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Longest Shot, The [Hardcover]

Neil Sagebiel
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 July 2012
The inspirational story of the unknown golfer from Iowa who beat his idol in the 1955 U.S. Open With the overlooked Jack Fleck still playing the course, NBC-TV proclaimed that the legendary Ben Hogan had won his record fifth U.S. Open and signed off from San Francisco. Undaunted, the forgotten Iowan rallied to overcome a nine-shot deficit over the last three rounds--still a U.S. Open record--and made a pressure-packed putt to tie Hogan on the final hole of regulation play. The two men then squared off in a tense, 18-hole playoff from which Fleck emerged victorious in one of the most startling upsets in sports history. On par with the classic golf narratives of Mark Frost and John Feinstein, "The Longest Shot" will surprise and delight fans as they trace the improbable journey of an unheralded former caddie who played his way into the record books by out-dueling the sport's greatest champion of his time.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press (9 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312661843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312661847
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.3 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 455,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


**A Top 100 book and Top 25 Nonfiction book** **Named one of "Booklist"'s Top 10 Sports Books of 2012** **Named one of the Best Books of 2012, According to Business Leaders by BloombergBusinessweek**"Fifty-seven years after the fact (and in time for this year's Open at Olympic), two books about one of golf's most improbable upsets have surfaced simultaneously. Like the clash between Hogan and Fleck, the works pit an established, celebrated veteran against a relative upstart. And as in 1955, the upstart wins. But, unlike in 1955, it's not close. "The Longest Shot" is the first book from Neil Sagebiel, the founder and editor of Armchair Golf Blog, and he makes a strong bid to create shelf space for himself alongside 21st-century golf literati like John Feinstein, Mark Frost and Don Van Natta Jr. Sagebiel takes his time, working leisurely as golf demands, but does a thorough job. And his narrative pace during the last hour of that final round, as he bounces back and forth between Hogan in the locker room and Fleck on the course, may have a rhythm more suited to a tennis rally, but here it aces."--"The New York Times Sunday Book Review ""A compelling read...Golf historians can thank Sagebiel." --"PGA Magazine ""Long before a small circle of American kids dismantled the Soviets' Big Red Machine at Lake Placid, Jack Fleck's defeat of the mighty Ben Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open was as stunning and stirring an upset as sports had ever seen. In "The Longest Shot," Neil Sagebiel not only expertly reconstructs the million-to-one tale of the Iowa muni pro who denied Hogan his chance to become the only man to win the Open five times, he honors the grand tradition of profound and poetic literature in golf." --Ian O'Connor, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Golf's Greatest Rivalry """The Longest Shot" is the remarkable story of how Jack Fleck, the improbably named municipal course

About the Author

NEIL SAGEBIEL is the founder and editor of "Armchair Golf Blog," one of the top golf blogs on the Internet. A former copywriter for a Seattle advertising agency and major newspaper, he is a freelance writer in Floyd, Virginia.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Inspired 19 Aug 2012
We've all had dreams of sporting glory... going toe-to-toe down the finishing stretch against Tiger Woods at the Open Championship or the Masters... and beating him with a moment of pure brilliance on the final green. Yes, the underdog, the complete unknown, the mission impossible beats the world's greatest golfer. Come on, admit it - you've fantasised about it. We all have. If you don't have the ability then imagination is the next best thing.

Back in 1955, that underdog, that complete unknown became the biggest story in golf and delivered one of the greatest upsets in the game. It was the US Open and it pitched the mighty Ben Hogan against an Iowan by the name of Jack Fleck.

The Longest Shot is the story of these two men's paths to the Open and their ensuing battle (over an 18 hole play-off). Ben Hogan was looking to finish his remarkable career in style while Jack Fleck was looking to make a pro career a reality.

The author, Neil Sagebiel (of the Armchair Golf Blog), met Jack Fleck - now in his 90s - and decided to write the story of golf's greatest underdog. The story is one of grit and determination, on the part of both men, and anyone who swings a club will empathise with the mindset of Fleck as he tries to make a name for himself. Sagebiel gets under Fleck's skin so that you can understand the man's work ethic as well as his hopes and dreams. That is what is at the heart of this book... the battle at Olympic in San Francisco was the mere culmination of the man's drive for success.

A vast quantity of research went into this book and that is where my only frustration lies - frustration at myself I must add - I simply can't keep up with the names and dates of all the characters involved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. 9 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic read and perfectly captures the excitement of the tournament and the highs and lows experienced by Fleck and Hogan respectively. Having read many golf history books by well known and respected authors such as Curt Sampson, Mark Frost and John Feinstein I would say that this stands up there with the best of them. Well researched and well written, it takes you right into the thick of the action. It's an incredible underdog story which if you didn't know it was true seems almost too far fetched to believe. I can imagine people at the time saying " you just couldn't write it!", well Neil Sagebiel has, and has done it very well indeed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Notable Contribution to the Annals of Golf History 26 July 2012
By Gary K. McCormick - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought a copy of "The Longest Shot" just prior to the 2012 U.S. Open, when the event would return to the site of the events recounted in the book - the Olympic Club, in San Francisco, CA. I attended the 2012 Open, working as a USGA volunteer, and I watched two days of practice rounds and all four days of the tournament. I waited until after the Open to start reading the book, and though the author does a great job of bringing the story to life for readers who have never been to the venue, my familiarity with the course after having spent the week of the Open there added to my enjoyment of the story.

One thing that I found special about Mr Sagebiel's telling of the story is the sense of anticipation I got as the events of that long-ago week unfolded in the pages of the book - as I read along, especially when reading about the final regulation round and the playoff round, I found that I couldn't wait to see what happened next, even though I knew how the tournament ended! I got that same sense of anticipation when watching the Tom Hanks movie "Apollo 13" -- even though I had watched those events unfold on TV at the time, the movie was so well done that I could feel the tension and the drama of the story playing out as if I had no knowledge of the ending.

I also like the way that Mr Sagebiel let the reader know what Jack Fleck was all about, what kind of a man he was at the time. Over the years this story has been told more from the point of view of this fluky thing happening to Ben Hogan; Mr Sagebiel tells the story from Jack's side, and bring out a fuller portrait of him than "unknown muni course pro". I especially liked the description of the aftermath of the Open, and the effect that the win had on Jack's life. I see parallels in the aftermath of Bubba Watson's Masters win. (Jack Fleck was at the 2012 Open, and I saw him there, though I did not meet him. He is still quite a character - vital and active at 90 years of age. It was a real treat to see him return to the site of his great victory.)

Bottom line - thoroughly researched and exceedingly well-written, "The Longest Shot" is a valuable contribution to the literature of golf history, and belongs on the bookshelf of every golfer who is interested in the history of the game. Mr Sagebiel deserves the thanks of golf fans for bringing this great story of a significant event in the history of golf more fully to light.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Book! 26 Nov 2012
By Jon P. Scott - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not many books hold my attention like this one did. Chill bumps as the story of Jack Fleck unfolds. Get this book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sure Shot of a Golf Read 6 July 2012
By rodboomboom - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sagebiel does the golfing community, especially its aficanados who enjoy reading about its history, a great service with this fine chronicle of one of golf's greatest upsets, Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan.

The Open upset in 1955 at Olympic Club was brought to all of our minds with the recent Open happening there and the TV interview with Fleck himself. This spurred my purchase of this volume and read it with pleasure and interest as it is very well written. It tracks the two different paths for the '55 playoff, one a obscure pro from Iowa and the other the renowed Hawk who was nearing the end of a marvelous career.

This is developed over the years and then becomes more detailed as the Open in San Francisco and what leads up to it. Amazing and fascinating to this Christian golfer is the faith of this man and that he took a portable phonograph (remember those) and played Mario Lanza singing "I'll Walk with God," and his hearing a voice several times saying to him "Jack, you are going to win the Open." This coupled with his saying to Hogan before the playoff, "You'll know what I mean," without his even knowing why he said it.

The connection between Hogan and Fleck with boy playing Hogan clubs is amazing. Finally, the Cherry Creek Open transceting the career of Fleck, Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus. Truly this is a book worth reading and owning.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sagebiel eagles with first book 19 Jun 2012
By Pacific NW Reader - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I recently finished Neil Sagebiel's first book, The Longest Shot. This is a well written tale about the 1955 U.S. Open and more importantly, about the rise of an unknown golfer at the time named Jack Fleck. Mr. Sagebiel also provided a great look into the life of the professional golf tour during the 1950's and how it differs from today's media driven events. I recommend this book to those who love golf and those who love a good underdog story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mysterious Jack Fleck, Master of Ben Hogan 18 Jun 2012
By Tom - Published on
While Ben Hogan had an indomintable spirit, Jack Fleck goes one better. Sagebiel captures the story and adds suspense on every page. As a golfer I thought that I was right there; I started reading and couldn't put it down. A very well written and exciting book.
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