By: Mark Baron
On March 5, 1941 Ben Hogan teamed with Gene Sarazen during the final round to win the Miami Four Ball Tournament and earned $1,000 each. They defeated the team of Sam Snead and Ralph Guldahl 4 and 3.
In the first round Ben and Gene defeated Johnny Farrell and Willie Macfarlane 1-up. The results of the other matches were Billy Burke and Craig Wood, the defending champions defeated Denny Shute and Dutch Harrison 2-up. Ed “Porky’ Oliver and Clayton Heafner defeated Harry Cooper and Jimmy Thomson in 37 holes. Leonard Dodson and Willie Goggin defeated Jimmy Demaret and Lawson Little 2 and 1. Sam Snead and Ralph Guldahl defeated Jimmy Hines and Vic Ghezzi 7 and 6. Johnny Bulla and Lloyd Mangrum defeated Herny Picard and Johnny Revolta 6 and 5. Horton Smith and Paul Runyan defeated Martin Pose and Eduardo Blasi 1-up. Byron Nelson and Harold “Jug” McSpaden defeated Ky Laffoon and Frank Walsh 3 and 2.
In the second round Ben and Gene shot an opening nine of 32 and closed with a 34 for win over Leonard Dodson and Willie Goggin in 37 holes. Gene chipped in for eagle to win the match. In other matches Burke and Wood defeated Heafner and Leo Walper 3 and 2 (Oliver had to leave the tournament as he was required to report to the Wilmington Draft Board to begin his service in WWII and was replace with Walper). Snead and Guldahl defeated Mangrum and Bulla 3 and 2. Smith and Runyan defeated Nelson and McSpaden 38 holes.
In the third round Hogan and Sarazen defeated Craig Wood and Billy Burke, the defending champions, 2 and 1. In the other semifinal match Guldahl and Snead defeated Smith and Runyan 1-up.
The final match pitted Hogan and Sarazen vs. Snead and Guldahl. Sarazen’s philosophy was for him to play steady par golf while Hogan would take the chances, “I’m par. Hogan is the flag man. I’ll be steady and Ben will be going for the birdies. And if Hogan’s putts start dropping we’ll be around there in 59.” That is exactly what happened. It was on the third nine that Ben birdied every odd hole to give his team from a one up lead to four up and insure the victory on the final nine. Hogan birdied the first hole, but Snead tied him. Ben birdied the third hole with a 40-foot putt, the fifth with a 15-footer, the seventh with a seven footer and the ninth with a second shot that spun back to the cup, three feet away. Snead gave his team some hope by winning the 10th hole but that was the end of their comeback. Hogan played some of his best iron shots on the 13th and 14th holes. He had a good drive on the 445-yard 13th and stuck a seven-iron less than a foot from the pin, but was matched by Guldahl’s 18-foot birdie putt. On the 145-yard 14th hole, Ben hit his seven-iron three feet past the hole. Hogan and Sarazen were dormie-four on the 15th hole. Snead and Hogan were on the green some 15 feet from the pin in three, and Sarazen was over the green in back. With over 3,000 people watching Sarazen confidently stepped up, said to the caddy who was tending the pin, “Well, take it out, boy”, hit it crisply just far enough to land on the green and curled the balled down the slope into the hole to win the match.
It was 13 years previous that at age 26, Gene Sarazen teamed with Johnny Farrell to win this event. At that time Johnny Farrell was a young up-and-comer. In 1941 Ben was just 28 years old and at the threshold of his most extraordinary golfing career. Comparing the two victories, Gene said, “There’s no comparison. It’s far tougher to win now. The competition is much stiffer all the way through and scoring is much lower, so it is bound to be much harder to win holes.
Of Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen said, “The finest golfer in the game today is little Ben Hogan.”