Wednesday, October 29

Playing With Hogan: Fred Hawkins, Part 2

Fred Hawkins often practiced with the most feared player on the circuit—Ben Hogan. “I played a number of practice rounds with [Hogan],” Hawkins told me. “[H]e’d always ask me to come down to Fort Worth a couple of days early so he’d get a little competition [and] practice that way.” In the continuation of this series, you'll learn about Hawkins and his Hogan stories. Read Part 1.

Fred Hawkins and Ben Hogan
prior to their 1959 playoff.
FRED HAWKINS MADE HIS ONLY Ryder Cup appearance in 1957, a rare loss for the Americans during an era when they dominated the matches against Great Britain and Ireland.

“I’ve always felt that was one of the things I enjoyed the most,” he said.

That year, Hawkins was the only man on his side to win in singles, a 2 and 1 victory over Peter Alliss.

“The Ryder Cup in those years was played just two days. The first day was a 36-hole match of alternate shot and then the second day was 36 holes singles. That was all there was to it. In later years they put in more days of play and the better-ball events, too, which I think is a good improvement.

“In those days you could play either ball you wanted. I played the small ball over there [in Great Britain] because I could drive it so much farther. It sat down in the grass a little, and I like the way it putted, too.”

Hawkins missed out two years later when the matches were played at Eldorado Country Club in Palm Desert, California. “I would have been on the Ryder Cup team again in ‘59, I believe, if they had counted [the Colonial National Invitational Tournament] where Hogan beat me in the playoff,” he said.

“But at that time the tour officials were squabbling with the people at Colonial. It was not called an official tournament. Ryder Cup points didn’t count.”

* * *

Hawkins was on the losing end of what turned out to be Ben Hogan’s last PGA Tour victory and his fifth win in his hometown tournament at Colonial. It was the Hawk’s 64th title. He was 47. The two players were tied after the regulation 72 holes.

“It was an 18-hole playoff the next day,” Hawkins said, “and the wind blew about 40 miles per hour. He shot 69. I shot 73, which is a pretty good score. But he said it was the best round he ever played under those conditions.”

Colonial was one of the toughest tracks on the circuit at the time.

“It was always very narrow. It wasn’t all that long. You had to stay straight. Some of the greens were protected by trees on each side and so on. It required that you had to be very straight off the tee.”

TO BE CONTINUED.

Other Installments:
Playing With Hogan: Fred Hawkins, Part 1

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