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man, Jack,” said Ford. “Keep it going, buddy.” “Thanks, fellas, I’ll do my best. I think I can win.” “Damn right, you can,” said Inman. “Give me a call when you’re comin’ back out on tour. I’ll have the car for you. Oh, and Finsterwald is going to join us.” “Thanks, guys.” Fleck walked into the


clubhouse, and there was Ben Hogan, who had also just arrived. They said good morning and went together down the stairs to the locker room. No words passed between them. After Fleck had changed into his golf


today, you will know what I mean. So, good luck and play well.”


Hogan wished Fleck


well too, then watched his opponent for the day leave. He couldn’t for the life of him understand what Fleck meant by, “No matter what the outcome is today, you’ll know what I mean,” but he didn’t dwell on it. It was another chilly,


overcast day on the coast of north-central California as the gallery filed into The Olympic Club to witness this unusual matchup- the hitherto-unknown public-course pro, Fleck,


the ball, waggled the club, then made his swing. He followed the ball through its entire flight, saw it drop at the caddie’s feet, then slowly pulled another ball into place and went about the process exactly as before. The Hogan watchers


shoes and was on his way out to the practice tee he passed Hogan, who was lacing up his shoes. Fleck stopped and said, “Ben, I was driving from El Paso when I saw and heard two motorcycle police and an ambulance coming toward El Paso. I did not know it was you until I read the newspaper the next morn- ing. I understand that hun- dreds of well-wishers called and wired for your recovery and prayed for you. So no matter what the outcome is


against the magisterial Hogan. Many walked to the practice range to watch the two professionals hit their warm-up shots. Most gathered behind Hogan, who was deep into his work mode. He began by hitting some short pitches, then the 9 iron and through the rest of the set, hitting five or six balls with each club. For ev- ery shot he went about the process as though it were a shot he was playing on the course. He took his address position, set the club behind


chuckled enviously at how little the caddie had to move to retrieve each ball Hogan hit. Jack Fleck set himself up to hit his practice shots at the far side of the tee. His aim was only to loosen his muscles and get his timing and coordination. He didn’t hit the balls with the delib- eration of Hogan, although he didn’t rush the work- out either. He was loose, relaxed. He swung each of the clubs, as he went up the ladder, with purpose but not urgency. He hit more than a few with his driver, which, of course, would be especially important against Hogan. He had been get- ting good length, in part due to his sweet tempo. But the length of his driver was also a factor. He did not use the Hogan driver, prefer- ring a MacGregor Tommy Armour model with a hard plastic insert. And it was longer than standard in length—44.5 inches rather than the conventional 43 inches. Fleck was really more interested in getting in more extended putting practice, and after hitting 35 or so balls on the range, he headed to the putting clock, a few yards from the first tee.


Hogan hit a few drivers, then finished his warm-up with six soft wedge shots to get the feel back in his hands after the harder hit-


ting. He then moved over to hit some practice putts. As tired as he had been, and more than a little depressed at how the tournament proper had ended, he was recovered and in a competi- tive frame of mind. The time had come, the


call to the first tee. And with it another set of nerve ends kicked in. Hogan knew the feeling well, of course. He had been in that situation so often. For Fleck it was different. A kind of numb- ness of mind hit him. When he reached the first tee he saw Dr. Barton at the gallery ropes and went over to ask him a question. “Doctor Paul, do we play this at match or stroke play?” Barton was taken aback. Jack didn’t know the format? “It’s stroke play, Jack. And remember, I’m going to give you some sugar cubes every few holes. It’ll keep your energy up. I know it’s not what you like to eat, but I think it’ll help.” Fleck nodded, and then


The Olympic Club’s head professional, John Battini, poked his head out of the window of the pro shop, which was at the very back of the tee, and hailed Jack in a loud whisper: “Jack, Jack, phone call. Porky Oliver. He wants to talk to you. I told him you were about to tee off, but he said you had to take the call.”


Battini held the receiver


of the phone out the window, and Jack put it to his ear. “Jack,” said Oliver, “you beat him today, or I’ll kick your ass up to your shoulder. Hear me?” “I hear you, Chops, I hear


you.” And Fleck handed the phone back to Battini. The phone call had brought him out of his brain freeze.


Reprinted with permission from The Upset: Jack Fleck’s Incredible Victory of Ben Hogan at the U.S. Open by Al Barkow. Text copyright 2012 Chicago Review Press. Published by Chicago Review Press (distributed by IPG/www.ipgbook.com). Available in June 2012.


SPRING 2012 / NCGA.ORG / 53


PHOTO: USGA


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