This Day in Hogan History: Hogan & Snead win big in England
By: Mark Baron – From June 24 – 26, 1956 Ben Hogan and Sam Snead teamed together in what may have been America’s first Dream Team to win the International Trophy and Canada Cup Matches at the Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey England, an event that is still being contested today known as the World Cup. The Hogan/Snead team finished 14 strokes ahead of the second place team, from South Africa, Bobby Locke and a 20 year old Gary Player. Ben won the individual title by 5 strokes over Roberto DeVicenzo. Even though the British Open was held the very next week, neither Ben nor Sam played the event. Snead claimed an injury and Hogan never entered.
In the first round Ben shot his way through a frenzied crowd of over 20,000 who came out to watch the legend in his first round of golf in England. He shot a three under par on Wentworth Club’s “Burma Road” course. He had a brilliant 31 on the outward nine, which included sinking a 30-yard chip on the first hole. The more birdies Ben made, the more people came over to watch. When he got another birdie two on the 10th hole, the crowd was edging towards 20,000. He hit a tree with his tee shot on the 11th and took a six, proving to the Englanders that he is human, but the huge crowd never left him despite a much cooler brand of golf on the home nine.
After the round Hogan said: That crowd – I don’t mind a lot of people but I never saw anything like that but once before. That was at Carnoustie (in 1953, in Scotland, when he won the British Open). That sort of crowd discourages people from watching golf.” He was asked if the big turnout discouraged him, to which he replied “No.” Dozens of times the usually staid and well-mannered English broke through the rope barriers and disregarded orders and pleas by the 400 stewards. Hundreds of them climbed trees around the course and a few fell from the upper branches. The Englanders adopted a name for Hogan – “Oh Rare Ben Hogan” similar to the Scottish nicknaming him the “Wee Ice Mon.”
Snead, his playing partner, shot a 76 due to a sharp pain in his right hand, but their team aggregate score of 144 was good enough for a two stroke lead over the Australian team of Peter Thompson and Norman Van Nida.
In the second round Stan Leonard of Canada shot a 67 to take the lead in the individual competition by one stroke over Hogan. Leonard’s playing partner, Al Balding shot a 72 that put Canada into a three stroke lead over the United States as Hogan and Snead shot 69 and 73. Over 8,000 people came out to watch slowing the pace of play. Hogan said: “I’ve been in golf for 30 years but I never took five hours to play 18 holes before.”
In the third round Hogan shot a one over par 72 to slip back to third place, two strokes behind Stan Leonard who shot a 71. Roberto De Vicenzo moved into second place, a stroke behind with a round of 67. In the team competition, Canada’s Stan Leonard and Al Balding led with 428. The Americans were second with 431 and South Africa, with Bobby Locke and Gary Player were third with 435.
In the fourth round both Hogan and Snead shot 68’s to give the two most famous American golfers the Canada Cup for national teams with a 567 score. In the team competition, the leaders going into the final round, Stan Leonard and Al Balding out of Canada shot 79 and 76 respectively to finish in third place by 16 strokes. The South Africans, Bobby Locke and Gary Player shot 70 and 76, respectively to finish a distant second, 14 strokes back.
Ben won the International Championship for individual play by five strokes over Roberto De Vicenzo, who was playing out of Mexico. Stan Leonard had a two stroke advantage heading into the final round, but shot a 79. De Vicenzo started with a one stroke advantage over Hogan, but shot a 74.
The shot of the tournament was made by Hogan on the fourth hole in the last round. He had just taken the lead from Leonard, but Hogan’s second shot on the 505-yard par 5 fourth hole went into a bunker 60 feet from the pin. Just as he did three years ago at Carnoustie when he won the British Open he holed out the shot, this time for an eagle three. He gave a wink and a big grin to a group of newspaper reporters near the green.
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