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Byron Nelson was born February 4th, 1912 in Waxahachie, Texas. Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, along with Nelson, were all born within 7 months of each other in 1912. Interestingly enough, Nelson and Hogan caddied at the same country club growing up as kids, and Nelson beat Hogan by 1 shot over 9 holes during the annual Caddy Championship in 1926.
Throughout his career, Nelson won 52 times on the PGA Tour, including 5 majors. Although his 5 major wins are a big part of his outstanding resume, he is probably better known for winning 11 times in a row during the 1945 season. Nelson had a blood disorder that kept him out of service during the war....
On this day in 1969, major winner Retief Goosen was born. Retief is a native of South Africa, and spend over 250 weeks in the top 10 of the world rankings between 2001 and 2007. The highlights of his long career include 2 US Open wins (7 PGA Tour wins overall), 2 European Tour Order of Merit Titles, and 14 European Tour Wins.
1948 was a good year for Ben Hogan. He won 11 times on tour, collected the money title, the Player of The Year Award and the Vardon Trophy for low stroke average. In short Ben Hogan was the best golfer alive. On this day in 1949, however, he was nearly dead. The evening prior while traveling home between Van Horn and El Paso Texas in dense fog Hogan's car was struck head on by a Greyhound bus.
As Hogan's luck would have it a selfless act saved his life. Seeing that his car was about to be struck he flung his body across the seat to protect his wife Valerie from the impact. The act saved her and most of Ben Hogan. The steering column only caught his shoulder before impalng the drivers seat and the Cadillac engine that was now in his lap thankfully did not kill him. Near death for days, a radical blood clot removal surgery would save his life but the veins they borrowed from his legs, along with the broken bones in his ankles, shoulder and ribs made golf an unlikely possibility.
On this day in 1976, Judy Rankin catured the LPGA Burdine's Golf Invitational. Many of you know Judy from her role as a golf commentator today and so it is easy to forget that that she is both a World Golf and LGA Hall of Famer, winning 26 times on the LPGA Tour. Undoubtedly her greatest run began at the Burdine's on this day when she beat Pat Bradley by 3. Judy went on to capture 6 events in 1976 and another 5 in 1977. Although she never won a major her runs in '76 and '77 put the LPGA Money Title, the Vare Trophy, Player of The Year and the Golf Writers of America's Female Player of The Year Awards all into her hands in each of those years. Now that is golfing your balll!!!