This Day in Hogan History – BEN WINS THE 1953 US OPEN
By: Mark Baron – On June 13, 1953 Ben Hogan shot a final round 71 to win the U.S. Open, his ninth major and fifth US Open (We, of course, count the 1942 US Open, aka the Hale America Open as his first) at Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania by six strokes over Sam Snead to earn $5,000.00.
In the first round Ben, playing with a coat of ointment and a heavy gray sweater to soothe his aching back, shot the tournament low score of 67 (–5) for a three stroke lead over amateur Frank Stranahan, Walter Burkemo and George Fazio.
In the second round Ben shot an even par 72 to lead the tournament by one shot with a total of 139. He started off strong with birdies on the first and second holes, hitting the 493-yard far five opening hole with his second shot and canning an eight-foot putt on the second. He went three-under par on the 544-yard fourth when his two wood second was just short of the green and he spun an eight iron three feet from the hole for another birdie. He lost one shot on the fifth when he trapped his tee shot and dropped another by three putting the short eight. He made another birdie on the 14th hole by sinking a 10 foot putt. He was two under par for the round going into the 16th hole, but bogied the hole by missing the green on the 234 yard par three hole, chipped 20 feet past and two putted for a bogey four. The approximately 6,000 fans lined the long 18th fairway as he came up short with his three iron approach shot. His chip was 20 feet short and he tiredly walked up the hill to the green to attempt his par putt, missing as the putt went two feet past the hole for a closing bogey, to complete an even round score. Sam Snead shot a second round score of 69 (-3), for a total score of 141, two strokes back and even with George Fazio.
On Saturday, the golfers played a double round to complete the tournament. Ben shot a 73 and 71 for a total of 283, shattering the course record of 294 by eleven strokes, set by Willie McFarland in 1934. In the morning round, Snead shot an even par 72 to trail Hogan by a single shot, and he tied Hogan at the third hole and had a two stroke lead at the fifth and seemed headed for a possible victory when his game went south. Over 12,000 people ran back and forth between the two golfers as they battled during the final round. With nine holes to go in the final round, Snead trailed Hogan by just one shot. Ben made three birdies on Oakmont’s back nine, including a 25-foot birdie putt at 13. Hogan came into the 17th hole one over par and smashed his drive 292 yards, leaving him with a 35-foot putt. He lagged his putt to within six inches and sank it for a birdie three. Hogan was quoted about his drive, “I hit it with everything I had.” On the final hole he hit his drive down the middle and poked a five iron five feet from the cup. He analyzed his putt for over a minute, dropped his half smoked cigarette on the green and hit his putt into the back of the cup for a closing birdie. Snead was on the 14th hole when Ben made his birdie on the final hole and limped home with a 76.
The opening round 67 Hogan shot and Snead’s second round 69 were the only sub-70 rounds by any players for the entire tournament.
After the round Ben hinted that this may be his last US Open tournament. Asked if he planned to play Baltusrol in 1954 Hogan replied: “I may not. I don’t want to say I’m retiring. I love golf. I want to play as long as I can. But I’m getting awfully tired. Someday there has to be a stopping point.” Later Ben added: “They keep asking me whether I’ll retire. I’ll tell you this. When I get so I can’t prepare for a tournament, then I’ll retire. I think preparation is very important for a championship tournament.”
Ben had won The Masters earlier in the year and he followed up his U.S. Open win with a victory at the British Open at Carnoustie a few weeks later. He became the first person to win three professional majors in a single season, a feat matched only by Tiger Woods in 2000. Hogan remains the only golfer in history to win the Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open in the same calendar year. He did not have the opportunity to play in the match-play PGA Championship that year as the mandatory qualifying rounds for the British Open were held at the same time the PGA was being contested.
This was Hogan’s fifth US Open title. That’s if you count the ’42 “wartime” National Open that he won at Chicago’s Ridgemoor Country Club.
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