Column: Olympic the graveyard of legends

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When the Open finally did arrive in 1955, Hogan appeared well on his way to a record-setting fifth Open title when he closed with a 70. NBC was so confident it proclaimed him the winner, and switched to other programming.

Still on the course, though, was Jack Fleck, a little-known club pro from Iowa. He birdied two of the last four holes for a 67 that tied Hogan and forced an 18-hole playoff. Fleck built a three-shot lead at the turn in the playoff and Hogan, needing a birdie on the final hole to tie, ended up hitting it in the rough and making double bogey.

“Being a Hogan guy I thought he would win even when Ben was one behind on 18,” said writer Dan Jenkins, who covered that Open. “I thought Ben would birdie, but he didn’t.”

One consolation for Hogan was that Fleck was using Ben Hogan golf clubs. The company had been founded only a few years earlier and was struggling, and Hogan was happy to get some publicity for the clubs _ even if it came at a professional cost to him.

Fleck would win just twice more on the PGA Tour the rest of his career, and never won another major. But his win set a tone for Opens to come at Olympic, where greatness comes at a price.

Halfway through this Open, Woods appeared to be in control, back on his path to break the record of 18 majors set by Jack Nicklaus. Like Hogan 57 years before him, he seemed a lock to win another U.S. Open.

But this is Olympic, where the greats can be easily exposed.

“At the end of the day, it will all make sense,” Jenkins said Sunday in the press tent just as the leaders were about to tee off. “Or it will make no sense at all.”

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TIm Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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