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WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 8, 2012
JACK PETER:¬† Good afternoon, everyone.¬† I'm Jack Peter the Chief Operating Officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum.¬† I would like to welcome everyone today who has called in for this special announcement.
The induction ceremony is scheduled for Monday, May 6th and will once again kick off the PLAYERS Championship.
This is our second announcement for the class of 2013.¬† Three weeks ago we welcomed Fred Couples, who was elected through the PGA TOUR ballot.
And today we're delighted to add another legend to the class.¬† This time through the Lifetime Achievement Category.¬† We'll have additional announcements later this fall and we'll be sure to keep you posted on those dates.
At this time I'm pleased to introduce the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem.¬† Who is here to make the official announcement.¬† Tim.
TIM FINCHEM:¬† Thank you, Jack.¬† On behalf of the Board of Directors of the World Golf Foundation, which represents the major golf organizations globally, and is the organization that oversees the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum, I'm delighted to announce that Ken Venturi will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 6, 2013, as part of the 2013 class at the World Golf Village in Saint Augustine, Florida.
I think that, if I could comment on that development, I think the board was unanimous in its belief that Ken was an appropriate inductee out of the Lifetime Achievement Category because he had a tremendous lifetime of achievement on behalf of golf and achievement that affected golf.
As a PGA TOUR player he won 14 times, punctuated by his heroic win at the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional.¬† A moment that I happened to watch when I was 17 years old, to date myself, and it was fascinating stuff then and candidly still is.
He played on the Ryder Cup in 1965.¬† He captained the U.S. Presidents Cup in 2000.¬† But to fans around the UnitedStates 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.
And 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.
In addition, Ken Venturi is a key individual in what has become the culture of golf generally and particularly the culture of PGA TOUR golf, and that is charity.
For years and years Ken has spent an enormous amount of time impacting people's lives.¬† And just to give a couple of examples, he's been involved with Guiding Eyes For the Blind for 25 years.¬† He's raised money for the local children's hospital for 20 years, over 4 million dollars in an annual event.¬† In Ireland he's been involved in dealing with Downs Syndrome in the Killarney Mental Health Hospital for over 20 years.
Ken has already been recognized because of his induction into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, but it is appropriate and I suppose in many people's minds over due that the World Golf Hall of Fame recognize him.¬† And we look forward to his induction next spring on the Monday of the PLAYERS Championship in Florida.
And now I'll turn it over to Ken for his comments and thoughts.
KEN VENTURI: ¬†Well, thank you, Commissioner.¬† It's just an honor.¬† As I said, the greatest reward in life is to be remembered and I thank the World Golf Hall of Fame for remembering me.
But what's always been known about why I do things like that, 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.
TIM FINCHEM:¬† That's great.
JACK PETER:¬† Well thank you, Ken.¬† On behalf of the Hall of Fame and our staff and the members of the Hall of Fame, I would like to welcome you to the Hall of Fame as well.¬† At this time we would like to open it up to questions from the media.
Q.¬† Congratulations Kenny, it's well deserved and overdue as the Commissioner mentioned.¬† I would like to ask you a couple of things, if you could recall some of your, the fondest memories maybe from your years at CBS and with all the guys that you worked with there and the window that you had into golf during that time period.
KEN VENTURI:¬† Well, my golfing career only lasted 10 and a half years because I lost the use of my hands.¬† And Frank Chirkinian, who hired me with CBS, and having 35 years that I worked with some of the best there is, but I guess that one night at the Waldorf Astoria I was introduced by Jack Whitaker and he summed up my life pretty good, he said, when talking about my career of playing and then getting into broadcasting, he said, fate has a way of bending the twig and fashioning a man to his better instincts.¬† And if one thing had been different, that would have been different, what would have been.
And I said that if I ‑‑ I wouldn't trade being anybody in the whole word.¬† The one I think about is, I wonder what I could have done if I hadn't lost the use of my hands.
Q.¬† I know that the story of the '64 U.S. Open has been told again and again and again, and everybody, by this point every golf fan knows the conditions in which you faced.¬† And I'm wondering, do you, first of all, how difficult would it be for a Major Championship to have 36 holes on the final day?¬† I'm just wondering would that be in any way possible. ¬†And just how close were you to not being able to finish that weekend?
KEN VENTURI:¬† Well, I would say this, is that it was the last year they played 36 holes.¬† And I've been introduced many times and they told me that they're changing to 18 holes a day because of what happened to me.¬† And I said, don't use me, because you know how much money you're going to make on Sunday?
And I don't remember him saying, Doctor Everett, but when I came in off the 18th hole in the morning, I laid down next to my locker and Doctor Everett said, I recommend you don't go out, because it could be fatal.
And I don't make excuses, my father always told me excuses are the crutches for the untalented.¬† But I was in an automobile accident, I was a passenger, and I was out pretty much of commission for two years.
And I was in this position and he recommended I didn't go out.¬† And he said, I don't remember, I looked up at him and I said, it would be better than the way I've been living.
And I got up and I don't remember going to the first tee.¬† But I get introduced and people get carried away about my Open victory and I said, thank you very much for that.¬† But my Open victory, I said, no disrespect, was best described by Joey Lewis, a late comedian, when I walked in after the U.S. Open to Toot Shor's restaurant in New York, I bumped into Frank Sinatra, Toots Shor and Joey Lewis and Joey came over to me ‑‑ and he always called me Vinny ‑‑ he said, Vinny, I got to tell you something.¬† I saw you win the U.S. Open.¬† I saw you stagger and fall and pass out and couldn't make it off the green.¬† I got to tell you, from the bottom of my heart, it's the greatest act I ever saw in my life.
And now I can give my speech.
But that's, I'll never forget that.
And then I'll never, I went to Broadway and went to Hello Dolly, Carol Channing was doing it, never met her, never knew her.¬† And I sat near the rope where she came out on the stage and at the end of the act she sang Hello Dolly, and she pointed down at me and said, and Kenny, it's so nice to have you back where you belong.
And on Broadway, after the show, I got a standing ovation on Broadway.¬† And I didn't meet Carol Channing until we went to the desert.
But those things I'll always treasure and, you know, fate does have a way of bending the twig.
Q.¬† As a follow‑up, Tim, are you still on the line?
TIM FINCHEM:¬† I am.
Q.¬† Tim, you said you were there that weekend.¬† Is the heat or conditions in any way exaggerated?¬† What's your best memory of just how tough it was that day on the players?
TIM FINCHEM:¬† I was watching it on television.
Q.¬† Oh, okay.
KEN VENTURI:¬† He didn't lose any weight either.
TIM FINCHEM:¬† But I can tell you this:¬† I lived in Washington later on for 10 years.¬† And Washington was built on a swamp.
And in the middle of the summer, the heat is as intense as the deepest south part of the country that we have.¬† I mean, it's incredible.
And so after I lived there for few years, when I watched Kenny on CBS, I think about, you know, I used to, I saw him do it, but now having lived here, I know how bad it's, because it was what, 104 that day?
KEN VENTURI:¬† It came to 109 and the humidity was in the 90s.¬† And to best describe it, I had a scale next to my locker and I got on it in the morning when I was there and then when I got dressed and ready to leave, I got on the scale again and that day I lost 8 pounds.
Q.¬† That's a tough way to have to lose it.¬† Tim, talk about, barring rain outs, where time has to be made up on the weekend and everything, 36 holes in a Major Championship or a significant tournament like the PLAYERS and everything, how, just how tough would that be on guys now, given the pressure and the attention and the media coverage that now go to these tournaments?
TIM FINCHEM:¬† Well I think you can see it some in Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup competition, where you see matches in the afternoon.¬† You can just see it on the players faces.
When you're out there with the in between warm‑up for nine, 10 hours, 11 hours, playing golf, it's a stamina question.¬† And then you add to it‑‑ now you won't see that heat in those matches because they're played in the fall.
But you play in that kind of heat, I mean when we play today in the summer, if we're playing in Dallas in May or Memphis in June, and you see those guys soaking wet and they're playing 18 holes, they're fatigued after 18 holes.¬† And you double that up, I mean, any player is going to feel it.¬† And to get to 104, 109 index, I mean that's just crazy.
We wouldn't be, we wouldn't think about playing 36 in a place where the weather is that challenging.
Q.¬† Do you think that Ken's accomplishment goes up there with Hogan coming back from the car accident to win a U.S. Open?
TIM FINCHEM:¬† Well it's a totally different thing, but I think that looking at that and looking at how he had to stop and then actually winning the golf tournament, it's just an incredible thing.
And when he tells his stories about people, it was just, if you watched it, it was such a compelling thing in sports to see.
I mean, think about Michael Jordan playing in the finals, he had the flu.¬† Well he had the flu, but he's now playing in an air conditioned arena.
So I think that it's right up there among those kind of stories in the history of sport.
KEN VENTURI:¬† I'll say one thing about this, about the difference of 18 and 36 holes.¬† I was very lucky to be taught by Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan took me under his wing and everything.¬† And I remember one thing that he said, he said, they can beat you in 18 holes, but you can grind them down in 36.
Q.¬† I was wondering, of those 14 wins on TOUR, other than the U.S. Open, what would be your most memorable?
KEN VENTURI:¬† Probably the U.S. Open I did very well in, but in that year I won at Firestone.¬† I broke the tournament record.¬† And it was probably the best ball striking that I ever did.
I won by, I 3‑putted the last hole to win by five strokes.¬† I shot 275 and second was 280.¬† But I would have to say Firestone was my favorite of all.
And if I had to pick a golf course to play anybody on, I always favored Harbortown in Hilton Head because Hogan always said, and we go, it's a little different today how far they drive it, it's hard for me to realize where they drive it.¬† And I look at where they go, compared to where I went.
But Hogan always said he wanted four things:¬† Narrow fairways, high rough, very hard greens, and small greens.¬† He said, and then the shot maker will beat you.¬† And that's totally true.
Q.¬† Just a follow‑up on that, you mentioned some of today's players.¬† I'm wondering how you, if any of them stand out to you and who among this current crop, if you can think of any, I don't know how many of them you've seen, but these young guys who are playing now, do you think could have played back in the era when the equipment was not quite as forgiving.
KEN VENTURI:¬† Well, to think about the equipment where it's changed, that's the biggest thing.¬† People I don't like is like Bubba Watson.¬† He hits it 350 yards.¬† I mean that was a par‑4 for us.¬† What they can do.
And to think of what, when I go back to Firestone, and see where I won and the clubs that I hit and what they hit today, it's just phenomenal.
And in those days, in fact in '64, I carried a 1‑iron.¬† And I used it in, unbelievable, but it's true as you can say, every time I hit it, I never made a bogey with a 1‑iron.
And it was just‑‑ but I always liked golf courses‑‑ I loved playing over in Ireland and Scotland.¬† I always liked the bump and run.¬† I don't like the elevations of going over canyons and rock walls and things.¬† I like the old way of playing.
Over there you bump and run, you got multiple choices.¬† All of us may be on the hole and have a ball in the same place, we may play four different shots.¬† I like the imagination, creativity.
In fact like what it was when you played with Hogan it was, I always played with Hogan, and that is if the pin was in the right‑hand corner and there was a creek on the right and you hit a big looping hook and knocked it three feet from the hole, find yourself another game, because that's not the way it's supposed to be played.¬† You had to play the hole the way it looked.
And holes that I don't like, it's not that they're bad holes, they just don't fit my eye.¬† And that's the way Ben Hogan played.¬† He played all by eye.
Q.¬† It's funny you mentioned Bubba and what did you think of the shot that he hit at the end of the Masters tournament?
KEN VENTURI:¬† At the 10th hole?¬† It may be one of the greatest shots I have ever seen in the game.
And I'll say this:¬† It couldn't be played by a right‑hander.¬† He could turn that thing down with a left hander, a right‑hander would hit it too much high.
But that is, that was probably one of the greatest golf shots you'll ever see in your life.
Q.¬† Could you think of one or two others that were really great shots that you've seen through the years that pop into your mind?
KEN VENTURI:¬† Well, I can, I can tell you some great shots, but didn't result that way. ¬†One year, the last year that Byron Nelson played at the Masters he got to the 16th hole and he hit the pin and it came back in the water.¬† And he went up to the drop zone, dropped the ball, hit the shot and hit the pin and it came back in the water.¬† And he ended up making 7.
I said, he hit the pin twice, you ought to give him a two.
Q.¬† I was wondering, I understand that your health and your hands kind of dealt you what it did, but did you make the transition to television rather easily?¬† Were you kind of reluctant about it?¬† Was it difficult?¬† Tell me a little bit about the transition?
KEN VENTURI:¬† Well a story can I tell you which may be told is when I was first asked to do this by Frank Chirkinian, I said no because why I took up golf at 13 years old, the doctor told my mother that I would never be able to speak as long as I lived, because I was an incurable stammerer.¬† And I went out and found the loneliest sport I could find and took up golf.
And when I went there ‑‑ this is one of the great stories that Frank Chirkinian, we did taped shows, we did a CBS Golf Classic, and I learned to take the time of doing the interviews and I learned it from Bing Crosby, right here at Pebble Beach where I am.
I was an amateur and I didn't know about doing television.¬† And they asked me, KFRC in San Francisco, if I could get an interview with Bing Crosby.¬† And I says, yeah.¬† So I said Bing, can you do an interview with me?
We came to the Lodge, he brought his dog up here, sat down.¬† And we were going to tape the show.¬† And I said, hi, this is Ken Venturi and I have Bing Crosby with me today and we're at Pebble Beach and we're going to talk some golf.
He says, Bing says, hold it, shut that off.¬† What?¬† He says, shut that off.¬† He said, pretend now I'm going to interview you.¬† Okay.
So he pretends to do this and he said, hi, this is Bing Crosby, and I have Mr.Ken Venturi with me today and we're at Pebble Beach.¬† And are we going to talk some golf.
He hands it back to me and he says, okay, get started.¬† So I go, hi, this is Ken Venturi and I'm here with Mr.Bing Crosby.¬† And that's what the timing was.¬† No one listens to you if you talk loud and fast.
And I never talked over golf shots.
And when I was being replaced on television and something I did, I was asked advice, what advice do you have for me?¬† And I was a key to this.¬† I said, you'll never go wrong as long as you treat everybody out on the fairway like you would like them to treat you.¬† And that, this is a dumb, stupid shot.¬† What?¬† I say, that's not what he was looking for, he would like to have that over.
And so, but when we did the CBS Golf Classic and working with Jack Whitaker and everything and Frank Chirkinian, who I just loved, he just never could believe that over three times longer I did television, 35 years, and I still am the longest lead running analyst of the history, not golf, sports.
JACK PETER:¬† Well congratulations again, Ken, and we look forward to welcoming you into the Hall of Fame family next spring.
I want to thank Commissioner Finchem for participating today and I would also like to thank everyone on the phone who is with us for today's announcement.
We will have transcripts available and we will post them on‑line for you.
If you have interview requests for Ken we would ask you to contact Travis Hill, our Director of Communications.
That concludes our call for today and I would like to thank everybody very much.
KEN VENTURI:¬† I would like to say one thing before we leave, Jack.¬† This is the last‑‑ the last time I had tears in my eyes was when I won the U.S. Open.¬† This has been a special day and I'm deeply honored and thank God for the talent and I have been blessed with the greatest friends anyone could ever have.
JACK PETER:¬† Congratulations to you again, Ken.¬† And we look forward to your induction.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports