Jack Fleck

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Jack Fleck
— Golfer —
Personal information
Full name Jack Donald Fleck
Born (1921-11-07)November 7, 1921
Bettendorf, Iowa, U.S.
Died March 21, 2014(2014-03-21) (aged 92)
Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S.
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight 167 lb (76 kg; 11.9 st)
Nationality  United States
Spouse Carmen Fleck (m. 2001)
Lynn Burnsdale Fleck
(m. 1949–75, her death)
Children Craig H.
Career
College None
Turned professional 1939
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Senior PGA Tour
Professional wins 7
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 3
Other 2 (regular)
2 (senior)
Best results in Major Championships
(Wins: 1)
Masters Tournament T11: 1962
U.S. Open Won: 1955
The Open Championship DNP
PGA Championship T7: 1962

Jack Donald Fleck (November 7, 1921 – March 21, 2014) was an American professional golfer, best known for winning the U.S. Open in 1955 in a playoff over Ben Hogan.[1][2][3]

Early years[edit]

Born in 1921 and raised in Bettendorf, Iowa,[4][5] Fleck's parents were poor farmers who had lost their land in the 1920s. He attended Davenport High School and played on its golf team. Fleck started as a caddy for a local dentist in the mid-1930s, turned professional in 1939,[6] and worked as an assistant golf pro at the Des Moines Country Club for five dollars a week prior to World War II. He joined the military in 1942 and served in the U.S. Navy as a quartermaster;[7] he participated in the D-Day invasion from a British rocket-firing ship off Normandy's Utah Beach.[8] Within two weeks after his discharge from the service, Fleck was on the PGA's winter golf tour with pro friends trying to qualify for PGA Tour events.

Pro career[edit]

After a few years of competing in local and PGA Tour events, Fleck decided to play full-time on the Tour for two years. Within six months, Fleck had his first win — on the biggest stage in men's professional golf — at the 1955 U.S. Open. Fleck won an 18-hole Sunday playoff by three strokes over his idol, Ben Hogan, at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.[1][2][9] His first round deficit of nine strokes (behind Tommy Bolt), was the greatest number overcome by a U.S. Open winner.[10] The following year he resigned his job as a municipal club pro in Davenport and moved to the Detroit area in October 1956.[11]

Fleck made three playoffs on tour in 1960, winning at the Phoenix Open in February.[12][13] He tied for third at the U.S. Open in 1960, and won his third and last tour event in October 1961, also in a playoff.[14] Fleck finished in the top ten at the PGA Championship in 1962 at Aronimink near Philadelphia, a tie for seventh, then left the tour in 1963. He was a club pro in Wisconsin, Illinois, and California, and attempted a comeback on tour in 1970.[15] Following the death of his wife Lynn in 1975, he qualified for the U.S. Open in 1977 at age 55, but missed the cut.[16]

Less than two years later, Fleck won the PGA Seniors' Championship in February 1979,[17] also won in a playoff,[18] a year prior to the formation of the Senior PGA Tour.[19] He was inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.[20]

In 1993, needing money to salvage a little golf course he owned in rural Arkansas that had been damaged by flooding, a place he called Li'l Bit of Heaven, he sold his 1955 U.S. Open gold medal.[19] He lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas with his wife Carmen Fleck.[21]

Personal[edit]

Fleck met his first wife, Lynn Burnsdale of Chicago, when she stopped in the municipal course's pro shop in Davenport in 1949 with a club that needed repair. They were married six weeks later and late the next year added their only child, a son. Fleck wanted to name him Snead Hogan Fleck, but they settled on Craig, after Craig Wood, the winner of the Masters and U.S. Open in 1941.[7] Lynn is credited with encouraging him to play on tour in the early 1950s and again in the early 1970s.[7][15] She died in 1975 and Fleck remarried in 1980.[3][16] He married his wife Carmen in 2001.[4] He died on March 21, 2014, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, at the age of 92.[22][23] He was the oldest living U.S. Open champion at the time of his death.[24]

Professional wins (7)[edit]

PGA Tour wins (3)[edit]

No. Date Tournament Winning score To par Margin
of victory
Runner-up
1 Jun 19, 1955 U.S. Open 76-69-75-67=287 +3 Playoff United States Ben Hogan
2 Feb 15, 1960 Phoenix Open Invitational 68-68-71-66=273 −11 Playoff United States Bill Collins
3 Oct 1, 1961 Bakersfield Open 71-71-69-65=276 −12 Playoff United States Bob Rosburg

PGA Tour playoff record (3–2)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1955 U.S. Open United States Ben Hogan Won 18-hole playoff (Fleck:69, Hogan:72)
2 1960 Phoenix Open Invitational United States Bill Collins Won 18-hole playoff (Fleck:68, Collins:71)
3 1960 St. Petersburg Open Invitational United States George Bayer Lost to birdie on first extra hole
4 1960 Insurance City Open United States Bill Collins, United States Arnold Palmer Palmer won with birdie on third extra hole
Collins eliminated with birdie on first hole
5 1961 Bakersfield Open United States Bob Rosburg Won with birdie on first extra hole

Major championship shown in bold

Other wins (2)[edit]

Senior wins (2)[edit]

Major championships[edit]

Wins (1)[edit]

Year Championship 54 holes Winning score Margin Runner-up
1955 U.S. Open 3 shot deficit +7 (76-69-75-67=287) Playoff 1 United States Ben Hogan

1 Defeated Hogan in an 18-hole playoff – Fleck 69 (–1), Hogan 72 (+2).

Results timeline[edit]

Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Masters Tournament DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T43 T26 T39 T18
U.S. Open CUT DNP DNP T52 DNP 1 CUT T26 CUT T19
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP R64 DNP R16 R32 R64 WD DNP
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Masters Tournament T34 WD T11 42 CUT DQ DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open T3 T27 DNP CUT DNP DNP CUT CUT DNP DNP
PGA Championship CUT T19 T7 WD DNP T20 T49 DNP DNP DNP
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
Masters Tournament DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

Note: Fleck never played The Open Championship.
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
DQ = Disqualified
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
R64, R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which player lost in PGA Championship match play
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

Summary[edit]

Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 0 0 2 10 7
U.S. Open 1 0 1 2 2 3 13 6
The Open Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PGA Championship 0 0 0 0 2 5 11 8
Totals 1 0 1 2 4 10 34 21
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 5 (three times)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 2 (1955 U.S. Open – 1955 PGA)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Grimsley, Will (June 20, 1955). "Jack Fleck Registers 69 to Beat Ben Hogan by 3 Strokes for National Open Title". Youngstown Vindicator. Associated Press. p. 7. 
  2. ^ a b Wind, Herbert Warren (June 27, 1955). "Jack, The Giant Killer". Sports Illustrated: 17–23. 
  3. ^ a b Bonk, Thomas (June 11, 1995). "He wasn't Hogan's hero". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Jack Fleck (1921- )". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Sports Pudit". Retrieved December 7, 2010. 
  6. ^ Jack Fleck, Davenport, 1972
  7. ^ a b c Thimmesch, Nick (September 18, 1955). "Meet the new king of golf". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Family Weekly magazine. p. 4. 
  8. ^ Murray, Jim (January 31, 1967). "Jack Fleck: lonesome anti-hero". Spokesman-Review. p. 11. 
  9. ^ "Biographical information from Jack Fleck Golf". Retrieved June 15, 2006. 
  10. ^ U.S. Open Records - Best Comeback by Winner, Final 54 Holes
  11. ^ "Jack Fleck takes job as club pro in Detroit". Spencer Daily Reporter (Spencer, Iowa). Associated Press. October 11, 1956. p. 9. 
  12. ^ Wood, Bob (February 16, 1960). "Jack Fleck wins Phoenix golf title". News and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina). Associated Press. p. 2B. 
  13. ^ "Jack Fleck is mining gold on golf's tournament trail". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. April 3, 1960. p. 2-sports. 
  14. ^ "Jack Fleck nips Bob Rosburg in Bakersfield Open playoff". Rome News-Tribune (Rome, Georgia). Associated Press. October 2, 1961. p. 7. 
  15. ^ a b Robinson, Bill (March 3, 1970). "Remember me?: Fleck is back to try again". St. Petersburg Evening Independent. p. 1C. 
  16. ^ a b Grimsley, Will (June 18, 1977). "Jack Fleck's story is one of life's ironies". Times-News (Hendersonville, North Carolina). Associated Press. p. 7. 
  17. ^ "Tournament Info for: 1979 Senior PGA Championship". PGA of America. February 1–4, 1979. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Fleck triumphs in playoff". Palm Bach Post. February 5, 1979. p. B7. 
  19. ^ a b Fields, Bill (June 4, 2004). "Jack Fleck's visit to Valhalla". Golf Digest. Archived from the original on July 6, 2004. Retrieved June 15, 2006. 
  20. ^ "Jack Fleck, Davenport". Iowa Golf Association. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  21. ^ Fleck, Jack. Be a Golf Tour Champion. 
  22. ^ Tays, Al (March 21, 2014). "Jack Fleck, upset Hogan in '55 U.S. Open, dies at 92". Golf Channel. 
  23. ^ "Jack Fleck, 1955 U.S. Open champ, passes away". PGA Tour. March 21, 2014. 
  24. ^ Crouse, Karen (June 2, 2012). "Finally Passing Test of Time". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]