On February 2, 1949, golfing legend Ben Hogan was seriously injured when a bus right outside of El Paso, Texas was trying to pass a truck and slammed into the '49 Cadillac that he was driving with his wife Valerie by his side. Hogan saw the bus coming and threw himself across his wife in an effort to protect her, if he wouldn't have done so, chances are that he would have perished in the accident as the steering wheel of the automobile punctured the drivers side seat. Hogan suffered a fractured pelvis, a broken collarbone, a fractured ankle, knee damage, and a chipped rib. The devastating injuries would leave him hospitalized for 59 days. However, it was just a speed bump on the road of life as he made a full recovery and made a triumphant return to the PGA tour the following year.
The road to recovery was a painstaking process. After multiple surgeries to repair the broken bones a blood clot formed that required an emergency surgery, yet again he had avoided the worst case scenario. After his stay of nearly two months in a hospital bed, he headed home, where he would continue the healing process. He not only returned to the links in 1950, he also won the U.S. Open.
Hogan played with pain throughout the rest of his life and career. The pain limited him to playing in no more than 7 PGA events a year, but it did not limit his greatness. He won 13 more times, which included six majors. In 1953 alone, he won three majors, which was something that would not be matched until Tiger Woods accomplished the feat in 2000. The accident that seemed like it could have ended a career became a distant memory but the pain that lingered on throughout his life was a constant reminder of how close he had come to death. Over the course of 22 years, Hogan recorded 64 PGA wins which ranks him 4th on the all-time list for wins in a career. Only Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, and Jack Nicklaus sit ahead of him on that list. A true legend in his time, Hogan will always be remembered as one of the greatest to ever swing a golf club. Probably the toughest as well.