This Day in Hogan History: Ben wins the Nashville Invitational
By: Mark Baron – On September 3, 1945 Ben Hogan shot a final round 66 to win the Nashville Invitational at Richland Golf Club defeating Byron Nelson by four shots earning $2,666.66 in war bonds. Ben finished with a total score of 265, just two strokes off the tournament’s low record.
This was Ben’s second event in his return to full time golf after serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II. Nelson was vying for his thirteenth victory of the year, of which Ben played in only 2 of those events. After the tournament Ben was quoted as saying “I put an end to that nonsense”; referring to the nickname the press gave Byron during his win streak as “Mr. Golf”.
In the first round, Ben shot a seven under par 64 to take a two stroke lead over Herman Barron and Sam Snead. Hogan hit every green in regulation and could have shot a lower score, five of his missed birdie putts came within inches. Byron Nelson was three over par after two holes, but recovered by making birdies on four of the next five holes, but once again faltered making bogies on the ninth and tenth holes, finishing with a one under par 70.
In the second round, Ben shot a 67 to take a three stroke lead over Byron Nelson who shot a seven under par 64 to jump from 17th place to second.
In the third round Ben shot a three under par 68 giving him a two stroke lead going into the final round over Byron Nelson who shot a four under par 67. Sam Snead finished one stroke behind Nelson who shot a 67. Hogan’s only bogie of the round came at the par three final hole.
In the final round Ben shot a brilliant five under par 66 to win the tournament by four strokes over Byron Nelson, who shot a 68 and Johnny Bulla who shot a 65. Hogan’s round included two eagles, one on the 497 yard fourth hole and the other on the 511 yard thirteenth hole. He played the first nine in a three under par 34, taking one birdie, the eagle and six pars. He made a bogey on the twelfth hole but came back with another eagle and a birdie on the sixteenth for a two under par 32. Nelson knew going into the last hole that he needed to make something happen to catch Ben, dropped his tee shot on the par three hole into a sand trap. His bunker shot barely landed on the green. He putted his third shot 12 feet past the cup. Unnerved, Nelson missed the comeback putt to wind up with a double bogey five.
It was during this tournament that the Japanese Army signed the documents agreeing to unconditional surrender aboard the Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Pictured is a newspaper clipping of Ben Hogan, who had just returned to full time golf after his stint with the Army Air Corps, at his victory at the Nashville Invitational.
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