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Miracle at Merion: The Inspiring Story of Ben Hogan's Amazing Comeback and Victory at the 1950 U.S. Open

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  • Posted October 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Must-Have For Golf Fans

    The world watched agog as Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open on the 91st hole while struggling with a fractured left knee. In the excitement of the moment, little was said about a similar feat of physical endurance and mental strength by Ben Hogan in his epic victory at the 1950 U.S. Open, otherwise known as The Miracle at Merion.

    Golf writer David Barrett, who has covered 25 U.S. Opens, presents a thorough and rounded account of Ben Hogan's comeback from a near-fatal car wreck to win the most coveted trophy in the sport. The astonishing story of how Hogan survived a head-on crash with a speeding Greyhound bus, fought through months of life-threatening surgery and painful therapy, then returned to the PGA Tour a year later has been told many times, but Barrett gives the reader both a wide view of the events and people surrounding the story as well as an incisive account of how Hogan the individual was changed by it.

    Of particular interest are Barrett's portraits of Hogan's compatriots. Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, and Cary Middlecoff are among the giants of the game with whom Hogan competed. Barrett shows the reader how their careers meshed with Hogan's and, even more importantly, he reveals them not just as golfers but as human beings--just like he does Ben Hogan.

    The book also gives a great look at the PGA Tour of Hogan's day. About the only thing today's tour has in common with Hogan's is the use of a little white ball and a four-and-a-quarter-inch hole. Among the many differences, of course, is money. Tiger Woods earned $1,350,000 for his victory in 2008; Hogan's check in 1950 was for a whopping $4,000. The Miracle at Merion brings both Hogan's historic win and the professional game of the era vibrantly to life.

    Barrett is first and foremost a journalist, which gives this book a gravitas lacking in many other books on the sport. He not only made extensive use of the USGA archives in Far Hills, NJ, but visited Merion Golf Club itself and conferred at length with the club historian John Capers and archivist Wayne Morrison. He also interviewed many people who were on hand at Merion in 1950 and checked and double-checked media reports of the day--finding several interesting contradictions. The result is a book that deserves a place in the bookcase of any serious student of golf.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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