Ben Hogan choked. It sounds blasphemous, but it's true. After three rounds he was five shots behind Herman Keiser, an unheralded pro from Springfield, Mo. But Hogan made a charge and came to the 72nd green on the brink of victory. He had a downhill 12-footer for birdie and 281. Keiser was in at 282. Hogan's first putt never came close, and after he left the three-foot comebacker on the lip, it was hail Keiser, one of the unlikeliest Masters champions of all.
Hogan's A Hero
Ben Hogan redeemed himself. After nine futile attempts, he finally won a Masters, thus silencing speculation that he would never get one. Fueling the talk were two factors: Hogan was 38, and although he had won the U.S. Open the year before, questions about his condition following his near-fatal car accident in 1949 still persisted.
After three days, he was a shot behind Skee Riegel and Sam Snead, but the final round was all Hogan. He blazed out in 33 and came to 18 with a two-shot lead. He was not going to repeat the debacle of'46. Hogan put his approach short of the green—below the hole—then chipped up and tapped in for par and 68.
"I got a big bang out of it," said Hogan. "Having all those people out there rooting for you—and then being able to come through for them. If I never win again, I'll be satisfied."
Ken Venturi did not win a green jacket, but will be remembered for the sensation he caused before, during and after the tournament.
Some people grumbled that the 24-year-old Venturi, whose main accomplishment to that point had been making the 1953 Walker Cup team, didn't deserve an invitation. Venturi's boss at a car dealership, Ed Lowery, a member at Augusta National, and a friend, Byron Nelson, had lobbied for him. Once play began, it was clear that Venturi belonged. He opened with a 66 and took a four-shot lead into the final round, but nerves got him. He shot 80 and ended up second, a stroke behind Jackie Burke Jr.
Back home, Venturi claimed that he was given an "unfortunate" pairing on Sunday with Sam Snead. Later, in a letter to Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones, Venturi apologized.