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Original Issue

Kenny Vents

Venturi to pros: You owe Nelson

SOMEONE THROW a bucket of cold water on Ken Venturi. The Byron Nelson protégé hosted media day for the EDS Byron Nelson Classic last Thursday and used the bully pulpit to get a few things off his chest. "I looked at the list [of contestants] last year and I was surprised, quite frankly," Venturi said about the 2007 Nelson, the first edition of the event since its namesake died in September '06. "I thought there would be more [top-ranked players] to honor Byron. Don't come every year if you don't want, but come once to honor one of golf's great legends and to pay your respects.... Byron always told me to love the game and give back, and that's what these players should be doing." Venturi left little doubt about the root of the problem. "Back when I played, the goal was to win a couple of tournaments so you could get a club job," he declared. "Now they want to win a couple of times so they can buy the club." Venturi stopped short of quoting the price of bread when he was a kid, but he did go on to needle World Golf Hall of Fame voters. (He has been on the ballot every year since 1996.) "My career is all out there, I don't know what else I can do," he said. "They want to give it to me after I've died, but I'd just as soon have it when I'm alive." With one major and 13 other wins, Venturi is not likely to get the Hall call, but if he had spoken so freely during his 35 years in the booth for CBS, he might have already made it in as a broadcaster.

• THE RELEASE that the PGA of America sent out last week to announce the eight newest members of its board of directors gave some pause. Among the newcomers were former NBAer Junior Bridgeman (My Shot, page G14) and Rodney Loesch, head pro at the Connecticut Golf Club, who are charged with "...elevating the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf and ensuring accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere." One problem. Connecticut Golf Club, in Easton, is one of about two dozen clubs in the country that has an all-male membership. A PGA of America spokesman responds, "Board members are selected to represent the game and the profession at a national level, not facilities which employ them or at which they enjoy membership."

• LITTLE SURPRISE that Scott Dunlap, 44, won last week's Nationwide Panama Movistar Classic in Panama City. During his 23-year pro career the Pittsburgh native has never done much at home (winning only the Nationwide's '04 Mark Christopher Charity Classic), but he's excelled south of the border, with two W's in Argentina and three in Peru. Panama fits his résumé perfectly.... More south of the border news: Greg Norman, 52, has committed to play in the Mayakoba Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Feb. 21--24), where he designed the course at the El Camaleón Golf Club. Norman has also committed to next week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he'll team with his son, Gregory.

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