Last night on the “In Memory of” portion of the ESPYS, a man by the name of Ken Venturi was mentioned having recently passed away. But several months before that I wrote a brief profile on him for NBC Bay Area.
Just days before his death, the 82-year-old San Francisco native, golf champion and national golf broadcaster, Ken Venturi joined 130 of the greatest golfers in the world.
Venturi participated in SJSU’s golf team during the years of 1951-53′ and his induction is described as “a tremendous honor for one of SJSU’s most decorated athletes of all time,” by SJSU Athletics Media Relations Director Lawrence Fan. “He had a wonderful professional career in sports and then in broadcasting while always keeping SJSU close to his heart,” Fan said. “He still has constant contact with the men’s golf coach and has conducted clinics and fundraisers on behalf of the golf program here at SJSU.”
Being the only amateur with a 54-hole lead in the Masters, the voice of CBS Sports for 35 years and winning captain of the 2000 President’s Cup are just a few accomplishments under Venturi’s belt. His proceeding broadcasting career even proved exceptional when he was awarded the PGA of American Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award in 2000.
USGA Executive Director Mike Davis told Spartan Athletics that Venturi’s 1964 U.S. Open victory is one of the greatest moments of the tournament’s 112-year history. “His ability to overcome extremely difficult conditions at Congressional personifies the perseverance, determination and execution required to be a U.S. Open champion.”
Part of a golden era in Bay Area golfing, Venturi joined golfers Bob Rosburg, Johnny Miller and George Archer in a San Franciscans-take-all winning streak. “The last time I had tears in my eyes was when I won the U.S. Open,” Venturi said. “This has been a special day, and I’m deeply honored.”
He participated in many charities including New York-based organization called Guiding Eyes Classic which benefited blind golfers and raised more than $6 million. One of the participating guide dogs ended up saving his owner’s life, safely guiding him down the stairs of the World Trade Center’s North Tower.
Venturi’s off-field life also proved one for the books, but when your best friend slash roommate is Frank Sinatra and you get a shout out in one of Mark Frost’s books, no less is expected.
He is survived by his third wife, Kathleen, and two sons, Matthew and Tim, according to The Associated Press.