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ARNOLD PALMER HUGS WIFE WEARING MASTER GREEN JACKET - 1958 - VENTURI CLAIMS HE CHEATED

Ken Venturi's Claim that Arnold Palmer Made a Rules Breech to Win 1958 Masters

"Arnold Palmer was accused of failing to abide by the rules to win the Masters title in 1958. The accusation was made by Ken Venturi in his new autobiography, “Getting up & down: My 60 years in golf.” Ken Venturi, the 1964 US Open champion and former CBS golf analyst, insists that in 1958 Palmer knowingly broke the rules on his way to winning the first of his Master titles.

The near 50-year-old incident, during which Palmer played two balls after initially being denied relief and was eventually put in the clear by officials to count the par he scored with the second ball off a free drop, is not one of golf’s dark secrets. It was well documented at the time and has twice been referred to by Palmer in two of his own books. But Venturi has put a new slant on it by claiming that Palmer knowingly broke the rules in accepting that free drop. The incident happened at the par three 12th hole when Palmer hit his tee shot between the rear bunker and the green. After an on the spot official denied him relief from a lie he felt constituted an embedded ball, Palmer opted to play two balls pending a ruling from the tournament’s top rules official as allowed under rule 3-3a and after making a double bogey with the first ball, went on to score a par with the second one. Three holes later, officials reversed the original ruling not to allow a free drop, and said the par he had made with the second ball could stand. To the delight of his “Arnie’s Army, Palmer went on to win the event by a single shot from Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins. Venturi, who finished two shots behind him, is suggesting in his book that Palmer breached the rules because he did not decide to play the second ball until after he had made the five with the first. “You have to declare a second ball before you hit you first one,” Venturi writes. “Suppose you had chipped in with the first ball, would you still be playing a second?” he asks. According to the Venturi account, he confronted Palmer with his doubts about the legitimacy of accepting the free drop both during the round and again in the scorer’s tent at the end of the round. “You’re signing an incorrect card,” he claims he told Palmer. “No I’m not,” he says Palmer replied. “The ruling was made.” In digging up the mid-20th century controversy, Venturi claims he had the support of the great Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, the Augusta National co-founders who have been dead for more than a quarter of a century. “I firmly believe that Arnold did wrong,” said Venturi. “And that he knows that I know he did wrong.” Palmer, through a spokesman, has declined to comment."

Tom Meeks, senior director of rules and competition for the U.S. Golf Association, said Sunday that the 1958 rule (11-5) for playing two balls stipulated that if a player failed to announce his intentions ahead of time, the score he made with the second ball would count as his score. That was the heart of Venturi's argument. ``What if he had chipped in for birdie? He wouldn't play a second ball, would he?'' Venturi said. He said players were supposed to play the balls simultaneously; otherwise, they would get an idea of the speed and break of the green from playing the first ball to a conclusion. Meeks, however, said the rules did not require that. In an argument over semantics, Venturi said he was disturbed by headlines that used the word ``cheat.'' He said the only reference to golf's dirtiest word was in Palmer's book, ``Playing by the Rules.'' ``Going back to what my father always told me, when you're right, you don't have to explain anything to anybody,'' Venturi said. ``I don't have to justify my position to Arnold. It's the newspapers' place to say, 'Ken Venturi did not say that.'' Palmer declined to talk about Venturi's book when asked repeatedly about it last month at Bay Hill. ``I don't know a thing about it, I really don't,'' he said. ``And I'm not really too interested. That's my comment.''

Submitted by Kelly T.
 

ARNOLD PALMER HUGS WIFE WEARING MASTER GREEN JACKET - 1958 - VENTURI CLAIMS HE CHEATED






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