This Day in Hogan History:
Ben Conquer’s Colonial for a 5th time
By: Mark Baron
On May 4, 1959 Ben Hogan shot a one under par, 69, in an 18-hole playoff at the Colonial Invitational to defeat to Fred Hawkins by four strokes to win his last professional golf tournament. The Colonial Country Club was dubbed “Hogan’s Alley” as this was his fifth win at the venue (three of which were after his accident), ’46, ’47, ’52, ’53 and ’59. This victory was his 68th career victory, which included the following non-PGA sanctioned events: the 1942 US Open, 1948 Bing Crosby Pro-Am (team victory with amateur Johnny Dawson), 1950 Greenbrier Pro-Am, and the 1956 Canadian Cup (double victory: team and individual honors).
In the first round, Hogan shot a 69 to trail Lionel Hebert by two strokes. Hebert won the PGA Tournament in 1957, the last time it was contested in match play.
In the second round, Ben shot a three under par 67 to fall two strokes behind Lionel Hebert, who shot his second consecutive 67. Arnold Palmer shot a 74 to fall 13 strokes off of Herbert’s pace.
In the third round Ben shot a 77 to end up tied for third, three strokes behind Ted Kroll.
In the fourth round, Hogan and Hawkins were paired together and they put on a great show for the 12,000 plus fans at the tournament. Hogan started the round three strokes behind the leader Ted Kroll, while Hawkins started the round four strokes back. The conditions were so windy that only five players shot under par for the day. Hogan shot a two over par 72 and Hawkins shot one over 71. Ben could have won the tournament outright on the 18th hole, but missed a short 2 ½ foot putt.
Hawkins essentially lost the playoff on the fifth hole with a double bogey after hitting his ball into the creek then Ben ran up a four stroke lead by the seventh hole and played conservatively after that. Hogan shot a one under par 69 to Hawkins three over 73.
Hawkins was playing the new line of Ben Hogan clubs. “At first I thought it might be a repeat of that Jack Fleck match,” Hogan said. He said he was putting better than he had in five years, “The reason is because I am using my own stroke now instead of everybody else’s. You will get a little desperate when you’re putting bad and use other people’s ideas. I tried that and it didn’t work.”
Fact: It was during this tournament that Tommy Lee won the Kentucky Derby and Floyd Patterson KO’ed Brian London to retain his World Heavyweight Title.
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