Hogan wins the Los Angeles Open
On January 13, 1942 Ben Hogan won the Los Angeles Open earning $3,500.00 (the largest paycheck he had earned to that date, by nearly a factor of three) at the Hillcrest Country Club birdieing the last hole in an 18-hole playoff with Jimmy Thomson to win by one.
In the first round, Horton Smith took the early lead with a four under par 68. He birdied the first three holes. Quoted “My score was good, and I’m glad I had it, but I’m afraid there might have been better golf played by some of the fellows who had 70’s or even 72’s.” Ben shot a two under par 70 to finish in a tie for fifth.
In the second round Bens shot another 70 to end up tied for the lead with Lighthorse Harry Cooper. Hogan parred every hole except the two par threes on the inward nine. He birdied the 12th hole with an eight foot putt and the 16th with a three foot putt.
In the third round Ben shot an even round 72 to finish in second, two strokes behind Lighthorse Harry Cooper who shot a two under 70.
In the fourth round Ben shot another two under par 70 to finish in a tie with Jimmy Thomson. When Ben teed off on the 16th hole he already knew that Thomson had shot a 282. To win he needed two birdies and a par on the three remaining holes. Hogan missed a birdie on the 16th when a downhill putt rolled 12 inches past the cup. On the 17th hole he putted past for his second par. In order for Ben to get in the playoff with Thomson, Ben needed to birdie the last hole. He hit a 300 yard drive on the 500 yard, par 5, 18th hole; hit his second shot with a 2-iron to 18 feet and two putted to tie. Snead could have tied for the playoff with a par on 18, but took a triple bogey 8, finishing in a tie for third, three strokes back and Byron Nelson finishes T-6, six strokes back.
In the Monday 18-hole playoff Ben shot an even par 72 to win by one stroke. Hogan was never behind in the match. Ben parred the first and Thomson bogied. At the turn Ben was up by two strokes and at one point was three shots ahead. Thomson kept plugging away tying up the match on the fourteenth hole when Ben three putted. They halved the next two holes with pars. On the seventeenth hole Hogan hooked his tee shot into a tree and the ball bounced into a spectator’s back, robbing him of a better lie, but his approach landed to within two feet of the hole while Thomson had a six footer. Thomson sank his birdie putt to halve the hole. Going into the 18th hole, they both were deadlocked. Hogan’s chip onto the green landed two feet from the cup. Thomson left himself a 17 footer and came up two inches short on his birdie putt, while Hogan calmly sank his. Going into the playoffs, Thomson was a two to one underdog, but did not play to that disadvantage.
Mark Baron is a Ben Hogan expert who posts daily about the legend. Check out Mark's huge following on the Ben Hogan Facebook Page and stay tuned for special Hogan anniversaries for Mark's insight. Check out the page here: www.facebook.com/benhogangolf