'I never, ever used that word,' Venturi said from his home in California. 'There's nothing like that in my book. It's caused me a tremendous amount of embarrassment.'
Venturi contends Palmer did not understand the rules when he played a second ball from an imbedded lie in the final round of the '58 Masters.
'It was an infraction of the rules -- we've all been guilty of that,' Venturi said. 'A cheater is someone who knows the rule and purposely breaks it. I never said that (about Palmer).'
Venturi's book, 'Getting Up & Down: My 60 Years in Golf,' created a controversy last month as Palmer prepared to play his 50th and final Masters.
Palmer trailed Venturi by one shot in the '58 Masters when he sought relief from an imbedded ball behind the par-3 12th green. The rules official, Arthur Lacey of the British PGA, denied Palmer a free drop.
Palmer disagreed and played two balls, making a double bogey with the first one and a par with the second one.
Tournament officials told Palmer three holes later that he was entitled to relief and that the par would count on his scorecard. Palmer went on to win by one shot over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins.
Venturi said the debate comes down to each player's version of the second ball.
Venturi says in his book that Palmer only declared he was playing a second ball after making double bogey. Palmer has written in two books -- 'A Golfer's Life' and 'Playing by the Rules' -- that he announced he was playing two balls before playing either of them.
Whatever the case, the rules still back Palmer.
Tom Meeks, senior director of rules and competition for the U.S. Golf Association, said Sunday that the 1958 rule (11-5) for playing two balls stipulated that if a player failed to announce his intentions ahead of time, the score he made with the second ball would count as his score.
That was the heart of Venturi's argument.
'What if he had chipped in for birdie? He wouldn't play a second ball, would he?' Venturi said.
He said players were supposed to play the balls simultaneously; otherwise, they would get an idea of the speed and break of the green from playing the first ball to a conclusion.
Meeks, however, said the rules did not require that.
In an argument over semantics, Venturi said he was disturbed by headlines that used the word 'cheat.' He said the only reference to golf's dirtiest word was in Palmer's book, 'Playing by the Rules.'
'I later heard that Ken Venturi was particularly upset, feeling like he had been cheated by my second-ball situation at the 12th,' Palmer wrote.
Venturi said he has not called Palmer since the book was published March 17, and doesn't feel as if he needs to.
'Going back to what my father always told me, when you're right, you don't have to explain anything to anybody,' Venturi said. 'I don't have to justify my position to Arnold. It's the newspapers' place to say, 'Ken Venturi did not say that.''
Palmer declined to talk about Venturi's book when asked repeatedly about it last month at Bay Hill.
'I don't know a thing about it, I really don't,' he said. 'And I'm not really too interested. That's my comment.'
Palmer won the Masters four times. Venturi finished fourth in 1958, and he was runner-up two years later when Palmer birdied the last two holes to win by one shot.
Venturi has not been back to the Masters since he retired as a CBS Sports analyst two years ago.
He was an honorary starter in 1983 when Byron Nelson's wife died, and Venturi said club chairman Hootie Johnson asked him upon his retirement from CBS if he wanted to be an honorary starter.
'I told him, 'Don't ever break tradition,'' Venturi said. 'The honorary starter should be a Masters champion. I wish I were a Masters champion. But I turned him down.'
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