Hogan was Texas tough
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Remarkable Hogan wins '50 U.S. Open
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
June 11, 1950 - Just 16 months after being involved in an auto accident that almost took his life and had doctors questioning whether he would ever walk again -- much less play golf -- Hogan was on the threshold of winning the U.S. Open. It was only his seventh tournament since his brush with death.
He could have won yesterday at the Merion Golf Club, outside Philadelphia, needing only to play the final four holes in one-over par. But wearied by having to play 36 holes in one day for the first time since the accident, he bogied 15 and 17. However, he recovered to nail a historic 1-iron shot over a grassed-over quarry to reach the par-four, 448-yard 18th green in two. He parred the hole to forge today's three-way playoff.
Rejuvenated by two baths and a good night's sleep, Hogan shot a one-under par 69 to finish four strokes ahead of Lloyd Mangrum and six ahead of George Fazio. His victory was made easier when, leading by just one stroke, Mangrum was penalized two strokes for picking up and blowing a bug off his ball on the 16th green.
Hogan's putting, which had been inconsistent in his shooting a seven-over-par 287 in the tournament's first four rounds, was solid. Though he made only one putt longer than seven feet -- a 50-footer for a birdie two on 17 that sealed his triumph -- he didn't three-putt.
It was the Hawk's second U.S. Open championship. He had won his first in 1948, but was unable to defend his title in 1949 because he was convalescing from the accident. Today, he showed that he was back as the world's greatest golfer.
Hogan by the numbers
|Grand Slam Wins|
||6 & 4
||7 & 6
||Oakland Hills CC
Odds 'n' Ends
Hogan dropped out of high school in 1929 to turn pro, playing mostly in local events in Texas.
He earned $8.50 for finishing 38th in his first tournament on the PGA Tour, the Los Angles Open, in 1932. He was off the tour by midseason because he was broke.
He married Valerie Fox, his childhood sweetheart, in April 1935.
He qualified for his first U.S. Open in 1936, but missed the 36-hole cut at the Baltusrol Country Club in Springfield, N.J.
Hogan's first individual victory came at the North and South Championship at Pinehurst's famous No. 2 course in 1940. He shot an 11-under-par 277 to beat Sam Snead by three strokes. Within the next 10 days, Hogan won two more tournaments, the Greensboro Open and the Land of the Sky Tournament. In the 12 rounds during the three tournaments, he shot in the 60s 10 times.
In 1943, Hogan was drafted and joined the U.S. Army on March 25. He rose to the rank of second lieutenant.
Hogan won 13 events on the PGA tour in 1946, his first full year back after the war.
Before his accident on Feb. 2, 1949, Hogan had won 11 of his previous 16 tournaments.
"Follow the Sun," a movie of Hogan's comeback, starred Glenn Ford as Hogan and Anne Baxter as Valerie. Hogan was the technical advisor for the film, which made its world premiere in March 1951 in Fort Worth.
Many consider Hogan's finest round the 67 he shot on the final 18 holes in winning the 1951 U.S. Open at the par-70, 6,927-yard Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Mich. There was only one other subpar round during the four rounds, and the course played to an average score of 77. "I'm glad I brought this course - this monster - to its knee," said Hogan, who won by two strokes with a 287.
In 1953, when Hogan became the only golfer to win three pro majors, it was physically impossible for him to try for the Grand Slam. The last two days of the PGA Championship were held the same days that Hogan was qualifying for the British Open.
Hogan was Player of the Year four times (1948, '50, '51 and '53). Five times (1940, '41, '42, '46 and '48) he won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average and was the tour's money leader.
Hogan's last competitive round was played in May 1971 at the Champions Golf Club in Houston.
In 292 career tournaments, Hogan finished in the top three a remarkable 139 times (47.6 percent) and was in the top ten 241 times (82.5 percent).
Six years after the Ben Hogan Company went into operation, he sold it in 1960. He stayed on as president and worked on product development into the early 1990s.
By the 1980s, the golf company fell into decline, but it rebounded after Hogan did a TV commercial in March 1987. In the next 12 months, company sales rose from $50 million to $70 million and profits were $2.5 million. Yearly sales figures were almost $100 million in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but by 1997 they were down to the $15-million level.
In 1995, a seven-foot bronze statue of Hogan was unveiled at the Colonial Country Club in Forth Worth, where he won five times. His last PGA victory was there in 1959, when he won an 18-hole playoff. He was 46.
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