Ken Venturi, the former professional golfer and broadcaster who was best known for memorably winning the 1964 U.S. Open while nearly collapsing on the course from heat exhaustion at Congressional, passed away on Friday at the age of 82.
Venturi’s son, Matt, informed the San Francisco Chronicle of Venturi’s passing. Venturi was a San Francisco native.
According to the Chronicle, “Venturi had been hospitalized for more than two months in Southern California. He developed infections in his back, pneumonia and later an intestinal infection.”
In 1964, Venturi played 36 holes in the final round of the U.S. Open at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland in 100 degree temperatures. He staggered on the course and nearly collapsed from heat exhaustion, but somehow managed win the tournament–his only Open–over Raymond Floyd. He famously said, nearly delirious, “Oh my God, I’ve won the Open.”
After a golf career that saw him win 14 times on the PGA Tour, he would later be a distinguished golf broadcaster for CBS.
Venturi thought about quitting golf after a stellar amateur career and a year before he won his memorable–and legendary–Open.
As GolfWeek recounted, his father told him that “anybody can give up” because “it takes no talent.”
After that stern message from “the San Francisco bartender who told Venturi he was wasting his talent,” Venturi got off his barstool and “promised to quit drinking until he won again,” and he began his comeback.
When he won the Open, Venturi was “was nearly broke,” “his first marriage was collapsing,” and “he had been written off as finished.”
The golfer and broadcaster had just turned 82 on Wednesday and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last week but could not attend the ceremony in Florida.
Venturi was known for saying that “the greatest reward in life is to be remembered.” His 1964 U.S. Open win ensured that he would always be.