The incredible story of the 1955 US Open

A little history lesson today about the 1955 US Open won by Jack Fleck. Or, as it was reported at the time, the Open that Ben Hogan lost.

Jack Fleck with Ben Hogan after the 1955 US Open.
When I started Aussie Golfer five years ago, one of the first golf bloggers to make contact with Neil Sagebiel at Armchair Golfer. Neil has been a friendly source of golf information ever since and he has written a book on this amazing story that I’m happy to recommend. It’s a story that needs telling.
In short, the story goes like this.

Jack Fleck was a journeyman golfer. All but an unknown going into the 1955 US Open at Olympic Golf Club. Admiring Hogan and the golf clubs he produced he wrote a letter to ask if Hogan would make him a set of his clubs. Sure enough, Hogan granted him his wish. In addition, Hogan hand delivered Fleck two more wedges before the tournament began.

Before 1965, The US Open concluded with 36 holes on a Saturday. With four holes to play Fleck found himself two shots behind Hogan, who had finished his round and was being congratulated by on winning a fifth US Open. Even NBC, who had been broadcasting the event signed off after proclaiming Hogan the winner.
As you may have guessed, Fleck then tied Hogan’s four-round total courtesy of a birdie on the last and the two men were set for an 18-hole playoff the next day. Fleck lead for the entire playoff but was just one shot ahead as both players arrived at the 18th. Hogan’s foot slipped on his drive and his ball found heavy rough. Fleck went on to beat Hogan by three shots.
It was an amazing result that you would expect to have been applauded. But beating Hogan was akin to bowling Bradman out for a duck, and no one liked it at all. The press and others hounded Fleck for years for beating Hogan, and it was reported as being the US Open that Hogan lost, rather than Fleck winning it.
Golf Digest have a great interview with Fleck that discusses golf, the war and his friendship with Hogan. It includes this:

Many years later, I decided to phone Ben, and he was nice. His voice sounded good. As we talked, I mentioned the clubs that he made for me and how much I appreciated what they did for me at Olympic. There was a pause, and then he replied, “Is that a good course?” He didn’t remember the 1955 U.S. Open. He didn’t remember making the clubs for me. Not long after, my friend Ben Hogan passed away.

Fleck is finally getting the credit he deserved for the victory and Sagebiel’s book The Longest Shot recounts it all in wonderful detail. He and Fleck are signing copies of the book all week at Olympic if you lucky enough to be in attendance. Otherwise, there are plenty of ways to buy it online.

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