2004: Venturi writes that Palmer cheated

In a book that will be released as Arnold Palmer prepares for his 50th and final Masters, Ken Venturi claims Palmer broke the rules when he won the first of his four Masters titles in 1958.

“Nobody, not even Palmer, is bigger than the game,” Venturi says in “Getting Up & Down: My 60 Years in Golf.”

“I firmly believe that he did wrong and that he knows that I know he did wrong.”

Venturi, the 1964 U.S. Open champion who spent 35 years as a golf analyst for CBS Sports, declined an interview request Friday. His agent said Triumph Books, the publisher, does not want him to talk about the book until it is released March 17.

Doc Giffin, Palmer’s longtime spokesman, said Palmer preferred not to comment.

The allegation involves a drop Palmer took behind the par-3 12th green in the final round of the ’58 Masters, a ruling that has been well-documented.

Palmer wanted relief from an imbedded ball, but rules official Arthur Lacey declined his request.

Believing he was entitled to the free drop, Palmer says he announced he would be playing two balls. He made double bogey playing the imbedded ball, then returned to the location, took a drop and saved par.

Tournament officials told Palmer three holes later that he was entitled to relief and that the par would count on his scorecard.

Palmer went on to win the Masters by one shot over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins.

Venturi, playing with Palmer in the final round, finished two shots behind.

Rule 3-3a allows golfers to play a second ball when a dispute arises, but they are to announce their intentions before “taking further action.”

Venturi says Palmer decided to play a second ball only after he made double bogey.

In his book, Venturi writes: “Only Palmer wasn’t ready to give up on the 12th hole just yet.”

“I didn’t like your ruling,” he said, glaring at Lacey. “I’m going to play a provisional ball.” (He was really playing what is called a “second ball.”)

“You can’t do that,” I told him. “You have to declare a second before you hit your first one. Suppose you had chipped in with the other ball? Would you still be playing a second?”

Venturi says he confronted Palmer again in the scoring tent.

“You’re signing an incorrect card,” I told him.

“No, I’m not,” he said. “The ruling was made.”

Venturi wrote that he waited to tell the story because of his “responsibilities and loyalties to CBS.

“The network needed to maintain a good relationship with Augusta National,” he wrote.

– Associated Press

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