1964 US Open champ Ken Venturi died on Friday afternoon at the age of 82. Venturi, who battled dehydration in the final rounds of the 1964 US Open, also spent 35 years in the booth for CBS Sports.
The golfer’s son, Matt Venturi, announced that the hall of famer died in a hospital in Ranch Mirage, California. He had been hospitalized the last two months for a spinal infection, pneumonia, then an intestinal infection he couldn’t fight off.
Ken Venturi died just 12 says after being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He was unable to make it to the induction ceremony, though his sons, Matt and Tim, accepted the award on his behalf.
The prominent amateur was born in and grew up in San Francisco. He won his only major at the US Open at Congressional, the last year that the final round was 36 holes. Venturi battled oppressive heat and symptoms of dehydration.
A doctor recommended he stop playing, saying the condition could be fatal. However, Ken Venturi pressed on. He closed with a 70 and stated, “My God, I’ve won the U.S. Open.”
Despite having a severe stuttering problem when he was young, he went on to become a familiar voice in golf broadcasting. Jim Nantz, who worked alongside Venturi at CBS, recalled of his friend and colleague:
“Doctors told his mother he will never speak. He will never be able to say his own name. That’s what drove him to golf, to sit on a range, beating balls, hearing himself in total clarity in his head, ‘This is to win the U.S. Open.’ And he overcame that with great will and determination.”
Despite only winning one masters, Ken Venturi was the 54-hole leader in the 1956 Masters until he closed with an 80. He was also runner-up at Augusta National in 1960 to Arnold Palmer, who was able to birdie the last two holes.
Funeral services for Ken Venturi are pending.