THE VIDEO ABOVE DOESN’T LIE.
Asked in the 1980s what was his most important victory, Ben Hogan didn’t hesitate for a second.
“Mhhhmmm,” he murmurs with a sound that might only be described as gravel. “The first tournament I ever won. The North & South Open at Pinehurst.”
When Hogan arrived in Pinehurst for the 1940 North & South Open, the story goes he had $30 in his pocket, four bald tires on his car and was very close to going back to Texas to be a club pro. He had toiled on the PGA Tour for seven-plus years without a victory, and was close to quitting professional golf.
Then came Pinehurst, and after two brilliant opening rounds of 66 and 67, Hogan held on to beat Sam Snead. “I won one just in time,” Hogan said at the trophy ceremony. Nine majors and 68 more professional wins – including two more North & South Opens – followed. He won The Masters in 1951 and 1953.
“I had finished second and third so many times I was beginning to think I was an also-ran. I needed that win. They’ve kidded me about practicing so much. I’d go out there before a round and practice, and when I was through I’d practice some more. Well, they can kid me all they want because it finally paid off. I know it’s what finally got me in the groove to win.”
We began the Before They Were Masters Countdown with our Honorable Mentions.