This Day in Hogan History:
BEN SETS PGA TOURNAMENT LOW SCORING RECORD TO WIN THE PORTLAND INVITATIONAL
By: Mark Baron – On September 30th, 1945 Ben Hogan set the PGA Tournament record for lowest four round aggregate score when he shot a 64 to win the Portland Invitational at the Portland Golf Club in Oregon, earning $2,600 in War Bonds ($2,000), 14 shots better than second place Byron Nelson, his biggest rival on tour at that time. Ben’s convincing victory over Byron prompted Ben to be quoted as saying,
“I GUESS THAT TAKES CARE OF THIS MR. GOLF BUSINESS”,
referring to the moniker the press gave to Byron Nelson of “Lord Byron” and “Mr. Golf” as he was setting the golf world on fire for number of victories in 1945. Ben took umbrage to the accolades Byron received during this time as most of Mr. Nelson’s victories were contested without Ben Hogan’s participation as he was serving a three-year stint in the Army Air Corps during WWII. This was only Hogan’s sixth competition after returning to full time golf a month prior in August, after a three-year hiatus. Ben obviously was highly motivated to win this event as he was quoted prior “I just about had it with this Mr. Golf business”
Ben’s score of 27 under par, 261, broke the low scoring record set by Byron Nelson who shot a 266 the previous week at Spokane Open on a par 72 course and beating the 23 under par, 263 Byron Nelson set in April earlier that year at the Atlanta Open.
In the first round, Ben shot a seven-under par, course record 65 to take a four stroke lead over Harold “Jug” McSpaden, Ray Mangrum and Harry Bassler. Byron Nelson and Sam Snead both shot 71’s.
In the second round, Ben shot three-under par 69 to maintain his four shot lead over Harold “Jug” McSpaden. Byron Nelson and Sam Snead again shot a pair of 71’s to fall back in a tie for fifth place, eight strokes behind.
In the third round, over 7,500 people showed up to watch Ben shoot a nine-under par, course record 63 to finish 10 strokes ahead of second place Harold “Jug” McSpaden. Hogan made six birdies for a 31 on the outward nine and five birdies for a 32 on the inward nine. His birdie on the 18th hole came despite two shots in the rough.
In the final round, Ben shot a 64 to set the low scoring record for a 72-hole tournament, a 27-under par 261. His score included four birdies on the outward nine for a score of 32 and five birdies on the inward 9 for a 32. He missed an eagle three on the 15th hole by two inches and a birdie four on the final hole by the same margin. His margin of victory was 14 strokes over second place Byron Nelson, 16 strokes over third place Harold “Jug” McSpaden and Sam Snead finished in fourth, 18 strokes back.
After the tournament, Ben took his 16-year old caddy, Rod Slade, to the side, said, “We did it, didn’t we?”, and proceeded to give him a $40 tip. The caddy later said that that handshake meant more to him than the money. He confided that Hogan was very thoughtful, buying him Cokes and chatting about the game from hole to hole.
Hogan returned to full time golf in the second half of 1945 and it was at this time that the Hogan / Nelson rivalry reached its pinnacle. Greg Gregston, a friend of both Messrs. Hogan and Nelson, when asked about the relationship between the two said, “There now was not much love lost between Nelson and Hogan. Their rivalry was too intense for the close friendship to survive. Nelson backers said Ben in action and word showed he resented the success Nelson had attained in the war years. Hogan backers explained that he was too combative to be a buddy to the man who stood between him and his goal.”
Nelson retired from full time competitive golf 10 months later in August of 1946 to fulfill his lifelong dream to become a cattle rancher. Portland Portland Portland
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