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Try The Truth

June 29, 1998
June 29, 1998

Table of Contents
June 29, 1998

Golf Plus

Try The Truth

By Jack Fleck Edited by Kevin Cook

The way my win over Ben Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open has gone
down in history, you'd think I had no chance. How could an
unknown like me beat the great Hogan in an 18-hole playoff at
the Olympic Club? I was so overmatched, according to what I've
read in golf magazines and newspapers, that when I hit a bad
shot in the playoff and Hogan had to wait, I said, "Mr. Hogan,
I'm sorry, I'll try and improve my golf and speed up play."

This is an article from the June 29, 1998 issue Original Layout

It's a lie. Never happened.

Now, I understand that people like legends. Writers in barrooms
especially like legends! But isn't the truth interesting, too? I
was an excellent driver of the ball and a good irons
player--good enough that Hogan made a set of clubs for me. He
thought Jack Fleck could help bring credibility to his
club-design business. In fact he and I were the only ones
playing Hogan clubs during the '55 Open. (Years later he joked
that giving me those clubs "might have been a mistake.")

I was accurate enough to keep the ball in the fairway, and I
putted great that week, at least by my standards. Straight
drives and good putts--isn't that how you win the Open? I also
kept my concentration all week. I felt a calm that was like
self-hypnosis. I slept 9 1/2 hours the night before the playoff,
then went out and denied Hogan his fifth U.S. Open title.

Still, people believe a lie that is unfair to both of us. After
all, Hogan was a great competitor. He wouldn't want it said that
he lost to a guy who couldn't play, and I can tell you that he
didn't feel that way. He hated losing, but he knew I had beaten
him fair and square. At the end of our playoff he shook my hand,
looked me in the eye and said, simply, "Congratulations."

I had no reason to apologize.

Jack Fleck runs Lil' Bit A Heaven Golf Club in Magazine, Ark.

B/W PHOTO: AP Giant killer Fleck (right) says his win over Hogan was no fluke. [Ben Hogan and Jack Fleck shaking hands]