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Venturi Takes Shot at Palmer

In a new book, the former analyst and U.S. Open champion claims Palmer broke the rules during his first Masters championship in 1958.

March 06, 2004|From Associated Press

In a book that will be released as Arnold Palmer prepares for his 50th and final Masters, Ken Venturi claims Palmer broke the rules when he won the first of his four Masters titles in 1958.

"Nobody, not even Palmer, is bigger than the game," Venturi says in "Getting Up & Down: My 60 Years in Golf," scheduled for release March 17.

"I firmly believe that he did wrong and that he knows that I know he did wrong."

Venturi, the 1964 U.S. Open champion who spent 35 years as a golf analyst for CBS, declined an interview request Friday.

Doc Giffin, Palmer's longtime spokesman, said Palmer preferred not to comment.

Venturi contends in the book that Palmer took an illegal drop on the par-three 12th hole in the final round after his tee shot was embedded and a rules official had told Palmer he didn't get relief.

Palmer made double bogey playing the embedded ball, then returned to the location, took a drop and saved par.

Tournament officials told Palmer three holes later that he was entitled to relief and that the par would count. Palmer made an eagle on the 13th hole and went on to win by one shot over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins. Venturi, playing with Palmer in the final round, was two shots behind.

Venturi wrote Palmer decided to play a second ball only after he had made double bogey.

Venturi wrote that he confronted Palmer about playing a second ball: " 'You can't do that,' I told him. 'You have to declare a second before you hit your first one. Suppose you had chipped in with the other ball? Would you still be playing a second?' "

Venturi says he confronted Palmer again in the scoring tent, but Palmer contended he was playing by the rules.

Venturi said that Augusta National co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts told him years later that Palmer should not have received the favorable ruling. That cannot be confirmed because neither man is still alive.

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