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EDITOR’S NOTE: With the return of the U.S. Open to The Olympic Club this June, there will be numerous features in the media recapping Jack Fleck’s historic de- feat of Ben Hogan in 1955, the fi rst Open held at the San Francisco club. But none of those features will be as thorough or as entertaining as Northern California author Al Barkow’s “The Upset,” to be published this June. In this excerpt, the stage is set after Fleck and Hogan tied following the conclusion of 72 holes, set- ting up a playoff that almost no one foresaw going Fleck’s way.


Jack Fleck carefully checked his scorecard before signing it, then took questions from a press corps that was both upset with him and pleased. Upset because they had to rewrite the stories they had already prepared: Hogan Wins His Record Fifth National Open. Pleased because they had a differ- ent but fascinating story to write. They liked Fleck so far, because he wasn’t the dour person he appeared to be on the golf course. Fleck teased the newsmen about having to work extra hours doing their rewrites. And, upon hearing that television coverage went off the air long before he had fi nished his fourth round and that Gene Sarazen had confi dently announced that Ben Hogan was the 1955 U.S. Open champion, he said it reminded him of the Chicago Tribune front-page headline announcing that


A


fter holing out for his birdie on the 72nd hole,


Thomas E. Dewey had won the 1948 presidential election. He then excused himself, saying he had to get some supper and rest, for he had a big day ahead. The newsmen went to their typewriters and Roget’s to fi nd as many synonyms as there were for dark horse and upset. They didn’t think Fleck had a chance in the playoff, but, as Art Rosenbaum wrote, taking a line from Fats Waller, “One never knows, do one?” A Pittsburgh sportswrit-


er, Bob Drum, was in the scrum surrounding Fleck in the locker room. A young man who had a developing reputation as someone who liked to have a good time and usually found it at local bars, Drum called his wife at home to tell her he had to stay over another day in San Francisco. And why? Because a golfer named Fleck had tied Ben Hogan, and they were going to have a playoff the following day. His wife, who had heard many excuses from her


husband for staying over an extra day or two, snickered and said that only he could come up with a name like Fleck to get an extra day on the road. Walker Inman had been


hanging around the edge of the gaggle of newsmen, and when Fleck broke away he congratulated his friend and asked if he wanted to go out for dinner. Fleck said no, he wanted to do his exercises and get his nine hours of sleep. He did make arrange- ments for Inman and Doug Ford to drive his car up to Portland, Oregon, where they would be playing in the Western Open the follow- ing week. Fleck said he’d drop the car off at Olympic in the morning and pick it up a couple of weeks later somewhere out on the tour. Win or lose, he would be fl ying home to Iowa when it was over. Fleck was still feeling so


calm it surprised him. He thought that, because it was over, more or less, he would come down to earth. He


50 / NCGA.ORG / SPRING 2012


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