The interesting thing about Ben Hogan’s mysterious U.S. Open victory isn’t that it was his fifth title that he never gets credit for. The interesting thing is how the tournament was hidden in plain sight in 1942.
Considering it disrespectful to hold a U.S. Open while World War II was going on, the powers that be decided to hold basically the same tournament under a different name and include war funding in the event’s mission. They held qualifying just like a U.S. Open and handed Hogan the same gold-medal trophy he would have won for a U.S. Open.
Hogan is only credited with winning four U.S. Opens, however, which doesn’t really matter.
I’ve always felt, or sensed, that Hogan was the best golfer ever to play. I never saw him play, but in reading about him and watching some videos, I think he was better than Nicklaus or Tiger. Whether he won four or five Opens wouldn’t change his place in golf lore.
The notion of a tournament committee holding the same event under a different name fascinates me, because a simple change in language – in this case a tournament title – changes history. It serves as further proof that what is written in the history books, the numbers and letters, don’t necessarily tell the whole story. We can’t use statistics and such to quantify a person’s greatness. If you have a gut feeling that someone is great, they probably are.