Jack Fleck, upset Hogan in '55 U.S. Open, dies at 92

By Al TaysMarch 21, 2014, 8:21 pm

Jack Fleck, a former municipal course pro from Iowa who stunned Ben Hogan in a playoff for the 1955 U.S. Open title, died Friday in Fort Smith, Ark.

The news, first reported on Twitter by PGA.com, was confirmed by the PGA Tour.

Fleck, 92, was the oldest living U.S. Open champion.

Fleck had been a full-time PGA Tour player for only about six months when he entered the 1955 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. After an opening 76 he was nine strokes behind first-round leader Tommy Bolt, but made up the deficit – still the largest in Open history – to tie Hogan at 287, 7 over par on Olympic’s Lake Course.

Hogan was already in the clubhouse, and NBC proclaimed him the champion before it went off the air. Gene Sarazen congratulated Hogan on what would have been a record fifth U.S. Open win.

Fleck, however, had other ideas. He was two shots behind after bogeying the 14th hole. He birdied the 15th, then, after two pars, sank an 8-foot putt for a 67 and a tie with Hogan.

Photos: Fleck through the years

Video: Fleck recalls Open win

In the 18-hole playoff the next day, Fleck played the front nine in 2 under to Hogan’s level par. A birdie at No. 10 increased the lead to three shots, but Fleck gave it right back with a bogey at 11. Another bogey at 17 sent Fleck to the 18th tee with a one-shot lead.

Hogan hooked his final drive into deep rough, took three more strokes to get back to the fairway and ended up making double bogey. Fleck made a routine par to close out one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

An interesting sidelight to the Fleck/Hogan Open legend is that Hogan was Fleck’s idol. Fleck was playing a custom-made set of Ben Hogan clubs, and Hogan himself had personally delivered a couple of wedges. In pictures of the two taken after the playoff, Hogan is looking at Fleck holding the trophy and has a smile every bit as big as Fleck’s.

“I remember his reaction very much,” Fleck told The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in a 2013 interview. “I thought he would be disappointed with the fact he didn’t play to his highest level. But he was very nice and very appreciative even though he lost the playoff.”

Although the win will always be considered a major upset, Fleck proved it wasn’t a fluke by going on to win two more PGA Tour events – the 1960 Phoenix Open Invitational (in a playoff over Bill Collins) and the 1961 Bakersfield Open (in a playoff over Bob Rosburg). He was in two other playoffs as well, losing to George Bayer in the 1960 St. Petersburg Open Invitational and to Arnold Palmer in the  1960 Insurance City Open.

Fleck also made a run at another Open championship – finishing in a six-way tie for third, three shots behind winner Arnold Palmer, in the 1960 Open at Cherry Hills.

Fleck left the PGA Tour in 1963 and worked as a club pro in Wisconsin, Illinois and California. In 1977, at age 55 he qualified for the U.S. Open but missed the cut at Southern Hills.

In 1979, a year before the Champions Tour – then known as the Senior PGA Tour, was founded, Fleck won the PGA Seniors’ Championship in a playoff. in 1995 he teamed with Bolt to win the Demaret Division of the Liberty Mutual Legands of Golf.

“Jack started about the same time I started on the Tour,” Arnold Palmer said. “He was a good player, kind of a quiet, easy-going guy who played his game and never talked too much about it. He was a nice man to have on the Tour. I was sorry to learn of his passing."

Fleck turned pro in 1939, working as an assistant pro at the Des Moines Country Club. His golf career was interrupted by World War II, in which he served as a U.S. Navy quartermaster. He participated in the D-Day invasion, serving on a ship that provided fire in support of the landing of troops on Normany's Utah Beach.

Services are Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church in Fort Smith.

Getty Images

Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

Getty Images

Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

Getty Images

Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

Getty Images

Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”