1955: Jack Fleck wins the U.S. Open, stages an upset over Ben Hogan in playoff

Jack Fleck

Jack Fleck denies Hogan another U.S. Open

On this day, In 1955 Jack Fleck won the 55th edition of the U.S. Open over Ben Hogan in an 18 hole playoff.  Fleck, a municipal course pro from Iowa, registered one of the greatest upsets in golf history at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

After Hogan made par on the 72nd hole to post a 287 total, most observers believed that he had already locked up the championship. Gene Sarazen, providing television commentary, congratulated him on the win and the NBC broadcast went off the air after proclaiming Hogan the champion. Fleck, however, was only a stroke behind playing the 14th. A bogey there, however, dropped him to two back. Fleck then made birdie on 15 and pars at 16 and 17, after a 50-foot birdie attempt lipped out. Needing a birdie on 18 to tie Hogan, Fleck played his approach from the edge of the rough to 8 feet, then knocked in the putt for a 67 and forced an 18-hole playoff on Sunday

The Sunday playoff

Despite overwhelming odds against him, Fleck held a two-stroke lead over Hogan at the turn. After a third consecutive birdie at 10, Fleck’s lead was three. But after a bogey at 17, the lead had dropped to just a single stroke on the 18th tee. Hogan hooked his drive into the very deep rough and took three strokes to get on the fairway: he made a 25-foot (8 m) putt to save double-bogey, but Fleck’s regulation par sealed the upset by three strokes, 69 to 72.

Facts on the 1955 U.S. Open

  • This was the first U.S. Open at the Lake Course of the Olympic Club
  • Fleck, won the U.S. Open with clubs manufactured by Hogan’s company
  • Byron Nelson came out of semi-retirement to play in his final U.S. Open and finished in 28th place.
  • Arnold Palmer made the cut for the first time at the U.S. Open and finished in 21st.
  • For the first time since 1919, Gene Sarazen did not play in the U.S. Open, ending a streak of 31 consecutive appearances.

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