Ken Venturi, the 1964 U.S. Open champion and CBS analyst, died on Friday afternoon, according to the Associated Press. Venturi was 82. According to his son, Matt Venturi, he died in a hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif., after being admitted for a myriad of issues, including a spinal infection, pneumonia and an intestinal infection.
The latter was the most recent ailment, and it became too much for Venturi to fight.
"For the second time in a month, the CBS Sports family has lost one of its legends with the passing of Ken Venturi," CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said in a released statement. "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."
Venturi's victory at the Open in 1964 was famous for the fact that he fought off dehydration, almost collapsing in the 100-degree heat during the 36-hole final day. That year, he received the Sports Illustrated "Sportsman of the Year" award and PGA Player of the Year award.
Most recently, Venturi was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. That actually happened 12 days prior to his death, and though he couldn't make it to the induction due to his worsening health, his sons, Matt and Tim, accepted on his behalf.
After his playing career was over, Venturi launched a highly successful career with CBS as a broadcaster and analyst, and became one of the most prominent voices in golf broadcasting. His broadcasting career was all the more impressive due to the severe stuttering problem he had as a child. He worked 35 years in the booth for CBS, despite those early troubles.
Nantz said in a statement:
"He was one of the finest gentlemen the world will ever know and one of the greatest friends you could ever have. He was a deeply principled man with a dynamic presence. He just exuded class. Through his competitive days and unequalled 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."