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Former U.S. Open champ, longtime broadcaster Venturi dies

The SportsXchange

Ken Venturi won only one major championship during his professional career -- the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional in Bethesda, Md. He endured scorching temperatures and high humidity to come from two strokes back on the final day -- which included 36 holes -- to win the title.

The former PGA Tour golfer won 14 PGA Tour events and retired in 1967. For the next 35 years, he wasn't far away from the greens as he enjoyed a long career as a broadcaster with CBS Sports. Venturi died Friday afternoon at the age of 82.

Venturi was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last week, but poor health prevented him from attending the ceremony in St. Augustine, Fla. He was inducted under the Lifetime Achievement category.

Jim Nantz, who worked alongside Venturi for years, paid tribute to his partner at the ceremony.

"You did it your way, Kenny. There will never be another one like you. Thank you for the ride. You have left a stamp not just on my career, Kenny, but on my soul."

For his efforts at the 1964 U.S. Open, "Sports Illustrated" named Venturi its Sportsman of the Year.

Venturi turned 82 on Wednesday.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Venturi had survived a bout with prostate cancer in 2000-01 and had quintuple heart bypass surgery in 2006.

During his career on the course and in the broadcast booth, Venturi overcame more than his share of hurdles. He had a severe stutter, and suffered two heartbreaking losses in the Masters. A 1961 car accident left him with lingering injuries and he disappeared into a long, maddening, career-threatening slump, the Chronicle reported.

But when his final putt dropped at the 1964 U.S. Open, Venturi was stunned.

He raised his arms, mumbled, "Oh my God, I've won the Open!" and began crying when he saw tears streaming down the face of fellow competitor Raymond Floyd.
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