Iowa History Daily: On June 19, 1955, Bettendorf born Jack Fleck rallied late to win the U.S. The first major golf championship win for an Iowan, Fleck’s comeback denied golfing legend Ben Hogan a potential record-setting fifth Open title.
Born in the third-largest of the Quad Cities, Fleck’s farmer parents lost their farm during the 1920s. Fleck learned golf while working as a caddy for a local dentist during the 1930s, and eventually played golf during his time at Davenport High School. Turning pro in 1939, Fleck started his career in golf at the Des Moines Country Club where he earned five dollars per week as an assistant golf pro.
Joining the United States Navy during 1942, Fleck put his career on hold to serve as a quartermaster and participate in the D-Day invasion. Aboard a British rocket-firing ship stationed at Utah Beach in Normandy, the future Open champion proudly served his country.
Fleck focused on a return to the links after an honorable discharge by trying to qualify for PGA Tour events on the PGA winter tour. Several years of competing in local events and an occasional PGA contest led Fleck to decide on a two-year stint dedicated to pursuing his dreams full-time.
Six months later Fleck captured his first win on the tour when he came out of nowhere to upset Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open. The course at San Francisco's Olympic Club stymied Fleck on the first day of the tournament as he registered a deficit of nine strokes behind the day’s leader. Determined to turn things around, the 32-year old Fleck shot a second round 69 to get back into contention the following day.
After a rocky outing 75 in the third, Fleck came into Sunday three strokes behind four time champion Hogan. Carding a 67, Fleck caught Hogan to force an eighteen hole playoff. The municipal golf pro from Des Moines shot for par on the first seven holes, before three straight birdies propelled Fleck into the lead. A Hogan double bogey on 18 sealed a three shot victory for Fleck. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar