This Day in Hogan History:
BEN WINS 1946 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP FOR HIS SECOND MAJOR
On August 25, 1946, Ben won the PGA Championship, his second major victory (of course we count the 1942 war time Hale America Open as his first), earning $3,500. At that time, the tournament was contested in match play format and he defeated Ed Oliver 6 and 4, to win. Hogan won the semi-final match against his friend, Jimmy Demaret 10 and 9, the 2nd largest margin of victory in PGA history. Oliver dispatched Hogan’s biggest rival at the time, Byron Nelson in the quarterfinals and Harold McSpaden in the semifinals. This was one of Ben’s first major tournaments he played since he was released from the Army Air Corps one year ago.
In the first round of the 36 hole qualifying round Hogan shot a 68 to finish in a two way tie for third along with Melvin (Chick) Harbert three shots behind the day’s low medalist, Ernest J. (Dutch) Harrison who shot a 65. Second low medalist came from Jimmy Hines with a 66. Byron Nelson shot a 70, but as the defending champion, he would automatically qualify.
In the second round of the 36 hole qualifying round Ben shot a 69 for a two round total of 137 to finish in third place. Jim Ferrier tied the course record with a nine under par 63 to finish at 134 to win medalist honors, along with setting PGA Championship record for shooting the lowest score in the 36 hole qualifying round, beating the record of 136 set by Fred Morrison in 1938. In all 63 golfers qualified including Byron Nelson, who automatically qualified as the defending champion, E. J. (Dutch) Harrison who finished as second low medalist, Sam Snead and Lloyd Mangrum barely qualified at 147.
In the first round of the match play Hogan defeated Chuck Weisner 2and 1. Lloyd Mangrum lost in the first round to Harry Bassler, 1-up for the round’s biggest upset. Other first round winners included Byron Nelson 8 and 7 against Frank Rodia and Sam Snead.
In the second round, Hogan defeated Bill Heinlein 4 and 3. Snead lost to George Schneiter 6 and 5, for the round’s biggest upset. Byron Nelson advanced by defeating Larry Lamberger 3 and 2.
In the third round, Hogan defeated Art Bell 5 and 4 even though Hogan was only one up at the end of the first 18 holes. Of all the golfers who remained for the quarterfinal matches not one was under the age of 30. The other golfers included Nelson, Harold “Jug” McSpaden, Jimmy Demaret, Ed “Porky” Oliver, Charles Congdon, Jim Turnesa and Frank Moore.
In the quarterfinal matches, Hogan defeated Frank Moore 5 and 4 even though, once again, he was one down after the first 18 holes. Hogan spent the hour break between rounds at the practice range working on his driver. He was six under par at the end of the day. Ed Oliver defeated the defending champion Byron Nelson 1 – up. Jimmy Demaret and Harold McSpaden were the other victors.
Both of the matches in the semifinals were lopsided victories. Hogan had one of the largest margins of victory in PGA history since 1923 when Walter Hagen defeated George McClean 12 and 11. Hogan’s victory was 10 and 9 over his good friend Jimmy Demaret. Ed Oliver had an easy win over Harold McSpaden 6 and 5. Ben was 11 under par for the 27 holes he played including two-under par first nine and five-under par second nine. Oliver was nine under after playing 31.
In the final over 7,500 people showed to watch Hogan, the lightest player in the field at 135 pounds, played against the heaviest, Ed “Porky” Oliver at 220 pounds, the newspapers described Ed Oliver as the “Colorful Fat Man From Chicago”, “Pudgy Porky” and “Heavyweight” and described Ben Hogan as the “Mighty Midget”, “Bantam Ben” and “Lithe Chocolate Soldier From Hershey”. Hogan was visibly upset at the practice range in the morning prior to the match starting, when he started pushing his irons and then slicing his woods – slamming his clubs down in disgust.
Ben had to overcome a three hole deficit with 17 holes to play and put on a stirring climax to one of the most exciting PGA Championships, by making birdies on three of the final five holes. On the final hole both competitors hit nearly identical tee shots. A flip of the coin gave Oliver the first shot and he hit the green 25 feet from the hole. Hogan, using an eight iron hit to the right, hole high, took a left angle backspin and nearly curled into the cup ending up a foot away. Oliver missed his try and conceded the championship.
Hogan visited the pressroom shortly after his shower and was quoted “I think Ed Oliver is a great player. He was certainly not up to his game today and I was playing a little over mine – and that’s the reason I won. Oliver will certainly win this tournament one of these days.”
The win increased Hogan’s tour leading money earnings to $33,377 with Byron Nelson in second place at $21,537.10. Other tournaments Ben had won that year included Phoenix Open, Texas Open, St. Petersburg Open, Miami Four-Ball (with Jimmy Demaret), Ft. Worth Open, Western Open, Goodall Round Robin and Winnipeg Open.
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