Jack Fleck beating Ben Hogan at the 1955 US Open would be comparable to Dennis Miller, the current Youngstown, Ohio Mill Creek Golf Course Pro who qualified for the 2012 US Open, beating Webb Simpson in an 18 hole playoff on Monday this year. Neil Sagebiel, writer of the popular Amchair Golf Blog was so intrigued by the story, he decided to write a book, his first one, on the subject, The Longest Shot.
Fleck had never warmed to the press, probably since the they somewhat resented his win over one of the more popular figures in sport at that time. Hogan was revered and feared at the time, and was widely considered the favorite to win his 5th US Open at the Olympic Club. Fleck, an Iowa muni golf course pro, played the last three holes in one under to tie Hogan on the final day, and head to an 18 hole playoff on Monday, after being 9 shots back of the leader on the first day of the tournament.
Neil developed a bond with Fleck, who today lives in Ft. Smith, AR, with frequent calls and visits, sometimes caddying for him on Champions Tour events, where he also picked up further insight from the other golf legends at the tournament. From these encounters he learned that Fleck was a disciple of yoga, meditation and prayer, and maintained a strict diet free of red meat, and mounted a disciplined approach to his preparation for the Open.
Neil did his homework, and immersed himself in his subject, Hogan, as well as that of the 1955 Open, and other players in the hunt, providing shot by shot coverage of the tournament. The last few chapters cover updates Fleck’s career to the present day, including his win at the 1979 Senior PGA Championship.
A most thorough read on one of the biggest upsets in golf by one of its most unlikely champions. Thanks Neil!