This Day in Hogan History:Ben’s 2nd Masters triumph
By: Mark Baron
On April 12, 1953 a 40 year old Ben Hogan shot a final round 69 to win the 1953 Masters Tournament by five strokes over Ed “Porky” Oliver. His four round total of 14 under par, 274 broke the tournament record that was set by Ralph Guldahl in 1939 by five strokes. Oliver shot a 279, which tied the previous all-time scoring record, but it simply wasn’t good enough against the nearly flawless Ben Hogan. The low scoring record stood for 12 years until 1965 when Jack Nicklaus shot a 271.
In the first round, Chick Harbert shot a four under par 68 to lead the tournament by one stroke over Ed “Porky” Oliver and Al Besselink. Hogan and Milton Marusie were tied for fourth, two strokes back. Sam Snead shot a 70 but his playing partner, Byron Nelson mistakenly wrote down a four on Snead’s card on the 18th hole instead of the birdie three he had shot. Snead signed the card without noticing and when the error was discovered it was ruled that his score had to go in the books the way the card showed. Some confusion arose at first over the two scores. Tournament officials thought at first Snead had violated the rules by signing a score card under which he had benefitted. “They ought to change that rule,” Snead said after the tournament officials allowed the 71 score to stand.
In the second round Hogan shot a 69 to lead the tournament by one stroke over Bob Hamilton and two over Chick Harbert and Ted Kroll. He hit the ball so well that he missed only one green in regulation. Hogan got his first birdie of the day on the fifth hole, followed by birdies on the sixth, eighth and ninth with deadly accurate iron shots. Ben bogied the eleventh hole by three putting. He made up for it on the thirteenth with a birdie after driving his ball in the trees. Hogan was complaining about his putting after the round: “I just haven’t played in enough long tournaments recently and I’m not putting well enough to win this one. And I get a little tired out. I guess I did hit the ball pretty well yesterday, not bad for an old man.”
In the third round Ben shot a 66, two strokes off the record set by Lloyd Mangrum in 1940. His 54 hole total of 205 set a new record by two strokes, bettering Byron Nelson’s 1942 mark. In spite of complaining about his putting as he did the previous day, Hogan had only two three-putt greens, despite the difficult pin locations and he took only 31 putts for the round. He was dropping putts from 20 and 30 feet and on the ninth green from 40 feet for a birdie.
Hogan led the tournament by four strokes at the start of the final round. The first groups played in heavy rains during the morning but an hour before Ben teed off on the first hole, as if by some divine intervention, the skies cleared up and most of his round was played in bright sunshine. Hall of Fame journalist Dan Jenkins remembers the skies were cloudy during the tournament week and produced occasional sprinkles. “But every time Ben walked onto the first tee, the sun came out.” Hogan played very deliberately on the final day partly because of the usual delays by the huge gallery. Even though he faltered a bit with bogeys on the sixth and eight holes, he was not worried and wrapped up the tournament by shooting a 33 on the second nine holes for a round of 69 to set a new tournament low score record of fourteen under par 274.
During the awards ceremony, Club President, Bob Jones announced that the prize money would be doubled all the way down the line. Hogan was awarded $4,000 for his victory. The Chairman of the Masters, Clifford Roberts said that he made millions of people “very very happy”. Hogan was quoted as saying “It was the best I ever played for 72 holes. I think I played my shots better – the way I wanted them – than ever before. I’m not talking about individual shots; I mean the whole rounded game.”
Fellow Texan and good friend, Byron Nelson told the press: “If Ben Hogan comes back and shoots the same caliber of golf he shot this year, he’ll be out there playing all by himself.”
In breaking the record, Hogan fulfilled his own pretournament prediction that a new one would be set if the weather remained good. The weather was good whenever Ben played, but two of the four days the early starters were soaked by rainstorms. 1953 Masters 1953 Masters 1953 Masters
The early rains, plus the new $7.50 admission charge for the final day held the number of patrons somewhat below last year’s figure. The charge had been raised from $5.00 in an admitted attempt to reduce the number of people at the course.
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