The 1953 Open Championship was the 82nd Open Championship, held 8–10 July at the Carnoustie Golf Links in Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland. In his only Open Championship appearance, Ben Hogan prevailed by four strokes over four runners-up to win his third major championship of the year.
The total prize money was increased from £1,700 to £2,500. The winner received £500 with £300 for second, £200 for third, £100 for fourth, £75 for fifth, £30 for next 20 and then £25 each for the remaining players. There was also a £15 prize for winning the qualification event and four £15 prizes for the lowest score in each round. The purse of £2,500 ($7,000) and the winner's share of £500 ($1,400), were less than one-third that of the U.S. Open or PGA Championship in 1953.
Qualifying took place on 6–7 July. Entries played 18 holes on the Championship and Burnside courses. The number of qualifiers was limited to a maximum of 100. Ties for 100th place would not qualify. The qualifying score was 154 and 91 players qualified. On the first day John Panton led the qualifiers on the Championship course after a 69 while Bobby Locke scored 65 on the Burnside course. Locke's scored 71 on the second day and a total of 136 put him five shots ahead of the rest. Panton and Christy O'Connor were next on 141. Hogan qualified comfortably on 145. Peter Thomson, the 1952 runner-up, only just qualified on 154 after taking 80 on the Championship course. A maximum of 50 players could make the cut after 36 holes. Ties for 50th place did not make the cut.
Hogan, with the Masters and U.S. Open titles, made the trip across the Atlantic for the Open Championship for the very first time. He arrived at Carnoustie two weeks early to practice with the smaller British golf ball.
The policy of requiring all players to qualify, the small purse, the lengthy ocean-voyage, and the conflict of schedule with the PGA Championship kept all but a few Americans at home; only four qualified for the first round on Wednesday and three made the 36-hole cut to play the final two rounds on Friday.
Although the field of 91 that qualified was mostly British, a strong international contingent stood ready to challenge Hogan, including fellow Americans Lloyd Mangrum and Frank Stranahan, Australian Peter Thomson, Antonio Cerdá and Roberto De Vicenzo of Argentina, and South Africa's Bobby Locke, the defending champion.
The Open Championship was Hogan's third major title of the year, but the modern Grand Slam was not possible, as the PGA Championship conflicted with the Open in 1953; the final match (36 holes) of the seven-day PGA Championship was played near Detroit on Tuesday, 7 July. After his automobile accident in 1949, Hogan did not enter the PGA Championship until 1960, after it became a stroke play event. He had won the PGA Championship in 1946 and 1948 before the accident.
Hogan did not play in another Open Championship, although he did make a lasting impression on Carnoustie. The par-5 6th hole features a split fairway, with the right side being safer but the left offering a better angle to the green. Hogan found the narrow left side in each of the four rounds, and that hole is now known as "Hogan's Alley."
Hogan remains the only player to win the Masters, U.S. Open, and Open Championship in the same calendar year. After winning the first two majors of the year, Arnold Palmer, (1960) Jack Nicklaus, (1972) were runners-up by a stroke at the Open Championship. Jordan Spieth missed a three-man playoff by one stroke in (2015) after winning the Masters and U.S. Open earlier that season. Tiger Woods won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2002, but shot 81-65 on the weekend to finish six strokes back, tied for 28th place.
Carnoustie Golf Links – Championship Course
^ The 6th hole was renamed Hogan's Alley in 2003
Wednesday, 8 July 1953
Stranahan set the early pace with a first round of 70, with Eric Brown in 2nd with a 71. Locke shot 72 and joined Dai Rees, Thomson, and De Vicenzo in 3rd. Dealing with putting problems, Hogan had to settle for an opening round of 73.
Thursday, 9 July 1953
Hogan's problems on the green continued in the second round, but he managed to better his score with a 71. Rees finished the round birdie-eagle to card a 70, giving him a share of the lead with Brown. De Vicenzo was in 3rd, with Hogan, Stranahan, and Thomson a shot further back.
Friday, 10 July 1953 (morning)
In the third round, Cerdá set a new course record with a round of 69. Thomson shot 71 to join Cerdá and Rees in 3rd. Hogan was having an excellent round until he found trouble on the 17th, but he managed to get up-and-down from a bunker and salvage a 6. He birdied the 18th to card a 70 for a share of the lead with De Vicenzo.
Friday, 10 July 1953 (afternoon)
In the final round, Stranahan was out first and posted a 69 and 286 total, including an eagle at the last. De Vicenzo was unable to recover after hitting his ball out of bounds at the 9th and finished at 287. Hogan chipped-in for birdie at the 5th, then followed with another birdie at 6. He opened up a two-shot lead at the 13th, saved par at the 17th, then made another birdie at 18. Battling the flu, he finished with a round of 68 to better the record that Cerdá had set that morning. His total of 282 was four shots clear of the field.
(a) denotes amateur