Within one remarkable 18-month span Ben Hogan won two Los Angeles Opens and the 1948 U.S. Open at Riviera Country Club. Ever since then the place has been known as Hogan's Alley. Except around Fort Worth, of course, where folks still insist Colonial Country Club is the real Hogan's Alley, based on the native Texan's five wins there. Corey Pavin may not be Ben Hogan, but he does a pretty good imitation, especially on the two courses that Hogan called home. His gutsy win at this year's Colonial was the latest evidence that Pavin is of the same stout constitution that made Hogan special.
"I got my butt waxed by Corey today," said Rocco Mediate, the loquacious third-round leader who faded to third place, "but that's cool because he is a true, true champion, a true winner and no doubt one of the best competitors in any professional sport."
Just as Hogan did in his day, Pavin calls the Colonial his favorite tournament on the Tour. He also won in Forth Worth in 1985 and has had two second-place finishes there. At Riviera the defending U.S. Open champ won back-to-back L.A. Opens, in 1994 and '95.
Pavin and Hogan share more than a flinty desire to win. "Obviously we're similar in size," the 5'9", 150-pound Pavin said after his latest win, "but what he and I really have in common is imagination on the golf course. We both like to hit different shapes of shots, and that's what you have to do on courses like Colonial and Riviera. I think he hit the ball more precisely than I do," Pavin added, smiling at the understatement, since Hogan was probably the greatest ball striker who ever lived. "That's O.K., because I chip and putt better than he did."
Pavin's ability to scramble was what won this brutal Colonial, which was played in 90° heat and 40-mph gusts that made the tree-lined course even more claustrophobic than usual and ceded only 11 subpar totals for the week. Pavin's 69-67-67-69-272 left him two in front of Jeff Sluman, and it put an exclamation point on what has been until now a sneaky good year. Pavin hasn't missed a cut in 10 tournaments and has finished in the top seven six times. He's now eighth on the money list.
Still, this was Pavin's first win on U.S. soil since last June's National Open. (He won in Taiwan and South Africa during the off-season.) "I was slightly concerned," Pavin says. "My goal every year is simple: to win the major championships and as many other tournaments as I can in between."
Then Pavin sounded a positively Hoganesque note. "Just because I won the Colonial doesn't mean I'm going to relax now," he said. "I'm going to go out there and try to win next week, too."