Golf: Golf legend Hogan dies

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Ben Hogan died yesterday in a Fort Worth hospital at the age of 84 following a lengthy illness.

Pat Martin, his secretary, said he had been ill for a while and contracted bronchitis last year. "He was admitted to hospital [on Thursday] with bronchitis," she said.

The facts alone argue well for Hogan's greatness. He amassed 63 US PGA Tour victories, nine major championships, four US Open titles, the career Grand Slam and the only person to win three professional grand slam events in a single season.

The single-minded, at times surly man - driven to be the best golfer ever - he had a tough strat to life. Born in rural Dublin, Texas, in 1912, Hogan, at the age of nine, was in the room when his blacksmith father, Chester, committed suicide with a .45-calibre pistol.

He discovered golf after his mother, Clara, moved the family to Fort Worth and he started to caddie at Glen Garden Country Club where, at age 15, he lost the caddie championship in a play-off to another destined for greatness, Byron Nelson.

Hogan turned pro when he was 17, joined the American tour full time at 19 in 1931 and struggled financially until he won his first tournament, the Hershey Four-Ball, in 1938.

His development was delayed by a severe right-to-left hook, but he finally mastered a controlled left-to-right game. He once said he never tried to hit a straight shot. "I can't," he said. "I don't believe anybody else can hit a straight ball. You only hit a straight ball by accident."

His 63 American tour victories is third all-time to Sam Snead's 81 and Jack Nicklaus' 70. Only Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Gary Player also won the American Masters, US Open, US PGA Championship and the Open in their careers.

Only Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson matched Hogan's four US Open victories, and only Nicklaus with 18 and Walter Hagen with 11 won more major professional championships than him.