1950 US Open: Hogan's Triumphant Return

Ben Hogan's famous 1-iron shot at Merion in the 1950 US Open golf tournament
A framed print of the famous Ben Hogan 1-iron shot on the 72nd hole of the 1950 US Open. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Sixteen months after an automobile accident that nearly killed him and left him with lifelong problems, Ben Hogan won in his return to the U.S. Open in what some call "the miracle at Merion."

In February of 1949, Hogan and his wife survived a head-on collision with a bus. Hogan had numerous broken bones and suffered blood clots and spent two months in the hospital. He was originally told by doctors he would never play golf again. He suffered circulatory problems and pain in his legs for the rest of his life, and those issues greatly curtailed his ability to play many tournaments.

But Hogan made his return to the winner's circle at Merion Golf Club in the 1950 U.S. Open. Despite major pain his legs, despite having to play the third and fourth rounds in one day (U.S. Opens were played over three days, rather than four, at the time), despite then having to play another 18 in a playoff. Hogan won that 18-hole, 3-way playoff, earning his second victory in the tournament. For Hogan, it was his 54th career PGA Tour win and the fourth of his nine career wins in major championships.

In the playoff, Hogan shot 69 to Lloyd Mangrum's 73 and George Fazio's 75. Mangrum was the 1946 U.S. Open winner who went on to post 36 career wins and enter the World Golf Hall of Fame. Fazio had only two wins prior to this, and none after, but did finish in the Top 5 in the U.S. Open three of four years from 1950-53. Fazio went on to larger fame as a golf course designer, a career also chosen by several following family members (including Tom Fazio, his nephew).

Mangrum had a 2-stroke lead over Hogan following the third round, and a 6-stroke margin over Fazio. But Fazio posted 287 with a final-round 70, while Mangrum struggled to a 76 to match Fazio. Hogan's 74 wasn't his best - he missed opportunities down the stretch, including missing a 2 1/2-foot putt on the 15th hole, and a bogey on the 17th - but it was good enough to get into the playoff.

Hogan secured his spot in the playoff with one of his most famous shots - one of the most famous shots in golf history, thanks to the iconic photograph of Hogan hitting it. Hogan needed to par the final hole to get into the playoff, and he striped a 1-iron from the fairway onto the green on the very tough closing hole at Merion. (Today there is a plaque in the fairway at the spot from which that 1-iron was struck.) Hogan then 2-putted for the needed par.

Today, photos, prints and posters of that famous photo are still popular collectibles with golfers. You can find it offered in many golf shops, art and poster shops, and many places online, for example:

The playoff came down to Hogan and Mangrum - and a rules issue. Hogan led by one over Mangrum (with Fazio further back) through 15 holes. But as Mangrum prepared to putt, an insect landed on his ball. Mangrum marked, picked up the ball and blew the bug off. According to the USGA's history, that was "an act not permitted by the Rules of Golf until 1960." Mangrum incurred a 2-stroke penalty, and Hogan wound up winning the playoff by four.

The 1950 U.S. Open is also notable for the first round of 64 in tournament history. It was posted by Lee Mackey Jr. in the first round. Unfortunately for Mackey, he followed it with a second-round 81 and wound up finishing tied for 25th. Mackey's 64 wouldn't be bettered in this tournament (or any of the other majors) until Johnny Miller's closing 63 at the 1973 U.S. Open.

Tommy Armour played in his final U.S. Open - his final major - at this event, shooting 75-75 and missing the cut.

1950 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 1950 U.S. Open golf tournament played at the par-70 East Course of Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. (x-won playoff; a-amateur):

x-Ben Hogan 72-69-72-74--287 $4,000
Lloyd Mangrum 72-70-69-76--287 $2,500
George Fazio 73-72-72-70--287 $1,000
Dutch Harrison 72-67-73-76--288 $800
Jim Ferrier 71-69-74-75--289 $500
Joe Kirkwood Jr. 71-74-74-70--289 $500
Henry Ransom 72-71-73-73--289 $500
Bill Nary 73-70-74-73--290 $350
Julius Boros 68-72-77-74--291 $300
Cary Middlecoff 71-71-71-79--292 $225
Johnny Palmer 73-70-70-79--292 $225
Al Besselink 71-72-76-75--294 $133
Johnny Bulla 74-66-78-76--294 $133
Dick Mayer 73-76-73-72--294 $133
Henry Picard 71-71-79-73--294 $133
Skee Riegel 73-69-79-73--294 $133
Sam Snead 73-75-72-74--294 $133
Skip Alexander 68-74-77-76--295 $100
Fred Haas 73-74-76-72--295 $100
Jimmy Demaret 72-77-71-76--296 $100
Marty Furgol 75-71-72-78--296 $100
Dick Metz 76-71-71-78--296 $100
Bob Toski 73-69-80-74--296 $100
Harold Williams 69-75-75-77--296 $100
Bobby Cruickshank 72-77-76-72--297 $100
Ted Kroll 75-72-78-72--297 $100
Lee Mackey Jr. 64-81-75-77--297 $100
Paul Runyan 76-73-73-75--297 $100
Pete Cooper 75-72-76-75--298 $100
Henry Williams Jr. 69-76-76-77--298 $100
John Barnum 71-75-78-75--299 $100
Denny Shute 71-73-76-79--299 $100
Buck White 77-71-77-74--299 $100
Terl Johnson 72-77-74-77--300 $100
Herschel Spears 75-72-75-78--300 $100
Walter Burkemo 72-77-74-78--301 $100
Dave Douglas 72-76-79-74--301 $100
Claude Harmon 71-74-77-80--302 $100
a-James McHale Jr. 75-73-80-74--302
Gene Sarazen 72-72-82-76--302 $100
Jim Turnesa 74-71-78-79--302 $100
Art Bell 72-77-78-76--303 $100
Patrick Abbott 71-77-76-80--304 $100
Joe Thacker 75-69-83-77--304 $100
Johnny Morris 74-74-80-77--305 $100
Loddie Kempa 71-74-78-83--306 $100
a-Frank Stranahan 79-70-79-78--306
Gene Webb 75-74-82-75--306 $100
a-P.J. Boatwright 75-74-79-79--307
George Bolesta 77-72-84-78--311 $100
John O'Donnell 76-72-83-85--316 $100