Hall of Famer Ken Venturi dies at age 82

By Will GrayMay 17, 2013, 10:43 pm

Less than two weeks after being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, former major champion and noted broadcaster Ken Venturi has died. 

His son, Matt Venturi, said his father died in a hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Venturi, who turned 82 on Wednesday, had been hospitalized the last two months for a spinal infection, pneumonia, and then an intestinal infection that he could no longer fight.

A native of San Francisco, Venturi won the California State Amateur in 1951 and again in 1956. In the latter year, he nearly won the Masters as an amateur, leading after three rounds before ultimately finishing second, one shot behind winner Jack Burke Jr.


Ken Venturi: Articles, videos and photos

Photos: Venturi through the years

Photos: Venturi on 'Feherty'


The highlight of Venturi's playing career came in 1964, when he conquered challenging conditions, oppressive heat and severe dehydration to claim the U.S. Open title in a 36-hole finish at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. After the final putt dropped, he said 'My God, I've won the U.S. Open.'

It was his lone career major, and served as the 11th of 14 career PGA Tour titles. His Open victory led Sports Illustrated to name him its Sportsman of the Year for 1964.

After his playing days were over, Venturi went on to spend 35 years in the broadcast booth for CBS Sports, retiring in 2002.

That he became a broadcaster was ironic, because he had suffered from severe stammering as a child.

''When I was 13 years old, the teacher told my mother, 'I'm sorry, Mrs. Venturi, but your son will never be able to speak. He's an incurable stammerer,''' Venturi said in 2011. ''My mother asked me what I planned to do. I said, 'I'm taking up the loneliest sport I know,' and picked up a set of hickory shaft across the street from a man and went to Harding Park and played my first round of golf.''

As news of Venturi's passing spread, statements of tribute began pouring in from the golf world.

'I was very sorry to hear of Ken's passing,' Arnold Palmer said. 'He was a friend and an opponent and I had the utmost respect for him throughout his career. He was a great competitor and the golf world will miss him.'

'I was very upset and saddened to hear the news of Ken's passing,' Jack Nicklaus said. 'We all knew what a wonderful player Ken Venturi was, and how he fashioned a second successful career as an announcer. But far more important than how good he was at playing the game or covering it, Ken was my friend.  Ken was fortunate in that the game of golf gave him so much, but without question, Ken gave back far more to the game he loved than he ever gained from it. Over the years, Ken developed a circle of friends that is enormous and whose collective heart is heavy today. All those in and out of the golf community will miss him, just as Barbara and I will.

'If there is some sense of fairness, it is that Ken was inducted into a Hall of Fame that he very much deserved to be in and, in fact, should have been in for many years. While I know he was not able to be there in person for his induction, I am certain there was an overwhelming sense of pride and peace that embraced Ken. It was a dream of Ken Venturi's that became a reality before he sadly left us.'

“For the second time in a month, the CBS Sports family has lost one of its legends with the passing of Ken Venturi,' said CBS Sports Chairman Sean Mcmanus. 'Ken was not only one of golf’s greatest champions, but also the signature voice of golf for almost two generations of fans and viewers.  His stature, expertise and personality working in the 18th tower alongside Pat Summerall, Jim Nantz and the rest of the CBS golf team will forever be synonymous with the greatest golf events on CBS.”

'He was one of the finest gentlemen the world will ever know and one of the greatest friends you could ever have,' said Venturi's former CBS golf announcing partner and protege Jim Nantz. 'He was a deeply principled man with a dynamic presence. He just exuded class. Through his competitive days and unequaled broadcasting career, Kenny became a human bridge connecting everyone from Sarazen, Nelson and Hogan to the greatest players of today's generation.

'Kenny faced many adversities in his life and always found a way to win.  When I hear Frank Sinatra's 'My Way,' I will always believe that Ol’ Blue Eyes was singing that song for his close pal, Kenny Venturi. It makes me think of him every time. On his farewell broadcast in 2002 I told him, ‘You will be, always by my side.'   Five years later I wrote a book about my dad and father figures in my life. I named the book after that very moment.

'I'm so happy he lived to know he was going to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. I will cherish my 17 years working with him. But more than that, I will treasure the rich, personal, deep friendship that we shared for nearly 30 years.'

'The PGA Tour joins the world of golf in mourning the loss of one of its most treasured champions and ambassadors, Ken Venturi,' a Tour release read. 'His impact on the Tour and the game itself cannot be overstated. His tremendous accomplishments on the golf course were certainly Hall of Fame worthy on their own, but in Ken one finds a rare example of a golfer whose second career, in television, rivaled the legendary status of his competitive achievements. His unique perspective and poetic delivery as an announcer enhanced countless memorable moments in golf, making his voice and presence as in indelible as the historic tournaments he covered. Ken will forever be remembered as a consummate gentleman, and he will be truly missed.'

The World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Augustine, Fla., in a statement issued by Chief Operating Officer Jack Peter, said the U.S. flag at the Hall of Fame would be lowered to half-staff and a special tribute created in the museum in Venturi's honor.

'On behalf of the Members, staff and volunteers of the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum, we are saddened to learn of the passing of Ken Venturi,' Peter said. 'He was one of golf's iconic figures, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Ken's family.

'Ken made an unforgettable imprint on the game we love. He was a fantastic player, and captivated the nation with his thrilling victory in the 1964 U.S. Open. For 35 years in the broadcast booth at CBS, he was the warm, friendly voice millions invited into their homes to share his unique insights.

'When Ken learned he would be a part of the Class of 2013, he said, 'The greatest reward in life is to be remembered.' The Hall of Fame and golf fans everywhere will never forget the impact Ken had on the game.'

Battling a variety of health issues, Venturi was unable to attend the ceremony last week at the Hall of Fame, where he was inducted as part of the Lifetime Achievement category. Instead, Nantz, who was slated to introduce Venturi at the ceremony, accepted the honor on his behalf.

Venturi is survived his wife of 10 years, Kathleen, and his two sons. Matt Venturi said services were pending.


Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Getty Images

Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

Getty Images

Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

Getty Images

Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

Getty Images

McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.