On March 3, 1946 Ben Hogan shot a final round 68 for a four day total of 269 to win the St. Petersburg Open earning $2,000.00 at Clarke’s Sunset Golf Club in Florida, 5 strokes ahead of second place Sam Snead. Byron Nelson finished in fifth place, 8 strokes behind Ben.
By: Mark Baron
In the first round Ben shot a course record tying 64 to tie for the lead with Lloyd Mangrum, by two strokes over amateur Al Besselink. Hogan played steady golf. He was on the green in two on the par-five seventh hole for a birdie. He put his tee shot within three-feet of the cup on the short eight hole. His best shot of the day came on the ninth hole where he chipped in for an eagle. He sank 12-foot putts for birdie on the 14th and 15the holes and a 15-footer for birdie on the 18th. He missed birdies on the 13th and 16th hole when his putts caught the lip of the holes but failed to drop. Mangrum shot a Sunset Course nine-hole record on the inward nine with five birdies and four pars. Mangrum, a two time recipient of the Purple Heart fighting under George Patton during World War II had just returned home from the European Theater of War just two months prior. Before he returned to the states, he competed and won the ETO Golf Championship in Paris and the ETO Open at Biarritz. Byron Nelson and Sam Snead, the defending champion and winner of this event three of the four times he played there both shot a 68.
In the second round Ben shot a 67 to lead the tournament be two strokes over Lloyd Mangrum, Joe Kirkwood, Jr., and Vic Ghezzi. Ben was consistent from tee to green, but missed putts that could have given him another phenomenal score. He had birdies on the fourth, seventh, 15th and 16th holes.
Going into the final 36-holes played on Sunday, Hogan was two strokes in front of Vic Ghezzi, Mangrum and Joe Kirkwood, Jr. Hogan was paired with Mangrum and Ghezzi and shot a third round 70 and final round 68 and finished six strokes better than Ghezzi, who finished in third, seven strokes better than Kirkwood who finished in fourth and ten strokes better than Mangrum who finished T-6. Snead came back strong in the final round, shooting a 69 to finish in second. Ghezzi missed a four foot putt on the last hole that would have tied Snead for second.
Hogan sewed up the tournament on the outward nine during the final round, shooting a 31 that included birdies on the first two holes, a birdie on the fourth and a long putt on the fifth from the fringe. There were two par-five holes on the course, the seventh and the ninth, and Hogan played them in a total of 28 strokes, eight under par. He eagled the ninth in the first round and parred it in the second. The other six times he played the two holes he made birdies.
Frank Stranahan was low amateur with 281 and Mario Gonzales from Brazil was next with a 284.
Hogan, who won three tournaments already that year, was the leading money winner with $10,186.00, with Byron Nelson in second with $8,502.50. St. Petersburg St. Petersburg St. Petersburg