetime of achievement, from his many wins on the golf course, including his courageous victory in the 1964 U.S. Open, to his captaincy of the U.S. Presidents Cup Team to his nearly four-decade-long career as the voice of CBS' golf coverage, the longest in golf history. Congratulations to Ken on this well-deserved honor."
Venturi forged a great career both on the course and in the broadcast booth. As a player, Venturi won 14 times on the PGA Tour. He made his most indelible mark in the 1964 U.S. Open, where he overcame 100-degree temperatures at Congressional Country Club and severe dehydration to win his only major championship.
"Ken Venturi's victory in the 1964 U.S. Open remains one of the greatest moments in the championship's 112-year history," said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. "His ability to overcome extremely difficult conditions at Congressional personifies the perseverance, determination and execution required to be a U.S. Open champion."
Carpel tunnel syndrome forced him out of competitive golf after 13 other victories on the PGA Tour and a Ryder Cup appearance on the winning U.S. Team in 1965.
In 1968 Venturi joined the CBS television team and began a 35-year career that saw him become one of the most respected voices in the game. In 2000, he received the PGA of America Lifetime Achievement in Journalism award. That same year, he captained the U.S. Team to victory in the Presidents Cup competition.
"The greatest reward in life is to be remembered, and I thank the World Golf Hall of Fame for remembering me," Venturi said. "It's the dream of a lifetime." (See below for Venturi's full interview at the announcement.)
Venturi joins Fred Couples, who was elected through the PGA Tour Ballot, in the Class of 2013. The Hall of Fame will round out the class, including the International Ballot, in the coming months.
"Ken is most deserving of this honor," said Hall of Fame Chief Operating Officer Jack Peter. "His success on the course and signature style on television has endeared him to fans for decades. We look forward to showcasing his wonderful career in the Museum and welcoming him into the Hall of Fame in May."
The above report is courtesy of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Tickets and travel packages to the 2013 Induction Ceremony will be available November 1, 2012. For more information, visit www.WorldGolfHallofFame.org.
After the announcement, Venturi and Finchem met with the media for the following Q&A. Here's what they had to say.
Q. Congratulations Kenny, it's well deserved and overdue as the Commissioner mentioned. I would like to ask you a couple of things, if you could recall some of your, the fondest memories maybe from your years at CBS and with all the guys that you worked with there and the window that you had into golf during that time period.
KEN VENTURI: Well, my golfing career only lasted 10 and a half years because I lost the use of my hands. And Frank Chirkinian, who hired me with CBS, and having 35 years that I worked with some of the best there is, but I guess that one night at the Waldorf Astoria I was introduced by Jack Whitaker and he summed up my life pretty good, he said, when talking about my career of playing and then getting into broadcasting, he said, fate has a way of bending the twig and fashioning a man to his better instincts. And if one thing had been different, that would have been different, what would have been. And I said that if I I wouldn't trade being anybody in the whole word. The one I think about is, I wonder what I could have done if I hadn't lost the use of my hands.
Q. I know that the story of the '64 U.S. Open has been told again and again and again, and everybody, by this point every golf fan knows the conditions in which you faced. And I'm wondering, do you, first of all, how difficult would it be for a Major Championship to have 36 holes on the final day? I'm just wondering would that be in any way possible. And just how close were you to not being able to finish that weekend?
KEN VENTURI: Well, I would say this, is that it was the last year they played 36 holes. And I've been introduced many times and they told me that they're changing to 18 holes a day because of what happened to me. And I said, don't use me, because you know how much money you're going to make on Sunday? (Laughter.)
And I don't remember him saying, Doctor Everett, but when I came in off the 18th hole in the morning, I laid down next to my locker and Doctor Everett said, I recommend you don't go out, because it could be fatal. And I don't make excuses, my father always told me excuses are the crutches for the untalented. But I was in an automobile accident, I was a passenger, and I was out pretty much of commission for two years. And I was in this position and he recommended I didn't go out. And he said, I don't remember, I looked up at him and I said, it would be better than the way I've been living.
And I got up and I don't remember going to the first tee. But I get introduced and people get carried away about my Open victory and I said, thank you very much for that. But my Open victory, I said, no disrespect, was best described by Joey Lewis, a late comedian, when I walked in after the U.S. Open to Toot Shor's restaurant in New York, I bumped into Frank Sinatra, Toots Shor and Joey Lewis and Joey came over to me and he always called me Vinny he said, Vinny, I got to tell you something. I saw you win the U.S. Open. I saw you stagger and fall and pass out and couldn't make it off the green. I got to tell you, from the bottom of my heart, it's the greatest act I ever saw in my life. (Laughter.) And now I can give my speech. (Laughter.)
But that's, I'll never forget that. And then I'll never, I went to Broadway and went to Hello Dolly, Carol Channing was doing it, never met her, never knew her. And I sat near the rope where she came out on the stage and at the end of the act she sang Hello Dolly, and she pointed down at me and said, and Kenny, it's so nice to have you back where you belong. And on Broadway, after the show, I got a standing ovation on Broadway. And I didn't meet Carol Channing until we went to the desert. But those things I'll always treasure and, you know, fate does have a way of bending the twig.
Q. As a follow up, Tim, are you still on the line?
TIM FINCHEM: I am.
Q. Tim, you said you were there that weekend. Is the heat or conditions in any way exaggerated? What's your best memory of just how tough it was that day on the players?
TIM FINCHEM: I was watching it on television.
Q. Oh, okay.
KEN VENTURI: He didn't lose any weight either.
TIM FINCHEM: But I can tell you this: I lived in Washington later on for 10 years. And Washington was built on a swamp. And in the middle of the summer, the heat is as intense as the deepest south part of the country that we have. I mean, it's incredible. And so after I lived there for few years, when I watched Kenny on CBS, I think about, you know, I used to, I saw him do it, but now having lived here, I know how bad it's, because it was what, 104 that day?
KEN VENTURI: It came to 109 and the humidity was in the 90s. And to best describe it, I had a scale next to my locker and I got on it in the morning when I was there and then when I got dressed and ready to leave, I got on the scale again and that day I lost eight pounds.
Q. That's a tough way to have to lose it. Tim, talk about, barring rain outs, where time has to be made up on the weekend and everything, 36 holes in a major championship or a significant tournament like the Players and everything, how, just how tough would that be on guys now, given the pressure and the attention and the media coverage that now go to these tournaments?
TIM FINCHEM: Well I think you can see it some in Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup competition, where you see matches in the afternoon. You can just see it on the players faces. When you're out there with the in between warm up for nine, 10 hours, 11 hours, playing golf, it's a stamina question. And then you add to it - now you won't see that heat in those matches because they're played in the fall. But you play in that kind of heat, I mean when we play today in the summer, if we're playing in Dallas in May or Memphis in June, and you see those guys soaking wet and they're playing 18 holes, they're fatigued after 18 holes. And you double that up, I mean, any player is going to feel it. And to get to 104, 109 index, I mean that's just crazy. We wouldn't be, we wouldn't think about playing 36 in a place where the weather is that challenging.
Q. Do you think that Ken's accomplishment goes up there with Hogan coming back from the car accident to win a U.S. Open?
TIM FINCHEM: Well it's a totally different thing, but I think that looking at that and looking at how he had to stop and then actually winning the golf tournament, it's just an incredible thing. And when he tells his stories about people, it was just, if you watched it, it was such a compelling thing in sports to see. I mean, think about Michael Jordan playing in the finals, he had the flu. Well he had the flu, but he's now playing in an air conditioned arena. So I think that it's right up there among those kind of stories in the history of sport.
KEN VENTURI: I'll say one thing about this, about the difference of 18 and 36 holes. I was very lucky to be taught by Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan took me under his wing and everything. And I remember one thing that he said, he said, they can beat you in 18 holes, but you can grind them down in 36. (Laughter.)
Q. I was wondering, of those 14 wins on Tour, other than the U.S. Open, what would be your most memorable?
KEN VENTURI: Probably the U.S. Open I did very well in, but in that year I won at Firestone. I broke the tournament record. And it was probably the best ball striking that I ever did. I won by, I 3 putted the last hole to win by five strokes. I shot 275 and second was 280. But I would have to say Firestone was my favorite of all. And if I had to pick a golf course to play anybody on, I always favored Harbortown in Hilton Head because Hogan always said, and we go, it's a little different today how far they drive it, it's hard for me to realize where they drive it. And I look at where they go, compared to where I went. But Hogan always said he wanted four things: Narrow fairways, high rough, very hard greens, and small greens. He said, and then the shot maker will beat you. And that's totally true.
Q. Just a follow up on that, you mentioned some of today's players. I'm wondering how you, if any of them stand out to you and who among this current crop, if you can think of any, I don't know how many of them you've seen, but these young guys who are playing now, do you think could have played back in the era when the equipment was not quite as forgiving.
KEN VENTURI: Well, to think about the equipment where it's changed, that's the biggest thing. People I don't like is like Bubba Watson. He hits it 350 yards. I mean that was a par 4 for us. What they can do. And to think of what, when I go back to Firestone, and see where I won and the clubs that I hit and what they hit today, it's just phenomenal. And in those days, in fact in '64, I carried a 1 iron. And I used it in, unbelievable, but it's true as you can say, every time I hit it, I never made a bogey with a 1 iron.
And it was just - but I always liked golf courses - I loved playing over in Ireland and Scotland. I always liked the bump and run. I don't like the elevations of going over canyons and rock walls and things. I like the old way of playing. Over there you bump and run, you got multiple choices. All of us may be on the hole and have a ball in the same place, we may play four different shots. I like the imagination, creativity. In fact like what it was when you played with Hogan it was, I always played with Hogan, and that is if the pin was in the right hand corner and there was a creek on the right and you hit a big looping hook and knocked it three feet from the hole, find yourself another game, because that's not the way it's supposed to be played. You had to play the hole the way it looked. And holes that I don't like, it's not that they're bad holes, they just don't fit my eye. And that's the way Ben Hogan played. He played all by eye.
Q. It's funny you mentioned Bubba and what did you think of the shot that he hit at the end of the Masters tournament?
KEN VENTURI: At the 10th hole? It may be one of the greatest shots I have ever seen in the game. And I'll say this: It couldn't be played by a right hander. He could turn that thing down with a left-hander, a right hander would hit it too much high. But that is, that was probably one of the greatest golf shots you'll ever see in your life.
Q. Could you think of one or two others that were really great shots that you've seen through the years that pop into your mind?
KEN VENTURI: Well, I can, I can tell you some great shots, but didn't result that way. One year, the last year that Byron Nelson played at the Masters he got to the 16th hole and he hit the pin and it came back in the water. And he went up to the drop zone, dropped the ball, hit the shot and hit the pin and it came back in the water. And he ended up making 7. I said, he hit the pin twice, you ought to give him a two. (Laughter.)
Q. I was wondering, I understand that your health and your hands kind of dealt you what it did, but did you make the transition to television rather easily? Were you kind of reluctant about it? Was it difficult? Tell me a little bit about the transition?
KEN VENTURI: Well a story can I tell you which may be told is when I was first asked to do this by Frank Chirkinian, I said no because why I took up golf at 13 years old, the doctor told my mother that I would never be able to speak as long as I lived, because I was an incurable stammerer. And I went out and found the loneliest sport I could find and took up golf. And when I went there this is one of the great stories that Frank Chirkinian, we did taped shows, we did a CBS Golf Classic, and I learned to take the time of doing the interviews and I learned it from Bing Crosby, right here at Pebble Beach where I am.
I was an amateur and I didn't know about doing television. And they asked me, KFRC in San Francisco, if I could get an interview with Bing Crosby. And I says, yeah. So I said Bing, can you do an interview with me? We came to the Lodge, he brought his dog up here, sat down. And we were going to tape the show. And I said, hi, this is Ken Venturi and I have Bing Crosby with me today and we're at Pebble Beach and we're going to talk some golf. He says, Bing says, hold it, shut that off. What? He says, shut that off. He said, pretend now I'm going to interview you. Okay.
So he pretends to do this and he said, hi, this is Bing Crosby, and I have Mr.Ken Venturi with me today and we're at Pebble Beach. And are we going to talk some golf. He hands it back to me and he says, okay, get started. So I go, hi, this is Ken Venturi and I'm here with Mr. Bing Crosby. And that's what the timing was. No one listens to you if you talk loud and fast. And I never talked over golf shots. And when I was being replaced on television and something I did, I was asked advice, what advice do you have for me? And I was a key to this. I said, you'll never go wrong as long as you treat everybody out on the fairway like you would like them to treat you. And that, this is a dumb, stupid shot. What? I say, that's not what he was looking for, he would like to have that over.
And so, but when we did the CBS Golf Classic and working with Jack Whitaker and everything and Frank Chirkinian, who I just loved, he just never could believe that over three times longer I did television, 35 years, and I still am the longest lead running analyst of the history, not golf, sports.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.