GOLF: Venturi named Honoree of 2012 Open

Ernie Els peaks out from the bunker on the third hole Sunday

Ken Venturi, the 1964 U.S. Open champion and popular analyst on CBS, has been named Honoree of the 2012 Open at Cordevalle Oct. 10-14, tournament chairperson Kathy Kolder announced Tuesday.

A Bay Area native, Venturi grew up playing at Harding Park Golf Course, won three San Francisco City Championships (1950, 1953, 1956) and the California State Amateur Championship twice (1951, 1956). He played for San Jose State University and remains a loyal supporter of the golf program, according to a press release.

“I am delighted to return to the Bay Area for the Fry’s tournament at CordeValle, as the region has always been considered home to me,” stated Venturi, an honorary member at CordeValle, in the press release. “I have many fond memories of the area and look forward to seeing players compete and friends in the gallery. The thought of being a part of the Open which benefits so many deserving charities is heartwarming.”

In its six year history, the Open has awarded more than $4 million to charity, including $1 million to local beneficiaries last year.

Venturi’s U.S. Open victory at Congressional came on a sweltering, 36-hole final Saturday. The next year the USGA changed its format to one round per day, with a Sunday conclusion. He was named PGA Player of the Year and Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year.

Robert Trent Jones II (2010) and Roger Maltbie (2011) served as the previous two Open Honorees.

As one of five current Fall Series stops, The Open, which is slated to move to the front of the PGA Tour schedule in 2013, will make its third appearance at the San Martin course.

The tournament picked up steam last year, drawing big names such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera, Justin Leonard and 2010 champion Rocco Mediate.

Bryce Molder picked up his first PGA Tour victory at the 2011 Frys, outlasting Briny Baird in a six-hole playoff. In 2010, Mediate dazzled the local gallery with a stunning eagle on No. 17 that lifted him to his first Tour win in eight years.

Among some of the players to have already committed to playing the tournament in October are: Miguel Angel Cabrera, Ricky Barnes, Mike Weir, Lee Janzen, Fredrik Jacobson, Spencer Levin, Kevin Na, Kevin Chappell and defending champion Molder.