Fifty years ago Ben Hogan enjoyed a ride down Broadway celebrating his triumphant triple-crown year of 1953 - three majors entered, three trophies claimed. It was the second time he had received that particular honor, and the last time a golfer was treated to the most glorious ride in sports.
Hogan felt obligated to represent American golfers at the British Open and admitted to feeling enormous pressure. He was the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champion, but had to travel to Scotland for two qualifying rounds in order to earn a spot in the championship. R & A rules required that he play with the smaller British ball, and as he grew accustomed to its size, Hogan improved upon his score each day, culminating with a course-record final round, a day that he battled a 103-degree temperature.
In post-war Britain, food rations limited the menus and military target practice drove Hogan from the Carnoustie range early in the week to a private club down the road for better concentration. During afternoon practice rounds at the championship course, Hogan would occasionally lose his way in the unfamiliar surroundings and actually play from the forward tees. His solitary, focused excellence won the hearts of Scottish fans, whose only chance to see Hogans brilliance in the flesh came during that magical season, a half century ago.
While most of the golf world was buzzing about the Open Championship in England - and deservedly so, with Ben Curtis' stunning victory over a leaderboard that was packed with major championship winners - there was a PGA Tour event taking place stateside.
The B.C. Open in upstate New York played host to another surprising victory, with 50-year-old Craig Stadler taking home the prize for his second tournament win in a row, and enjoying every second of it.
The Champions Tour is always looking for a player that can win events and charm the crowds. It's evident that their newest member can do both, while still playing teacher to the younger set on occasion.
As I watched the Open Championship over the weekend, there were several times when I found myself about to adjust the color and tint levels of my television. No way a major championship layout should be the same hue as my Wilson A-2000 baseball glove purchased in 1974.
However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what we Americans see as lush and green and all things Augusta National, the Open Championship people see as un-Open Championship-like.
A first glance at Royal St. Georges screams barren. By the final round it was sun-baked to a golden brown, with table-top greens that wouldnt hold, and long , long weedy rough like the kind seen on another shore - the Jersey shore, where certain wiseguys disappear like Nike TW balls.
The point is, the Royal and Ancient people must like it that way - its their show and in a twisted way it made for wacky, unpredictable golf.
Eye of the beholder, people.
Same for the food - there are things on the menu in Scotland and England I wouldnt dare try, like haggis and blood pudding. But like Royal St. Georges, it meets with local approval.
I guess the layout for the 132nd Open Championship is an acquired taste - for that Im open minded. But I wont eat pancreas!
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