[Ben] Hogan arose at 5:30 a.m. to prepare himself for his 9:30 a.m. tee time. By noon, cramps again viciously attacked his legs. The hobbled champion gamely played on, finishing with a 72 that left him 2 behind leader [Lloyd] Mangrum with 18 holes to go. When Mangrum and others fell back on the outward 9, Hogan took the lead. The pain in his legs had become so acute that his caddie took his ball out of the hole and playing partner Middlecoff marked his ball at times. On the 12th tee, Hogan reached out and grabbed an arm to keep from falling after hitting his drive.
"I thought he was going to collapse," Middlecoff said.
By the time he reached the 72nd hole, Hogan had surrendered his three-shot lead and needed a par on the challenging 448-yard finishing hole to get into a playoff with Mangrum and George Fazio. He hit a solid drive in the fairway but still faced a wood or long iron shot from a slight downhill lie to the 18th green. The fairway was lined by thousands of spectators as he reached for his 1-iron, a difficult club to play under the best of circumstances. The Hawk made perfect contact. Directly behind Hogan, Hy Peskin, who had set his camera on a spectator's shoulder, snapped one of golf's most famous photographs. As the masses craned their necks, Hogan's 1-iron shot rocketed through the air and landed safely on the distant green, stopping 40 feet left of the cup. He limped up the rise to the putting surface and surveyed his long putt. His first effort was too strong, leaving a nervous four-footer. He took little time and holed his par to tie Mangrum and Fazio.
|(Courtesy of Golf Channel)|
Hogan had completed what some considered to be the greatest comeback in the history of sports. A stone plaque in Merion's 18th fairway marks the spot where he struck the famous 1-iron shot. It was the last shot Hogan hit with the club, which, along with a pair of his shoes, was stolen moments after his playoff victory.