Ken Venturi's shining moment came in a courageous victory while battling heat exhaustion at the 1964 U.S. Open, but it should also be noted that he was one of the Tour's best players during the late 1950s.
He won 14 tournaments in a PGA Tour career that ended prematurely due to a circulatory problem in his hands.
Venturi, born in San Francisco in 1931, was runner-up in the first U.S. Junior championship in 1948.
Venturi nearly won the 1956 Masters as an amateur, taking a four-stroke lead into the final round before collapsing with an 80 in windy conditions to finish second, one stroke behind Jack Burke Jr.
Venturi, who turned pro later in 1956, would come close in two more Masters. He finished fourth, two strokes off the lead, in 1958, and he was second by one stroke in 1960 thanks to Arnold Palmer's finish of birdies on the last two holes.
Nonetheless, Venturi finished in the top 10 on the money list in his first four years on Tour, 1957-60, winning 10 events in that span.
Venturi had gained a reputation as one of the best iron players in the game. However, after 1960, he decided to make some changes to gain more length off the tee. His game lost consistency and he went into a deep slump.
Venturi began to return to form in 1964, but he was still a long shot at the U.S. Open. Venturi was two strokes behind after a third-round 66 at Congressional. By the end of the round, the 100-degree heat was beginning to get to him, and there was some question whether Venturi would be able to complete the 36-hole final day. With a doctor following him, Venturi managed to get around with a closing 70 to win by four.
He won three more events in 1964, but the next year Venturi was struck by the circulatory problem. He had surgery and missed most of the campaign. He came back with one win in 1966, but the ailment still dogged him. Venturi soon retired from competition and became a fixture in the CBS broadcast booth.
For more information about golf, see:
- The Best Golfers of All Time
- How Golf Clubs Work