World Golf Hall of Famer and PGA Tour legend Ken Venturi passed away on Friday afternoon in a California hospital, near where he made his home outside of Palm Springs. He was 82.
His death came just two days after his 82nd birthday, and 11 days after he was inducted into said Hall of Fame. He was not able to attend the ceremony, instead battling a spinal infection, pneumonia and an intestinal infection that eventually took his life.
Venturi's son, Matt, first broke the news that his father is no longer with us, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. According to the report, Venturi had dealt with various medical issues for the final few years of his life, including quintuple bypass surgery in 2006 and more heart problems in 2011.
A pioneer for the game of golf, Venturi will not soon be forgotten.
Best remembered for his triumph at the 1964 U.S. Open, Venturi battled through extreme dehydration, dizziness and heatstroke to capture the Open title in a 36-hole marathon on the final day at the Congressional Country Club.
Per the Chronicle report, Venturi was quoted over the years as saying that people continually sought him out to talk about the 1964 Open triumph, vividly remembering the locations of the ball, the shots he made and exact details that were stunning to the man who won the trophy.
"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,” he said in an April 2011 interview. "There aren’t many Opens where everyone can tell you all about it."
The victory was the only such major championship win of his career, but it hardly does justice to his entire legacy.
He first made headlines at the Masters in 1956, when he finished second as the low amateur. He was on the radar again at Augusta in 1958, when he went toe-to-toe with eventual green-jacket champion Arnold Palmer in the final round. Over the course of his career, he would capture nine other top-10 finishes at major tournaments.
Injured in a car wreck in 1961, Venturi battled the effects of that accident throughout the rest of his career. His perseverance at the Open was a symbol of his love for the game, and one that golf fans will not soon forget.
Retiring from golf in 1968 due to numerous health issues, he moved to the broadcast booth for CBS Sports' coverage of the sport. He completed a 35-year career with the network in 2002 and was considered the "voice of golf" despite having a stuttering problem when he was a young man.
In many ways, Venturi was a symbol of perseverance in everything he accomplished.
Venturi was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on May 6 under the Lifetime Achievement category after being selected for the award back in October 2012.
As John Strege said on Twitter after his passing, there are very few—if any—that can claim the career or the legendary status in the sport that Venturi had over the course of his playing and broadcasting career:
John Strege @JohnStrege
Ken Venturi, 1931-2013: “The full body of work...there’s nobody in that Hall of Fame that’s done what he’s done." http://t.co/lZkef7ItYI5/17/2013, 11:39:04 PM
Venturi was also the Presidents Cup captain in 2000.
On a truly sad day for golfers, fans and historians everywhere, Venturi is no longer with us to tell the magnificent tales of how he became one of golf's most notable players.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Venturi family during this difficult time of mourning.
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