Remembering Jack Fleck and Frank Hannigan
By Torleif Sorenson on 3/24/14
Over this past weekend, golf lost two important senior figures.
Jack Fleck (1921-2014)
The Bettendorf, Iowa native may be best-remembered for his dramatic 18-hole playoff victory over the legendary Ben Hogan in the 1955 U.S. Open Championship at Olympic in San Francisco. At the 18th, Fleck saved par after Hogan hooked his tee-shot into the deep rough, resulting in a double-bogey. It was his first professional victory and his only major championship, but in so doing, he also denied Hogan a fifth U.S. Open championship. And in a delicious bit of irony, Fleck won that Open using clubs made by Hogan's company.
The USGA produced this interview and profile of Fleck just under two years ago:
What is not well-known is that, until he died on Friday at age 92, Fleck was the oldest surviving U.S. Open champion. Fleck also served the United States during World War II, including participating in the D-Day invasion at Utah Beach in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.
Fleck is survived by his wife, Carmen, and son Craig, who was named after Craig Wood, who himself won both the Masters Tournament and the U.S. Open Championship in 1941.
Frank Hannigan (1931-2014)
For those of us who had the opportunity to read his columns or see him on television, the word "curmudgeon" comes to mind. The Staten Island native was a newspaper reporter before joining the USGA in 1961 as public information manager. He became Executive Director in 1983 and shortly thereafter decided to bring the 1986 U.S. Open Championship to Shinnecock Hills on Long Island — for the first time in 90 years.
Hannigan returned to his writing roots following his retirement; he was a contributor to Golf Digest, analyzing the Rules, equipment, pace of play, and the game at large. Hannigan did not suffer foolishness gladly — and was not afraid to criticize the USGA on occasion. In fact, one of the more recent "shots across the bow" Hannigan fired was in a "look back" at his life and career for Golf World's Bill Fields in an interview last April that is worth your time reading.
Over the weekend, Hannigan's successor at USGA Executive Director, David Fay, offered these thoughts on his predecessor:
We will miss both of these gentlemen in a variety of ways. May they both rest in peace.
H-Ts: Geoff Shackelford and John Strege
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