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U.S. Open: 1964's Winner Looks Back At Congressional

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An old photo of Ken Venturi, who won the first U.S. Open held at Congressional Country Club in 1964, after playing two rounds on a 100-degree day.
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An old photo of Ken Venturi, who won the first U.S. Open held at Congressional Country Club in 1964, after playing two rounds on a 100-degree day.

Players had to play two rounds of golf -- that's 36 holes -- on the final day of the US Open in 1964. Typical of the weather for the D.C. area in June, it was very hot and very humid.

Ken Venturi remembers the triple-digit heat very well.

"I weighed 172 pounds, exactly what I weigh today," he says. "And when I got dressed and got ready to leave, I got on the scale I weighed 164 pounds. I lost 8 pounds that day."

What Venturi doesn't remember is much of his play. He won his only U.S. Open title that day, but he had to fight through severe dehydration to do it.

Three years earlier, he had been in a car accident that nearly ended his career. He fought his way back to play the game he always dreamed of as a child. Venturi's doctor approached him on that steamy final day at Congressional.

"I was laying next to my locker, and he said to me 'I suggest that you don't go out,'" Venturi remembers. "It could be fatal. I looked at him and said, 'It's better than the way I've been living.'"

The doctor walked with him as Venturi played the final 18 holes.

"I had 18 salt tablets. Today they say that could kill you, really," he says. "Coming from San Francisco, what did I know about heat?"

The only other time the U.S. Open was played at Congressional was in 1997, when Ernie Els took the title.

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