On my birthday today in 1950, Ben Hogan won the Unted States Open in a three-way playoff. What made it almost miraculous was that Hogan had suffered multiple injuries sixteen months earlier when a Greyhound bus swerved out of its lane and hit Hogan's car head on. Hogan, attempting to shield his wife, Valerie, from the impact, went to the hospital with a broken collarbone, broken ankle, broken ribs and a double fracture of his pelvis. (Valerie escaped with minor injuries.) A blood clot in Hogan's leg required emergency measures; doctors tied off the surrounding veins to prevent the clot from reaching his heart. As a result, Hogan’s legs atrophied. Would he ever play a round of golf again? The more pressing question was whether he would ever walk again.
Yet here he was at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA, site also of last year's U. S. Open. Hogan defied the skeptics, playing four rounds of superb golf, walking from hole to hole unassisted. At the 72nd hole, he needed a par to tie Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio for the lead and join the pair in a June 11th playoff. Hogan's one-iron shot to the green, one of the great moments in golfing history, occasioned Hy Peskin's photograph, above, undoubtedly the sport's most famous. A year later Hollywood turned the inspiring tale into a movie, Follow the Sun, with Glenn Ford as Hogan and Anne Baxter as Valerie. Click here or here for more on Hogan's heroics. -- DL