55th U.S. Open/June 16-19, 1955
Olympic Club Lake Course, Daly City, Calif.
|x-Jack Fleck, United States||76||-||69||-||75||-||67||—||287|
|Ben Hogan, United States||72||-||73||-||72||-||70||—||287|
|Tommy Bolt, United States||67||-||77||-||75||-||73||—||292|
|Sam Snead, United States||79||-||69||-||70||-||74||—||292|
|Julius Boros, United States||76||-||69||-||73||-||77||—||295|
|Bob Rosberg, United States||78||-||74||-||67||-||76||—||295|
x-won in a playoff
Jack Fleck’s playoff victory over the ever-popular Ben Hogan is considered one of the most stunning — and haunting — upset wins of all-time.
Few folks knew who Fleck was when he entered the championship that year: His parents were poor farmers in Iowa, and he often slept in sand bunkers in his youth so he could be the first caddie picked at the local country club to earn extra money. And he joined the U.S. Navy in 1942, and served as a quartermaster.
After World War II, Fleck began trying to qualifying for local PGA Tour events — with little success. He very well would have been the last-ranked player in that 1955 U.S. Open field, had rankings been kept back then.
In the final round, after Hogan got into the clubhouse with an even-par 70, he was already being congratulated, even though Fleck was still on the back nine. In fact, when NBC Sports went off the air before the conclusion of the tournament, commentators declared Hogan the winner of his fifth career U.S. Open.
Needing two birdies over his final four holes, Fleck birdied the 15th. And needing to sink a 7-foot putt on the finishing uphill par 4, he rolled it in to tie Hogan and send it into an 18-hole playoff.
In the playoff, Fleck birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to grab a three-stroke lead. Hogan rallied to trim the deficit to one shot heading into the final hole. But the Texan hooked his drive into deep rough, and ended up with a double bogey. Fleck shot 69; Hogan 72.
The irony of the head-to-head showdown? Fleck not only played Hogan-sponsored irons, but the first time the two golfers met was when Hogan hand-delivered a few clubs before the tournament began.
Instead of being hailed as a national champion, Fleck was ridiculed. The public, even the press, labeled him a fluke for defeating a man with superior credentials.
Fleck later attributed the suicide of his first wife, Lynn, to all the harassment he received over the years for capturing that national open.
Fleck’s other two PGA Tour wins — the 1960 Phoenix Open and 1961 Bakersfield Open — also came in sudden-death playoffs. Up until last year, he was the oldest living U.S. Open winner. He died at 92, still in possession of the old Hogan clubs he used to defeat his idol.