Amateur dreams blown away in ’56

 Legendary Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Furman Bisher had a love affair with the Masters like no other sporting event. Bisher died March 18, 2012 at the age of 93 having covered 62 of the 75 Masters tournaments. In his honor, we’ll run excerpts of columns he wrote from previous Masters each day this week. Today, when amateur Ken Venturi’s chase fell short in 1956. 

They’ve been sitting around Augusta National Golf Club the past four days, waiting for Ken Venturi to blow himself into little pieces. They watched the scores post, the 40 on the board for the front nine Sunday afternoon and they smiled knowingly at each other. 

“This is it,” they said. “The kid’s gone. He had to blow. No amateur’s got the kind of stuff inside that wins the Masters.” 

Worse weather conditions never existed for a Masters. Everything but snow fell on Augusta. The wind was never so fierce. Venturi said he likes the wind. He may as well, or move across the bay from San Francisco to Oakland. 

Cary Middlecoff was chasing him at some point in the Sunday afternoon program. The absentee dentist had picked up all four strokes he needed to tie the kid Venturi. ... 

(Jack) Burke got down at the par four in 3. When Venturi reached the 17th he was putting for a bogey. Burke picked up two strokes. It was kind of like two years ago when Billy Joe Patton lit a skyrocket for the amateurs. He came home second. ... But Patton finished in a real fight for it. He had an ace on the final day. For Venturi, the balloon had gone up. There must have been a chunk in the kid’s throat the size of a goiter as he came down 18 needing a birdie. He needed a 50-foot putt to make it. It must have looked 45 miles long. He didn’t make it. He wasn’t supposed to.

The great golf chase was over.

> READ MORE of Furman Bisher’s best and most beloved columns

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