Venturi Passes

Ken Venturi, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame only last week, died Friday afternoon. He turned 82 years old on Wednesday.

As an amateur, Venturi got the attention of the golf world in 1956 when he was the 54-leader in the Masters before closing with an 80. He was runner-up at Augusta National in 1960 to Arnold Palmer, who birdied the final two holes. Four years later, he cemented his place in golf history by winning the 1964 U.S. Open in one of the game's gutsiest performances ever.

On a steamy, 100-degree day at Congressional Country Club outside Washington D.C., Venturi overcame heat prostration and 36 holes on the final day to beat Tommy Jacobs by four strokes.

Incredibly, and much to the nation's admiration, he finished with rounds of 66 and 70 despite almost collapsing from the heat. A doctor tending him between rounds recommended that Venturi stop playing.

For his remarkable performance - and two additional victories that year, Venturi was named by Sports Illustrated as its "Sportsman of the Year."

"I've seen people over the years who not only tell me I won the Open, they tell me where I won it, what I shot and exactly what I did," Venturi said in a 2011 interview. "There aren't many Opens where everyone can tell you all about it."

Venturi's final Tour victory came in the 1966 Lucky International Open. Soon after, Venturi was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. Despite multiple surgeries the San Francisco native never recovered, leaving competitive golf in 1967.

Venturi soon moved to the broadcasting booth, serving as an incisive, authoritative golf analyst for CBS Sports for 35 years, the longest such stint behind the microphone in sports broadcasting history. He retired from broadcasting in 2002.

His long-time partner and CBS golf anchor, Jim Nantz, read aloud a personal letter to Venturi at his long-time friend's introduction during the Hall of Fame ceremony. Venturi was not in attendance, due to illness.

"You did it your way, Kenny," Nantz wrote. "There will never be another one like you. Thank you for the ride. You have left a stamp not just on my career, Kenny, but on my soul."

Venturi's son, called the San Francisco Chronicle about his father's passing.

Funeral services are pending.

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