This Day in Hogan History: Ben wins his 2nd PGA Championship
By: Mark Baron – On May 26, 1948 Ben Hogan won the PGA Championship, his third professional major in his career, previously winning the 1942 wartime Hale American Open Championship (yes, we count this as a major win) and the 1946 PGA and earned $3,500.00 at the Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis, MO, by defeating Mike Turnesa 7 and 6 in a 36-hole match play event.
In order to play in the PGA Championship at that time, the players had to endure a 36-hole qualifying round, with the only exemption being the previous year’s winner, Jim Ferrier.
Ben’s won the 18-hole first round match against Jock Hutchison, Jr. (the son of the 1920 PGA Champion, Jock Hutchison), 1-up after going five extra holes.
In the 18-hole second round match, Ben played very well, shooting a 68, but still needed to rally to beat Johnny Palmer. With four holes to play Ben finished eagle, par, birdie, birdie to win 1-up.
In the 36-hole quarterfinal match Ben defeated Chick Harbert 2 and 1. Harbert was five down after 18 holes and tried to rally a comeback, closing the gap to 2 down. On the 35th hole Hogan closed out the match when Hogan stymied him causing Harbert to two-putt for a par 3. Jimmy Demaret defeated George Fazio 5 and 4 to move on to the semifinals against Hogan.
In the 36-hole semifinal match, Ben defeated his friend, Demaret 2 and 1 to earn the right to play Turnesa who defeated Claude Harmon, the 1948 Masters champion 1-up in a match that went 37 holes. Ben was never down in his match to Demaret, leading 3-up after 18 holes. However, Demaret did even the match in the closing stages which gave Ben cause to worry. But he rallied with game winning birdies on the 33rd and 34th holes.
In the 36-hole final match, Hogan registered an approximate medal score of 65 in the morning round for a 4-up lead over Turnesa and kept piling up birdies in the afternoon. He ran out the match on the 30th hole, winning three consecutive holes. Interestingly, Hogan was outdriven on nearly every hole, but used accuracy with his irons to defeat Turnesa.
The match came close to being the most one-sided in any PGA tournament final, the record being Paul Runyan’s 8 and 7 victory of Sam Snead in the 1938 final. In 1946 Ben defeated Ed “Porky” Oliver 6 and 4.
Silent and conservatively dressed, Ben chain smoked cigarettes as he played, was nine under par for Tuesday’s 30 holes and 35 under par for the 213 holes he played in six matches.
Turnesa, even in his loss, had probably the most spectacular shot of the day by holing a 150-yard eight iron for an eagle two on the 16th hole.
Hogan made it clear that he was unhappy with the length of the PGA, which included 12 rounds (216 holes) in seven days:
Wednesday and Thursday – 36-hole stroke play qualifier, 18 holes per day; defending champion Jim Ferrier and top 63 professionals advanced to match play.
Friday – first two rounds, 18 holes each
Saturday – third round – 36 holes
Sunday – quarterfinals – 36 holes
Monday – semifinals – 36 holes
Tuesday – final – 36 holes.
A true test of endurance. Hogan, along with Gene Sarazen and Lloyd Mangrum believed the qualifying rounds should be eliminated. Players surviving the sectional tests should begin match play immediately in the PGA. Ben was quoted: “This is the last time for me. I want to die an old man, not a young one. You have to finish first or second to make it worth the effort, and then you’re dead for weeks afterward.” Demaret added: “If you do win anything you’re too tired to collect it. I’ve spend more money here on massages and rubdowns than I’ll collect.” Little did Ben know that his words would ring prophetic as this would be his last time he competed in a match play PGA as he severely injured his legs in an automobile accident in 1949 and would not be able to walk that kind of distance in competition. Ben did return to play in the PGA three more times after it was converted to medal play in 1958. In 1960 at the age of 47 he missed the cut, in 1964 he finished in a tie for ninth and in 1965 he finished in a tie for 15th.
With the victory, Ben moved into second place in the race for total money earned in the year. His earnings of $13,897.50 passed Bobby Locke who had $11,768.33, but still trailed Lloyd Mangrum with $14,764.99.
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