At the ceremony a misty-eyed Ben Crenshaw said, " Ben Hogan came the closest of any human being on this planet to making the golf ball respond the way he wanted when he hit it. When you think about what a giant in the game this man was, words become very feeble in trying to describe it."
Lanny Wadkins related a less emotional account of a match in which he bested Hogan at Shady Oaks, Hogan's club in Fort Worth. "We were playing for a little money to keep things interesting," said Wadkins, who got his winnings in a check. Rather than cash it, Wadkins kept it for posterity. Every month for the next year Hogan's secretary called wanting to know when Wadkins was going to cash the check. "I finally told her that I wasn't going to, that Ben would have a little more money in his account," Wadkins said.
Florida senior Chris Couch is one of the top collegiate golfers in the country, but that didn't matter to the USGA. When he filed his U.S. Open application form he failed to indicate his handicap or to check the appropriate box designating his status as amateur or professional.
"The entry was incomplete, and since there was no handicap filled in, we assumed he was a professional," says Larry Adamson, the USGA's director of championship administration, in explaining why Couch can only play in the Open this year if he declares himself to be a professional. "We get 1,000 entries each day, and no disrespect to him, but the name Chris Couch didn't ring a bell."
Perhaps it should have. At the age of 16 Couch competed in the 1990 Honda Classic. Later that year he won the PGA Junior Championship. In 1993 and 1994 he won the Florida State Amateur championship. In 1993 he made a four-foot putt on the final green to help Florida win the NCAA championship.
If he had entered the Open as a professional, Couch's amateur status would have been in jeopardy, and he would not have been able to compete in the NCAA championships this week at Ohio State, in Columbus.
"Evidently somebody in the family messed up when they sent it in," Adamson says. "It was one of those cases where they needed to take a little bit of time, and read the entry form more carefully."