Sports

US Open countdown: Best round of Hogan’s career nets him 1951 title

51st U.S. Open | June 14-16, 1951

Oakland Hills Country Club South Course, Birmingham, Mich.

Leaderboard

Ben Hogan, United States 76 - 73 - 71 - 67 287
Clayton Heafner, United States 72 - 75 - 73 - 69 289
Bobby Locke, South Africa 73 - 71 - 74 - 73 291
Julius Boros, United States 74 - 74 - 71 - 74 293
Lloyd Mangrum, United States 75 - 74 - 74 - 70 293

Hogan played so many splendid rounds during his professional career. None topped the one to close out defending his national-open crown in 1951.

On its own merit, this bunker-filled course played long (6,927 yards) and difficult. But this was the first year the USGA decided to alter some of the layout features, notably narrowing the fairways and growing the rough high and thick.

With all of its high scoring that year — nobody broke par in any of the first three rounds — Oakland Hills became known as “The Monster.”

But Hogan thrilled the big gallery with his aggressive shot-making, firing at pins in the final round. He had a short birdie putt on the seventh hole, and made the turn in even-par.

At No. 10, he hit one of his most memorable career shots — a 3-iron on the long par 3 that rested 2 feet from the pin for an easy birdie.

Hogan birdied the 13th, 15th and finishing holes — the last on a 15-foot putt.

“Under the circumstances, it was the greatest round of golf I ever played,” Hogan told reporters afterward.

Oddly, the day Hogan won his third career U.S. Open, and winning the $4,000 champions’ purse (the USGA doubled the winner’s prize the night before the tournament started), Hershey Country Club in Pennsylvania announced it was not renewing his contract as its head professional after 10 years.

Hogan became the first person to defend his U.S. Open title since Ralph Guldahl did in 1938. He also became the third man to win at least three U.S. Opens, joining Willie Anderson (1901, 1903-05) and Bobby Jones (1923, 1926, 1929-30).

That week, Hogan’s caddie was 13-year-old Dave Press, who made $350 — more than his father did for the entire year.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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