Hogan was back on the links to much amazement just 11 months after his near fatal wreck
On February 2nd, 1949 Ben Hogan and his wife Valerie ran into a dense fog on the way home from the Phoenix Open. With low visibility a Greyhound bus that was trying to pass in it’s opposite lane hit the Hogan’s head on crushing the vehicle. Miraculously, Hogan’s wife escaped with scrapes and bruises while he suffered a fractured pelvis, broken collar-bone and bruised ribs. Even though doctors would say he would make a full recovery, they didn’t know if he would be able to golf again.
“Don’t believe a word of it,” Valerie said. “Ben will be himself again, bones, nerves and all.”
Flash Forward 11 Months
Just 11 months after laying up in a hospital bed for weeks Hogan was back on the links competing in the PGA Tour again. They called him golf’s “mechanical man” when he returned to the season opening Los Angeles Open. Held at Riviera Country Club, he had already won the event in 1942, 1947, & 1948. A huge crowd showed up to see his return and despite his best efforts Hogan carded an opening round of 73. In his first tournament back, Hogan went all the way down to the wire. He eventually lost to Sam Snead who ended up winning in a playoff.
Without a doubt fatigue and delays were a major disadvantage to Hogan. Reports show that the tournament was delayed between the second and third rounds due to rain. The second and third rounds were a little more familiar and friendly to Hogan shooting a three straight 69’s. His iconic moment would be months later at the 1950 U.S Open at Merion. Where he hit his iconic “1 iron” photograph and won eventually the next day in a playoff.
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