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Ben Hogan


Hogan went on to repeat his success in 1947 and 1948. "I've found the secret," he told one sportswriter in 1947, although he never told the sportswriter, or anyone else, what exactly that secret was. Hogan again lost at the majors in 1947, but in 1948 he won both the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open. On January 10, he was on the cover of Time magazine. Less than a month later, it looked as if his career was over.

Hogan and Valerie collided head-on with a Greyhound bus on bridge in rural Texas on February 2, 1949. Just before impact, Hogan threw himself across Valerie to try to protect her. It worked—Valerie suffered only scratches and bruises—and saved Hogan's life as well. The steering wheel of the Hogans' Cadillac shot into the passenger compartment and impaled the empty driver's seat, fracturing Hogan's left collarbone on the way, while the engine crushed Hogan's left leg, fractured his pelvis, and caused severe internal injuries. After two weeks in the hospital, he started developing life-threatening blood clots in his veins. Hogan was operated on by the best vascular surgeon in the country, who tied off the large vein that returns blood from the lower body. This prevented blood clots from reaching Hogan's lungs, where they were most dangerous, but it also hampered circulation to his legs, leading to problems walking that would last for the rest of his life.

Awards and Accomplishments

1940-42, 1946, 1948 Won Varden Trophy
1941, 1951 Ryder Cup (player)
1946 Professional Golfers' Association Tour
1947 Ryder Cup (player and captain)
1948 Professional Golfers' Association Championship
1948, 1950-51, 1953 U.S. Open
1948, 1950-51, 1953 Named Player of the Year
1949, 1967 Ryder Cup (captain)
1951, 1953 Masters
1953 British Open

Related Biography: Golfer Byron Nelson

Byron Nelson got his start in golf the same way that Ben Hogan did, working as a caddy at the Glen Garden Country Club. Nelson, born John Byron Nelson on February 4, 1912, was notable among the caddies for lacking their usual vices, most notably smoking, swearing, and fighting, and for his unusual level of skill at golf. Nelson just barely edged out Hogan in Glen Garden's caddy tournament in December of 1927. The next year, when the boys became too old to caddy, Nelson was honored with a junior membership in the club. This gave Nelson a competitive advantage over Hogan, since Nelson could enter the many members-only tournaments in which Hogan, who was relegated to public courses, could not compete.

After high school, Nelson originally took a job clerking for a railroad company, but when he was laid off because of the Depression he turned professional and tried to make a living at golf instead. For the next thirteen years, Nelson consistently out-golfed Hogan, although the two became close friends. Nelson's wife Louise and Valerie Hogan got along very well, often sitting together in the clubhouse while their husbands competed, and the Nelsons and the Hogans often caravanned together when touring.

Nelson took third in the first professional tournament he entered, in 1932, and was winning tournaments by 1935. His most spectacular season was 1945, when many but by no means all of the other top-level golfers were unable to compete because of the war. (Nelson, who had mild hemophilia, was considered medically unfit to serve.) That year Nelson won eleven straight PGA tour events, as well as seven others for a season total of eighteen. Both figures are records that still stand, as is Nelson's record of finishing in the money in 113 consecutive tournaments.

In 1946 Nelson retired from touring full-time and settled down back in Texas on the Fairway Ranch, which he bought with his winnings from the 1945 season and where he still makes his home.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsGolfBen Hogan - Growing Up, The Professional Tour, Chronology, Success, Disaster, Awards And Accomplishments, Related Biography: Golfer Byron Nelson - SELECTED WRITINGS BY HOGAN: