YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO APOLOGIZE for winning the U.S. Open, but it sometimes seems as if one past champion feels that he should. In 1955, Jack Fleck pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in golf (and sports), beating Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff at the Olympic Club to win the U.S. Open.
Jack carries the accomplishment with both a sense of pride and burden. No, he wasn’t just lucky or a fluke. Although he never won another major, Fleck came close at Cherry Hills in the 1960 U.S. Open, tying for third behind Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, an amateur at the time. He won two other events on the PGA Tour and, later, a Senior PGA Championship.
I talked to Jack yesterday and will see him later this month in Raleigh, North Carolina, when he and about a dozen other legends play in a pro-am in advance of The Rex Hospital Open, a Nationwide Tour event. It’s been tremendous fun getting to know Jack and others such as Fred Hawkins, Dow Finsterwald, Billy Casper and the late Orville Moody. They have personality and the stories are great.
Now 87, Jack’s game is starting to come around again after some health problems set him back last year. He told me he played pretty well a few weeks ago at the Legends of Golf − even Casper said so.
Jack said he can’t wait for the rains to stop in Arkansas so he can get out and play again. That certainly sounds like Jack, the oldest former U.S. Open champion, and a player who is still working on his game.
−The Armchair Golfer
Jack Fleck Still Owes Him a Buck