“My God, I’ve Won The Open”

Ken Venturi still reminds me of the CBS golf analyst that I grew up with on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

He’s 80 now and hasn’t played the TV game in about a decade. He’s still more entertaining than half of the knuckleheads on-air.

Venturi’s way of telling a story sucks you in and doesn’t let you leave the moment. That’s why he shined on TV for three and a half decades, more time than I’ve had the honor to watch the great game of golf.

The 1964 U.S. Open champion at Congressional Country Club met about 40 folks on Monday morning for a trip down memory lane. Venturi entered Sunday’s 36-hole final round six shots back. He won by four.

1964 U.S. Open Champion Ken Venturi

No questions about Tiger at this 30-minute session. All Ken, who really didn’t even need a question to be asked at all.  He never wanted to win The Masters, Open Championship or PGA Championship. It was all about the United State Open for Ken Venturi.

“My God, I’ve won the Open,” Venturi said on his championship, choking up through his words. “I played with Raymond Floyd that day. The 21-year-old picked the ball out of the hole on 18 for me. Then he started crying and then I cried. I’ll never forget that for as long as I live.”

At that point in the press conference, most of us needed a Kleenex.

The last time Venturi played Congressional was that hot day in June when he endured record-breaking heat through 36 holes to win the Open. “After you hit a hole-in-one, you don’t take a mulligan,” Venturi said in a grandfatherly tone.

Venturi told us that his father told him he was never that good. When he won a city championship, Venturi’s Dad would ask him if he knew how many cities were in the country. When he won the U.S. Open, Mr. Venturi told Ken to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

All Ken Venturi wanted in his entire life was admiration from his father. Facing a surgery that would end his playing days, Venturi got something better than a U.S. Open trophy.

“You were the best I ever saw,” Venturi’s Dad told him.

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