June 19, 1955 – U.S.Open Golf Tournament – final day – play-by-play – NBC Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
On June 19, 1955 Jack Fleck won the 55th edition of the U.S. Open over Ben Hogan in an 18 hole playoff. Fleck, a municipal course pro from Iowa, registered one of the greatest upsets in golf history at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
After Hogan made par on the 72nd hole to post a 287 total, most observers believed that he had already locked up the championship. Gene Sarazen, providing television commentary, congratulated him on the win and the NBC broadcast went off the air after proclaiming Hogan the champion. Fleck, however, was only a stroke behind playing the 14th. A bogey there, however, dropped him to two back. Fleck then made birdie on 15 and pars at 16 and 17, after a 50-foot birdie attempt lipped out. Needing a birdie on 18 to tie Hogan, Fleck played his approach from the edge of the rough to 8 feet, then knocked in the putt for a 67 and forced an 18-hole playoff on Sunday.
Despite overwhelming odds against him, Fleck held a two-stroke lead over Hogan at the turn. After a third consecutive birdie at 10, Fleck’s lead was three. But after a bogey at 17, the lead had dropped to just a single stroke on the 18th tee. Hogan hooked his drive into the very deep rough and took three strokes to get on the fairway: he made a 25-foot (8 m) putt to save double-bogey, but Fleck’s regulation par sealed the upset by three strokes, 69 to 72.
Fleck had two other victories on the PGA Tour, the Phoenix Open in 1960 and the Bakersfield Open in 1961, both in playoffs. Apparently, you could not beat the man in a playoff. On the Senior Tour, he won the 1979 Seniors Championship and, with Tommy Bolt, won the Demaret Division of the 1995 Liberty Mutual Legends tournament. He tied for 11th in the 1962 Masters, his best finish at Augusta National.
Here is the final round, as it was broadcast live by NBC Radio as part of their Monitor weekend programming service.