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R.I.P., Jack and Frank

The past weekend was not a good one for golf, having nothing to do with what happened at any tournament. Two men passed away, two men who each in his own way brought our frequently full-of-itself game down to earth. Jack Fleck, who died on Friday at age 92, both shattered and launched dreams when he miraculously (is there any other word?) won the 1955 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, snatching victory from Ben Hogan in one of sport's great upsets. Fleck was a club pro from Iowa with shaky hopes of playing the Tour when he finally overcame poor putting and a hair-trigger temper to birdie two of the final three regulation holes to tie Hogan, then beat him in an 18-hole playoff, 69-72. Also lost was Frank Hannigan, who began at the USGA in 1961 and rose to serve as its Executive Director from 1983-89. The 82-year-old Hannigan was smart, funny, often cantankerous, extremely opinionated, and despite a career among the blue blazers, an advocate for real golfers, many of whom had no idea who he was until he became an on-air voice for ABC’s golf coverage after leaving the USGA. At the highest levels of the game, where marching in lock-step is often the only way to succeed, Hannigan heard a different drummer. He will be missed.

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