The Passing of a Golfing Gentlemen: I was barely six years old when Ken Venturi, who passed away yesterday at the age of 82, first entered my consciousness. My parents were at the 1964 US Open at Congressional Country Club for his historic victory while suffering heat stroke. His time as a player was cut short because of problems with his hands, but he went on to become, for my generation, the voice of golf. It’s ironic that one of his partners in the booth, Pat Summerall, passed away last month as well.
When he retired from broadcasting in May of 2002, every player paid tribute by acknowledging him as they left the 18th green on Sunday. I watched that broadcast from a beach house while on vacationing on Florida’s Gulf Coast. With tears in my eyes, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone, we bid farewell to a style and delivery that will most likely never be duplicated.
The reason the players showed him such respect was because he gave them the same consideration for all of his 35 years in the booth. He didn’t see the need to criticize them, but instead reported the action with the utmost professionalism and dignity. When paired with the aforementioned Summerall, they succeeded in painting golf action like artists transforming a canvas.
Ken Venturi was in the golf booth as Palmer gave way to Nicklaus, as Nicklaus battled Watson, as Faldo and Norman rose in prominence and as Tiger Woods transformed the game. Throughout it all, he was the constant on those many Sunday afternoons spent watching the greatest players in the world battle their opponents, the course and themselves. Thank you Ken Venturi for those memories and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the many friends he had in and outside of the golf world.
Can the Spurs Get Some Love? It seems to me that most people have forgotten that the second seeded San Antonio Spurs are still very much alive in the NBA playoffs. It may be the last hurrah for Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, so I don’t expect to see these guys go out quietly. I admit the Memphis Grizzlies have been very impressive, but they’ve never been in this position before and the last time I checked, this isn’t exactly new territory for the Spurs.
On the other side of the bracket, the Miami Heat are just sitting back awaiting the end of the series between the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers. If the Knicks can force a Game 7 with a victory tonight in Indiana, it could give the Heat’s Dewayne Wade another couple of days to rest his bruised knee. Wade’s health will be a major concern for the Heat as they try to get to the NBA Finals for the third consecutive season. Without Wade, the Pacers or Knicks could make it competitive. With him, I simply don’t see anyone beating the Heat four times in two weeks.