This Day in Hogan History: Ben Hogan wins the U.S. Open
By: Mark Baron – On June 12, 1948 Ben shot a final round 69 to win the U.S. Open, his fourth major and second U.S. Open title (We, of course, count the 1942 US Open, aka the Hale America Open as his first) at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles by two strokes over his friend Jimmy Demaret. Riviera became known as “Hogan’s Alley,” as it was his third win at that course in less than 18 months to earn $2,000.00.
In the first round, Ben Hogan shot a four under par 67, including a four under par 31 on the outward nine and an even par 36 on the inward nine, to tie for the lead with Lew Worsham. Sam Snead and Ken Rogers were tied for third, two strokes back.
In the second round Snead broke the 36 hole record by shooting a 69 to match his opening round for a total of 138, breaking the previous record by one stroke. Ben was one stroke back after shooting a one over par 71 for a halfway mark of 139. Hogan sank a 35 foot putt on the second hole for a birdie, but he was over the green on the seventh hole and three putted from there. He sank a ten foot birdie putt on the thirteenth hole, but could not make any further birdies.
On Saturday, when the golfers would play two rounds to complete the tournament, Ben shot a 68 and 69 for a four round of total of 276, breaking the US Open scoring record by five strokes (the record was held by Ralph Guldahl who shot 281 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham Michigan in 1937) and his three rounds in the 60s was a tournament first. The scoring record stood for 19 years, until 1967 when Jack Nicklaus beat it by one stroke. Sam Snead, the leader at the halfway point shot 73 -72 to finish with a 285, nine strokes back. Jimmy Demaret, playing his round an hour before Hogan, matched Ben’s scores of 68 and 69 to finish two strokes back. If not for Hogan’s great play, Demaret would have set the US Open scoring record.
Hogan started the afternoon round with a two stroke lead over Demaret and never gave his fellow Texan an opening. Ben birdied the first, missing a 15 footer for an eagle; made a 50 foot putt on the fifth for another birdie; missed a three-footer for a birdie on eight; sank a 15 foot putt on 10 for a birdie, and made a par on 17, missing a birdie putt by a fraction of an inch. His only bogie came on the fifteenth hole where he was in the rough at the edge of the green, coming up short with his 75 foot putt, and taking two more putts from there. On the long uphill par four 18th hole, Ben was on the green in two, and made a two putt, sinking a three footer for the title.
Ben, having won the PGA Championship earlier in the year was the first person since Gene Sarazen in 1922 to have won both the US Open and the PGA in the same year.
Hogan said that he would not limit his golfing schedule after winning this event and that he could not “afford” to confine his play to only the big events. He will be playing the Inverness Round Robin four-ball on June 24, partnering with the man he beat for the title, Jimmy Demaret.
It was during this tournament that Citation won the Triple Crown.
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