1953: Ben Hogan wins the Pan-American Open in Mexico City


This Day in Hogan history:

Hogan wins the Pan-American Open

By: Mark Baron

On May 3, 1953 Ben Hogan won the Pan-American Open in Mexico City. He shot 286 at the Club de Golf and finished three strokes in front of Dave Douglas and Fred Haas. Ben described the 7,436-yard course set in the mountains and lava badlands as “the finest course I have ever played.”

In the first round Ben had two bogies but also had two bogies for an even par round of 72.   The leaders were a 35-year old caddy, Margarito Martinez and Dave Douglas.

Hogan shot even par 72 in the second round, to finish in a tie for fourth, but could have saved several strokes if it wasn’t for erratic putting. Ben claimed he was distracted on many of the greens due to the noise made by movie cameras.

Hogan started the third round three strokes behind Douglas, but shot a 68 which included four birdies with no bogies to take a four shot lead heading into the final round.

His final round was a disappointing two over par, but it was good enough for the win.

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A fellow golfer, Lloyd Mangrum started a controversy and newspapers all over documented the whole flare up when he criticized Hogan for accepting a $5,000 appearance fee to play in the Pan-American Open, when as the defending champion he wasn’t paid a cent. Mangrum refused to play in the tournament because of this, even when the sponsors offered him a $1,000 appearance fee. Mangrum was quoted as saying “I don’t like it, don’t think it’s right. Hogan can get $5,000 or $50,000. More power to him. But they turn around after I’ve won the tournament and offer Hogan a guarantee. Nothing has caused Hogan and I to be any unfriendlier than we ever were. I’ve always been friendly with Ben until the past two years or so, but we haven’t had much to do with each other. But then, Hogan doesn’t have much to do with anyone. Ben’s never done anything to help his fellow pros.”

Ben responded in typical Hogan style, “I’m a free man living in a free country. I don’t like being told where I have to play and where I can’t play. If I have to take orders as to where I can or can’t play, I suppose I might as well go to Russia.”

Ignoring all the criticism, Hogan wins by three strokes and wins 30,000 Pesos, or about $2,600.

The PGA does not allow appearance fees, but for tournaments not sponsored by the PGA, appearance fees are standard operating procedure.

It was at this tournament that Gardner Dickinson, paired with Ben Hogan during the third round, shot a miserable 78 and became visibly depressed. A few weeks later at Colonial, Hogan handed Dickinson a slip of paper on which was written: “Don’t quit. This is my unlisted phone number. If you run out of money, let me know.” Another example of how much class Ben had.

 Fact: During this tournament Ernest Hemmingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “The Old Man and the Sea” and Dark Star won the Kentucky Derby.

Mark Baron

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

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