Friday, April 24

That Time in 1948 Jack Fleck Won the Baker Park Labor Day Tournament and $200 in Kewanee, Illinois

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I STILL RECEIVE GOOGLE ALERTS about Jack Fleck, who I befriended in 2007 and wrote about in THE LONGEST SHOT, which published in May 2012. Jack won the 1955 U.S. Open in an 18-hole playoff against Ben Hogan, pulling off one of the greatest upsets in golf or any sport.

Jack died in 2014 at the age of 92 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Jack Fleck in 2010.
Occasionally, I learn something new about Jack, some small anecdote that didn't materialize in my extensive research and countless hours of conversations with him.

While not particularly important or newsworthy, I'll admit these tidbits are interesting to me, another point on the golf path of an obscure tour pro who seemingly came out of nowhere to win the National Open.

This item appeared in today's Star Courier of Kewanee, Illinois:
The [Baker Park] Labor Day tournament is still a major attraction every Hog Days. In 1948, it was the fourth time it had been held. 
In 1948, [Jack] Fleck was a 27-year-old golf pro at a Davenport, Iowa, municipal golf course who was competing for the second time in the Baker Park tourney. He shot rounds of 66 and 69 (135 total) to beat second place by five shots. 
His 66 tied the course record that had been set two months earlier by Kewanee's Don Sckrabulis. Schrabulis was in the junior class at Kewanee High School and he would later capture the high school state championship and win his share of local tournaments before becoming a golf club professional. 
For defeating 11 other professional golfers, Fleck won a prize of $200.
I knew Jack honed his game in small tournaments all over the Midwest. I'm sure he shot more low scores and won more small events than I'll ever know.

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