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Ken Venturi

From Academic Kids

Ken Venturi (born 1931 in San Francisco, California) was a prominent PGA Tour professional during the late 1950's and early 1960's. Venturi first gained national attention in 1956 when, as an amateur, he came second in that year's Masters after leading from the first round. Only a final round 80 under difficult conditions prevented him from winning outright and thus becoming the first amateur to do so in the history of The Masters.

In the early 50's, Venturi had been a pupil of the great Byron Nelson and was also influenced by playing partner Ben Hogan. With this fine tuning combined with his tremendous talent, Venturi was a regular winner during his early years on the PGA Tour after turning pro at the end of 1956. He again come close to winning the Masters in 1958 and 1960, both times being edged out by Arnold Palmer.

After suffering minor injuries in an automobile accident in 1961 however, Venturi's swing, and thus his career began to slide. This slump lasted until 1964 when, for no reason even Venturi could fathom, he began playing well again. After a couple of high finishes, Venturi reached the pinnacle of his comeback by winning the U.S. Open at Congressional after nearly collapsing in the scorching heat during the then 36-hole final round. His win was actually the top sports story of the year, and he received Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award.

After 1964, Venturi's career again took a blow when he was diagnosed with advanced carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. After several surgeries his condition was reversed, but he was unfortunately never able to regain his past form. After retiring from the Tour in 1967 with a total of 14 career wins, Venturi spent the next 30 years working as a color commentator for CBS Sports as well as owning and operating a series of instructional schools.

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