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These were the right things to say. They put IBC on the side of the angels. They were a refined echo of previous testimony by Billy Brown (Dominick Mordini), IBC matchmaker in New York, except that the less astute Billy had let slip Daly's good relations with Norris—so good that out of "courtesy" for Mr. Norris, Daly sometimes asked Norris's approval before he signed for a fight.
BEN HOGAN, 1955
The well-made little man in white trousers and cap and dark blue shirt stood with one foot in the sand trap, one on the grass near the 18th green. He was ringed by nearly 5,000 anxious spectators. His flat, boxer's face was expressionless as he studied the wide green expanses between himself and the pin bearing the red flag. Briskly his thick, powerful boxer's arms swished a wedge through the rough grass.
The crowd was quiet as all golf crowds are, but with a special quiet here. The little man had made his shot quickly, the ball lifting in a high, too-long trajectory past the pin and off the green on the far side. He trudged after it, his left leg slightly stiff with the suggestion of the limp he gets when he is tired. He chipped back toward the hole and the ball rolled four feet too far.
He missed his four-foot putt coming back for a bogey, tapped the ball in the cup and looked, still expressionless, down at the hole. Then he turned and marched off to the scorer's tent to turn in his card. As he left the green he grinned at someone in the crowd. He was relaxed and not unhappy.
This was Ben Hogan in the year 1955, finishing a 9-over-par 289 to wind up 11th in the Colonial Country Club Invitation Tournament at Fort Worth—a tournament that used to be considered Ben Hogan's own, since it was in Fort Worth that he started nearly 20 years ago and here that he was almost always sure to win in his great days. In those great days winning seemed almost as important to Ben Hogan as life itself, and he played every tournament with a concentration that shut out the crowd and the other golfers and left Ben alone with the ball and the cup and the problem of uniting the two.
At the peak of his career Hogan could concentrate so completely that he could drive a grievously broken body into performing miracles of golfing skill and power by simply ignoring its protests and playing as if he had never had his pelvis and one leg smashed. It seemed he could win any tournament if he wanted to badly enough. It was always Ben Hogan against the field.
Now the concentration which wrapped Hogan in solitude during his great rounds was diluted, and he could smile occasionally and trade words with friends. Being the man he is, he knows he can't do two things with the perfection he demands of himself, and Ben's major attention is presently focused on a new business enterprise through which he will launch a full arsenal of his own specially designed golf equipment. "I'm not playing serious golf any more," he explained after finishing that last round at the Colonial. "You lose some of your concentration when you quit the tournament circuit. My golf club business is a full-time job. I won't play in more than three or four tournaments a year any more."
A new generation of younger golfers is now fighting to occupy the Hogan pedestal. But lest they grow too cocky too soon, they should remember that Hogan will be in San Francisco in June for the last of his four 1955 appearances—the U.S. Open. The Colonial Invitational and last week's event at Greenbrier (where he finished sixth) simply rank as tune-ups for the Mighty Mite. He can still concentrate on the fairways when he has to, and Ben is not going to San Francisco just to enjoy the view of the bay.
AND NEVER THE TWAIN?