I can solve one mystery regarding Ben Hogan's secret: He didn't tell it to me. No player will ever know for sure if he has discovered what Hogan knew, but I have stumbled across something that I think is somewhere in the ballpark.
Hogan's secret is in the grip, that much I know. Several years ago I was practicing at Hogan's home course, Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth, when he approached me, stuck out his right index finger and said, "Take ahold of that." I did, and he grabbed my left hand, adjusted my grip and said, "Right there. That's where you want it." My grip wasn't perfect, but I was on the right track.
I have always gripped the club with a weak left hand, where the club runs diagonally across the top of the palm and the thumb points straight down the center of the shaft. About three months ago I moved the shaft an eighth of an inch toward the middle of my palm and made sure the club fit under the muscular pad in my hand, just as Hogan illustrates in his book, Ben Hogan's Five Lessons. The grip change really started to take effect while I was practicing on the driving range on the morning of the first round of last month's U.S. Senior Open. Suddenly I began to hit a controlled fade about 90% of the time as opposed to 10% of the time.
I don't think I would have won the Open without that fade. On the final hole of the tournament, I aimed down the left side of the fairway and swung as hard as I could. The ball started down the left side, faded about 15 yards to the middle and traveled 300 yards. With a two-shot lead and a lot of eyes watching, that drive was the best tee shot I had hit the entire week.
Throughout my career I've tried to emulate Ben Hogan. I don't know if I will ever find his secret, but I'll pursue it forever.