Ken Venturi dies at 82

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1964 US Open winner Ken Venturi poses with the 2011 winner
1964 US Open winner Ken Venturi poses with the 2011 winner

FORMER US Open winner and long-time golf broadcaster Ken Venturi has died aged 82.

Venturi won the 1964 United States Open while nearing collapse from heat exhaustion and went on to be the chief golf analyst for America’s CBS Sports for many years.

He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May.

Media were told Venturi died in a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California, where he had been hospitalized the last two months for a spinal infection, pneumonia and an intestinal infection.

Venturi had a five-way heart bypass surgery and valve repair in December 2006.

Venturi won 14 tournaments between 1957 and 1966 in a career cut short by circulatory problems in his hands.

He first gained notice in 1956 as an amateur when he led the Masters by four shots entering the final round, only to shoot an 80, losing to Jack Burke Jr. by a stroke. He was the runner-up at the Masters again in 1960, a shot behind Arnold Palmer, who birdied the final two holes.

His signature moment came at the Congressional Country Club in June 1964. With temperatures approaching 100 degrees and high humidity, players struggled to play 36 holes, the last time the Open staged its final two rounds on a single day.

Going into the final 18 holes, Venturi was two shots behind the leader, Tommy Jacobs. After a 45-minute break, Venturi virtually staggered through the final round, with an attendant doctor warning him against continuing out of fear he would die from heat prostration.

The doctor gave Venturi ice cubes, iced tea and salt pills as he played on, sinking a 10-foot putt on the final hole to close out a 70, besting Jacobs by four shots.

“I dropped my putter and I raised my arms up to the sky,” Venturi said at the time. “I said, ‘My God, I’ve won the Open.’ The applause was deafening. It was like thunder coming out there.”

He is survived by his third wife, Kathleen, and two sons, Matthew and Tim.

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