Ben Hogan came back from a terrible car crash and hopefully Tiger Woods can, too

Mac Engel
·4 min read

Tiger Woods called “Mr. Hogan’s” comeback the best in the history of sport, and now this generation’s greatest golfer will hopefully be able to do the same as The Hawk.

Not that we need any more bad news these days, Tiger sustained significant injuries in a one-car crash shortly after 7 a.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday near Los Angeles. He was the only person in the car.

According to his agent, Tiger was in surgery by late morning after rescue crews needed “the jaws of life” to extract the 45-year-old golfer from the wrecked car.

The images of the crash site are not good. The good news is that Tiger is alive.

This is not the first time Tiger has been involved in a high-profile car incident, but the circumstances surrounding this wreck appear to be very different than the first.

The first being in November of 2009 when he crashed his SUV near his house in Florida, after which his then wife used a golf club to “help” her husband get out of the car ... by smashing its rear window.

But that Tiger wreck is not this Tiger wreck.

We do not know the full extent of the injuries he sustained, but it’s safe to assume this will delay any upcoming PGA Tour appearances he might have had planned.

Hopefully, these injuries are not so catastrophic that they will end his career and dramatically alter his life. Hopefully, there is a chance that Tiger can follow a similar path set by Fort Worth’s own Ben Hogan.

None of Tiger’s previous comebacks — and he would admit this as well — whether due to his personal demons or injuries related to the game — quite compared to Hogan’s comeback, which began more than 60 years ago.

On Feb. 2, 1949, Ben and his wife, Valerie, were driving near Van Horn, Texas, on their way back to Fort Worth in foggy conditions when their car was hit head-on by a Greyhound bus.

Hogan reportedly stretched out across the seat to save Valerie. The left side of Hogan’s body was crushed. He sustained injuries to his pelvis, ankle, knee, ribs, collarbone and shoulder.

Hogan did not receive medical attention for 90 minutes, and then it took another two and a half hours before he was taken to a hospital in El Paso.

Some of his internal organs also sustained injuries, and his left eye would grow worse as a result of this crash.

The initial reports said Ben Hogan was dead. When the full details of the injury became known, the prevailing thought was that he would be lucky to walk again, and his career as a professional golfer was over.

He was 36.

Sixteen months after the crash, Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open at Merion near Philadelphia. He would have to play five rounds in four days, and it became known as the “Miracle at Merion.”

“I think that one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport is the gentleman who won here, Mr. Ben Hogan. I mean, he got hit by a bus and came back and won major championships,” Tiger Woods said at Augusta in the spring of 2018 about Hogan who won The Masters in 1951 and 1953.

“The pain he had to endure, the things he had to do just to play and just how hard it was for him to walk, and he ended up walking 36 holes [on the final day because of an 18-hole playoff] and winning a U.S. Open.”

Hogan needed Epsom salt baths between rounds, would wrap his legs in bandages, and would take the most mild form of pain relievers available at the time, aspirin.

In 1951, Hollywood, of course, capitalized with the movie Follow the Sun about Hogan’s life, career, and comeback.

Following the wreck, Ben Hogan won 12 tournaments, including six majors. He was to golf then what Tiger is today.

In May 1997, about six weeks after his first Masters win, Tiger made his only appearance at Colonial in Fort Worth. The visit was made, in part, to see Hogan, who died about two months later. Tiger has not played the course since.

Tiger Woods may have wanted to follow in Ben Hogan’s footsteps, but certainly not to this extreme.

Hopefully, he will get the chance to do as Mr. Hogan did — not only to play again, but to win again.