Hogans Win In 53 First Of Three Majors


Ben Hogan was 40 in 1953, three years after his near-fatal car wreck in West Texas in 1950. Many believed his best years were behind him. The Masters of 1953 provided a not-so-subtle reminder that it wasn't so.
Hogan hadn't had a very good year the year before. He had won just once, at the Colonial Invitational near his home in Fort Worth, Tex. He started his year in 1953 at the Masters after going first to his usual Seminole Country Club in South Florida to practice.
In the 1952 Masters, he had gone into the last round tied for the lead with Sam Snead. However, he was beaten badly, shooting a 79 and three-putting five greens. In the '52 U.S. Open he finished third after being in the lead the first two days. Hogan put together a pair of back-to-back 74s and that was all it took to open the door to Julius Boros. Hogan had won the Open in '50 and '51 and would win it again in '53.
In 1953, Hogan entered just six events. The first was the Masters. He shot a solid 70 in the first round, only two off the lead. He was not a very good putter, and sure enough he missed two short ones at the 17th and 18th.
He shot even better, a 69, in the next round Friday. This was while missing putts on Nos. 11, 15 and 16 of inside five feet.
In the third round, he hit it so close that he didn't have to worry about any short misses - though again he had some. He scored a 66, and that was despite missing three short birdie putts and three-putting twice. His three-round total of 205 was two strokes better than the previous record set by Byron Nelson.
Sunday was a laugher, Hogan shooting 69 and repelling the field by five shots. His total of 274 was a record at that time, five better than that set by Ralph Guldahl in 1939. Hogan called it the 'best I have ever played for 72 holes.'
Hogan would go on that year to win the U.S. Open and the British Open while playing in just five more events. The three majors in one year is matched only by Tiger Woods in 2000, though ironically Woods didn't win the Masters.
Hogan didn't win the PGA Championship in 1953, the lone major that eluded him. However, he didn't compete in the PGA. His British Open entry made it impossible for him to play in the PGA, since in those days those two tournaments conflicted with each other.
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