What do first-time PGA Tour winner Martin Laird and Ben Hogan have in common? More than you might think.
Laird, like Hogan, is a natural lefty. Laird began playing golf as soon as he could stand. But when his father couldn’t find lefthanded clubs he switched him around. Hogan, too, switched sides because of a scarcity of clubs.
We all know that Hogan, a notorious hooker of the ball early in his career, didn’t start to win any tournaments until he learned to fade the ball. But did you know that when Laird arrived from Scotland to play college golf at Colorado State, he hit a low draw? His ball flight didn’t fit America’s aerial game so he revamped his swing and relies on a “butter cut.” Laird is continuing to feel the benefits of working with a new coach, having made the switch in April after missing eight cuts in his first nine events of the year.
Laird also shares Hogan’s drive and discipline. One key to Laird’s character is his quiet confidence that if he applies himself, he will eventually succeed. Have I mentioned his practice streak? Hogan would be proud of this range rat.
“I hate not to practice,” Laird told me in June. “I don’t ever want to feel like I didn’t give full effort.”
You could also argue that Laird and Hogan, who battled the yips in his later years, share struggles with the putter. Laird gets by with the belly putter. But he has a knack for making the big putts. After George McNeill missed his par putt on the third playoff hole, Laird could’ve lagged his birdie putt to tap in range and won. But I had a feeling he would finish with an exclamation point. After all, as a Tour rookie last year, Laird holed an eight-foot par putt on the final hole of the season to finish 125th and retain his card. When he won for the first time on the Nationwide Tour, he had to birdie the last hole. He pumped his fist before the putt even fell into the hole. The guy has ice in his veins, just like “the Wee Ice Mon.”