(Reuters) - Former U.S. Open champion and television broadcaster Ken Venturi, a 14-times winner on the PGA Tour, died on Friday at the age of 82 following various health complications.
Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame just 11 days ago, Venturi had been in hospital for the last two months for a spinal infection, pneumonia and an intestinal infection, the PGA Tour said in a statement.
Venturi’s son, Matt, said his father had died in a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California, where he had been living for several years.
The highlight of Venturi’s playing career came in the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club where he overcame 100-degree temperatures and severe dehydration to win his only major championship.
He was forced to quit competitive golf because of carpal tunnel syndrome in 1967. The following year, he joined CBS television as an analyst and enjoyed a lengthy career as one of the most insightful and respected figures in the game.
“He played on the Ryder Cup in 1965, he captained the U.S. Presidents Cup in 2000,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said last October after Venturi was voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2013.
”But to fans around the United States and around the world, he was the conduit of what PGA Tour level golf was to those fans for an incredible 35-year broadcast career which spanned many, many careers on the PGA Tour.
“Ken Venturi was a fixture to the game of golf for fans everywhere in terms of his ability to analyze the game and excite fans about the play they were watching.”
Venturi, a San Francisco native who learned to play golf at Harding Park, described his induction into the Hall of Fame as “just an honor” when speaking on a conference call from Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.
“The greatest reward in life is to be remembered and I thank the World Golf Hall of Fame for remembering me,” Venturi said.
”I was taught by Byron Nelson and I asked him one time, ‘How could I ever repay you for all you’ve done for me?’ He said, ‘Ken, be good to the game and give back.’
“And that’s what I’ve tried to do because I’ve said many times, the world will never remember you for what you take from it, but only what you leave behind.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury