Health will keep Venturi from Hall of Fame induction
When Ken Venturi learned last fall that he had been selected in the Lifetime Achievement Category and would be recognized as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, he could hardly restrain his joy.
“The last time I had tears in my eyes was when I won the U.S. Open,” Venturi, 81, said during an Oct. 9 conference call that announced his selection. “The greatest reward in life is to be remembered. It’s the dream of a lifetime.”
However, Venturi, who overcame severe dehydration on the final day to win the 1964 Open, has been hospitalized recently with an infection following a surgical procedure and will be unable to attend the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony scheduled for May 6 in St. Augustine, Fla.
His son, Matt Venturi, said that though his father’s health has been improving, the elder Venturi is unable to make the cross-country trip from California, where he lives, to St. Augustine.
“He’s stable,” Matt Venturi said Tuesday. “His vitals are in good shape. He had a lot of pain in his back, and he’s just not that mobile right now. I know he’s really disappointed about it. He wishes he could be there.”
Matt Venturi said he and his brother, several family members and close friends are still planning to attend the ceremony to celebrate his father’s achievement, and CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz will introduce his former broadcast partner and accept the award on his behalf. After his playing career, Ken Venturi worked as a CBS commentator for 35 years.
Venturi’s induction will be a popular one with his fellow players, said longtime PGA Tour pro Al Geiberger.
“I grew up in Northern California, and Venturi was the big hot-shot,” said Geiberger, speaking at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. “The Hall of Fame gets criticized a lot, but Ken’s very deserving. He won a U.S. Open . . . and I’ve always said what he did as a broadcaster should count basically as another major.”