Davenport | DOB: November 7, 1921; Died: March 21, 2014 (Age 92)

Inducted 1990 | Category: Professional Golfer

Career Highlights

PGA Tour Career Victories

  • 1955 U. S. Open Champion Defeated Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff (69-72)
  • 1960 Phoenix Open Champion
  • 1961 Bakersfield Open Champion
  • 1964 Illinois PGA Championship
  • 1965 Illinois Open Champion

Senior Tour Highlights

  • 1979 PGA Seniors’ Champion
  • 1995 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf
  • Four-Ball Champion, Demaret Division with partner Tommy Bolt

Major Appearances

  • 10 Masters Tournaments
  • 13 U. S. Open Championships
  • 11 PGA Championships

Jack Fleck’s victory in the 1955 U. S. Open at the Olympic Club stands as one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

Fleck rallied late, making birdies on the 16th and 18th holes to shoot a final-round 67 and tie Ben Hogan. Fleck then shot 69 in the playoff and beat Hogan by three shots, denying him a record fifth Open crown. Fleck , an Iowa club pro at the time, won using Ben Hogan irons. Hogan hand-delivered the wedges to that set when he arrived at the Olympic Club.

Fleck was born in 1921 in Bettendorf and attended Davenport High School, graduating in 1939. He began his golf career by playing in high school, caddying and then becoming an assistant pro. His first job was at Des Moines Golf and Country Club under fellow Iowa Golf Hall of Famer Joe Brown in 1940.

Fleck left after two years to join the Naval Reserves in September of 1942. He was positioned in a gun boat off Normandy on D-Day. After his military career ended in December of 1945, Fleck traveled with Brown on the winter pro tour. Fleck then returned for a second tour of duty at Des Moines Golf, and was there until a fire destroyed the clubhouse on April 14, 1946.

Fleck returned to his roots and was hired by the Davenport Park Board as the pro at the Duck Creek and Credit Island courses.

Fleck continued to play on the winter tour after returning to the Quad Cities. He qualified for his first U.S. Open in 1950 at Merion, missing the cut. He tied for 52nd in the 1953 U.S. Open at Oakmont, 26 shots behind Hogan’s winning score. A month later he played in the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. His appearance was highlighted by recording a hole-in-one on the 11th hole.

In 1955, the 33-year-old Fleck decided to dedicate the next two years to playing on tour. If it didn’t work out, he planned to take his career in a different direction. While playing in the St. Petersburg Open, Fleck saw a set of Hogan irons and asked the company for his own set. His wish was granted. Six months later he recorded his career-changing U.S. Open victory. Fleck’s upset over Hogan would never have happened if Fleck hadn’t gotten through a sectional qualifier in Crete, Ill. He shot 73-72 and got in on the number.

Fleck came close to a second Open title in 1960, finishing in a tie for third behind winner Arnold Palmer and rookie pro Jack Nicklaus at Cherry Hills. His first victory since the U.S. Open came at the 1960 Phoenix Open. He also won the 1961 Bakersfield Open. He left the tour in 1963 .He came out on the short end of two playoffs, one of them to Palmer at the 1960 Insurance City Open.

He went on to work as a club professional in Wisconsin, Illinois and California. He returned to competitive golf as a senior ,winning the PGA Seniors’ Championship in 1979 one year before the Senior PGA (now Champions) Tour was formed.

Mr. Fleck passed away on March 21, 2014. He was 92 years old.

For more detailed information on Fleck’s life and career click on the links provided below.

Read Fleck Obituary from Golf Channel

Jack Fleck on Wikipedia

Two books about Jack Fleck and his 1955 U. S. Open victory:

“The Upset” by Al Barkow

“The Longest Shot” by Neil Sagebiel

Served in the Navy during WWII & participated in the D-Day invasion.
Fleck and Hogan shake hands before starting the playoff.
Warming up for Open playoff.
On the cover of Golf Digest
Playing on the Senior Tour.
With Iowa's other pro major winner Zach Johnson.
The man and his moment in history.
Fleck revisited the Olympic Club at the 2012 U. S. Open.
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