|Yours truly and Jack Fleck in North Carolina in 2009.|
"How did you do?" Ball asked.
"I don't think I'm going to qualify," Fleck replied.
"I'll bet you a dollar that you qualify."
"There's some players still out. I'm hanging around here putting just to keep loose."
"I still bet a dollar you make it."
Then Ball eased his car into gear.
"I'll see you in San Francisco," he said, as Fleck waited anxiously on the putting green. Would he?
At Lincolnshire the final players streamed off the course in the later afternoon and tallied their scorecards. Errie Ball's math had been correct. With the qualifying mark set at 147, Ball's 145 and Fleck's 146 were in. They would see each other in San Francisco after all. The course conditions had proved tough. Ball's 145 was second best to medalist Ed Oliver's 143.
"He still owes me a dollar," Ball said, chuckling, a half century later in reference to the friendly wager, although Fleck said Ball refused payment through the years.
"He said, 'I want you to owe me,'" Fleck recalled.Of course, many of us know what happened less than two weeks later in June 1955. Fleck stunned Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open. He would cherish and defend that improbable victory for the rest of his days.