U.S. Open: 10 most clutch shots of all time

Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports /
8 of 11

Embed from Getty Images

4. Ben Hogan-1950 U.S. Open, Merion, 18th hole

There may be no more iconic image in golf than Ben Hogan’s 1-iron on the final hole of the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion.

Ben Hogan had already won a U.S. Open, doing so in 1948, but following a life-threatening car accident the next February, nobody knew if he would ever return to competitive golf. Hogan spent two months in the hospital with multiple fractures and blood clots but incredibly returned to the golf course that November and nearly won his first tournament back on the PGA TOUR, losing an 18-hole playoff to Sam Snead at the Los Angeles Open in early 1950.

Hogan had made his U.S. Open debut at Merion in 1934 and returned to the suburban Philadelphia course 16 years later just 16 months removed from the accident. Lee Mackey opened the tournament with a blistering 6-under 64, leaving Hogan eight shots back after the first day. However, Mackey followed it up with an 81 to let the rest of the field back into it and Hogan trailed by just two after 36 holes, the same deficit he would face heading into the final round.

The entire field struggled to score well in the final round and George Fazio was the first in the clubhouse at +7. Hogan took the lead on the back nine but bogeys at 15 and 17 knocked him back down into a tie and not much momentum heading into the final hole. He had a long second shot at the difficult par-4 18th but he pulled out a 1-iron and knocked it right on the green, setting up a two-putt par to get into an 18-hole playoff with Fazio and Lloyd Mangrum. Hogan would shoot 1-under to win by four strokes.

The fact that Hogan was even able to compete at the 1950 U.S. Open is an incredible feat and coming up with that shot on the final hole was just icing on the cake. There’s a reason why the biggest stars in the game take pictures next to the plaque that sits in the spot where Hogan hit the shot every time a U.S. Open comes to Merion.

Ben Hogan would go on to win five more major championships following his win at Merion, including the U.S. Open in 1951 and 1953.