Golf Channel feature on Fleckman is Tuesday

Published 5:53 pm Monday, June 12, 2017

This week last year, Groves native Andrew Landry took the golf world by storm.

He became the darling of the U.S. Open in suburban Pittsburgh after leading the first round and standing in second place the next two rounds. For longtime golf followers, his performance evoked memories of another Jefferson County native from 49 years earlier.

Port Arthur’s Marty Fleckman was that guy.

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The recent University of Houston graduate was still an amateur when he led the first round of the U.S. Open at Springfield, N.J.’s Baltusrol Golf Club on June 15, 1967. He was two strokes ahead of the likes of Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Chi-Chi Rodriguez.

Fleckman shot 73 in the second round, six strokes off his first round pace, but was still tied for fourth. He surged back to the top of the leaderboard with a 69, his 1-under 209 one ahead of Jack Nicklaus, Casper and Palmer.

The first three rounds remain his all-time favorite memory from his golfing days.

“I have so many memories about that,” he said at the June 8 Babe Didrikson Zaharias Awards dinner in Beaumont.

Then, that fourth round came. Fleckman struggled to a 10-over 80 and ended up 18th.

“Golf is like life in general,” he said. “You have to take one day at a time. In life, you have to take one day at a time. Every time you play a round of golf, it could be a little bit of difference. Look at the players on the PGA Tour. One day, they have a good round. The next day, they’re not so good. It’s meshing together a lot of parts. You’ve got your long game, your short game [and] your putting.”

Fifty years later, Golf Channel has relived Fleckman’s run at Baltusrol, and the nation will as well.

“Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open” will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fleckman’s performance from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The first round of golf’s second major of the year starts Thursday — exactly 50 years to the day Fleckman teed off in New Jersey.

Fleckman, who resides in Houston, earned his first and only PGA Tour victory in December 1967 in Lafayette, La. He’s one of only four players to win in their official Tour debut.

His best major finish was fourth in the 1968 PGA Championship.

Landry, a two-time winner on the Tour, finished tied for 15th in the 2016 U.S. Open.

No golfers originally from Mid- or South County qualified for this year’s Open.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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