One dogs contem....contemp....con-tem..pla-tions on daily life........oh, stop rolling your eyes already and give me break, I'm a dog, for Gods sakes...

Jack Fleck's legacy, the 1955 U.S. Open upset, lives on

Zach Johnson was making that climb Sunday in San Francisco after finishing a practice round in preparation for Thursday's first round of the U.S. Open.

As he walked, he was responding to a reporter's text message about Jack Fleck. Johnson turned a corner, looked up and there he was. Fleck, in the flesh.

"I'm texting about him and he's standing there," Johnson said. "A weird, bizarre moment."

Fifty-seven years ago, on the same 18th green Johnson had just left, Fleck stood over a 7-foot birdie putt in the final round of the 1955 U.S. Open. Make it and the Iowa native and Davenport club pro would tie Ben Hogan and force an 18-hole playoff the next day. Miss it, and Hogan would become the only man with five U.S. Opens.

He made it. Then Fleck, dubbed a "darkhorse of the darkest hue" by one reporter, pulled off an upset for the ages when he beat Hogan, his idol and the best player of his era, in the playoff.

Flip the calendar ahead 52 years. Johnson, another Iowa native, outdueled the greatest player of his era, Tiger Woods, to win the 2007 Masters.

"If you want to compare, I was probably a greater unknown," said Fleck, who now lives in Fort Smith, Ark.

Two Iowans. Two late bloomers. Two major champions. As Johnson played Olympic Club in preparation for his ninth U.S. Open appearance, Fleck's legacy crossed his mind "a time or two. His name, face and story are all around the clubhouse. It's pretty cool. I feel a connection, sure. The only Iowa boys to win a major."

Fleck will be at The Olympic Club, as guest of the United States Golf Association, all week. At 90, he is the oldest living U.S. Open champion.

"I'm 90," Fleck said. "But I wish I was 50."


Jack Fleck still has the Ben Hogan clubs he used to beat Ben Hogan in 1955.

"Some guy called me a year ago and said, 'Hey, you got that set of clubs you won the Open with? I'll give you $45,000,' " Fleck recalled. "I hesitated a minute and said, 'I might as well give them to you.' (Meaning they were worth far more.) He hung up."

You can't put a price on history. Especially when your feat is considered one of the greatest golfing upsets of all time. The debate rages, between amateur Francis Ouimet's victory over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 U.S. Open, and Fleck over Hogan in 1955.

Fleck, a child of the Depression, was born in Bettendorf. He was introduced to golf as a caddy at the Davenport Country Club. When that club hosted the 1936 Western Open, one of the biggest events of that era, Vic Siegel remembers that he and Fleck were hired.

"Fleck was a forecaddie, and I worked in the clubhouse," recalls Siegel, now 91, an outstanding basketball player at Iowa in the early 1940s. "I waited on Lawson Little, Tommy Armour, Horton Smith, all the greats of the day.

"I think that's where Jack really got the golf bug, seeing those guys playing."

Fleck was 17 when he graduated from Davenport High School in 1939 and immediately turned pro. He was hired by Joe Brown at the Des Moines Golf & Country Club and worked there until joining the Navy.

After World War II, Fleck returned to his job in Des Moines but was out of work after the clubhouse burned down in 1946.

Fleck circled back to Davenport and landed a job as the pro at the city's Credit Island and Duck Creek courses, a job he still held when he won in 1955. Fleck would play the winter pro tour from December to March, with little success, before returning to open his two courses in the spring.

In 1955, Fleck decided to try the PGA Tour full time and gave himself two years to prove he belonged. Heading into the U.S. Open, his best finish that season had been a 10th at the Baton Rouge Open.

"I was a 'Joe Nobody,' " Fleck said. "I wasn't in the news every day, winning a lot of tournaments."

Fleck had to make it through sectional qualifying in Chicago, shooting 73-73 to get in the U.S. Open field. He then made the 1,960-mile drive from Davenport to San Francisco — in 49 hours.

Early in the 1955 season, Fleck came across a set of clubs produced by Hogan's new equipment company. He wrote Hogan, asking for a set. Hogan, to the shock of many, obliged with irons, a 3-wood and a 4-wood. Fleck became the only touring pro, other than Hogan, to use his clubs.

Hogan even delivered the last two clubs in the set, a sand wedge and a wedge, to Fleck at the Olympic Club.

Fleck was making his third Open appearance. He missed the cut in 1950 at Merion, where Hogan had come back from a near-fatal automobile accident the year before to win his second U.S. Open crown. Fleck also tied for 53rd at Oakmont in 1953, when Hogan won for a fourth time.

At Olympic, Fleck got in plenty of practice — up to 44 holes a day — in preparation for the start of play.

"People would say, 'You're playing too much, don't do that,' " Fleck said. "But I loved the course. You had to drive it to a spot. Miss it a little bit and you were in trouble. You were lucky to find your ball."

Fleck shot 76 the first round, but jumped from a tie for 21st into a tie for third with a second-round 69. Back then, the tournament ended with 36 holes on Saturday. Fleck faded with a third-round 75, but rallied with a 67 to get in the playoff.

Televised golf was in its infancy then, and leaders weren't prepared for the final round. Fleck had just bogeyed the 14th hole when Hogan finished, falling two shots back. Seven-time major champion Gene Sarazen, doing TV commentary, congratulated Hogan on the air for his fifth Open title, adding that "no one out there can catch him."

A gallery estimated at 25 people saw Fleck bogey the 14th. But he birdied the par-3 15th to get within a shot of Hogan's score. The gallery grew with each step as he parred the 16th and 17th. Needing a birdie at 18 to tie, Fleck hit a 3-wood off the tee into the first cut of rough but caught a good lie. He hit a 7-iron second shot to 7 feet and made the downhill, right-to-left putt.

No one gave Fleck a chance the next day, but he carried a one-shot lead to the 18th hole and won by three when Hogan made a double bogey to shoot 72 to Fleck's 69. Of the three sub-par rounds shot the entire championship, Fleck carded three of them.

"Hogan had been my idol since my caddy days," Fleck said. "I always thought a lot of him. He was so great to me. After that, most of the other pros would say, 'He must hate your guts.' I said, 'No, you've got that all wrong.' He was a great guy."

Back in Davenport, Siegel listened to the playoff on the radio.

"I was thinking how impossible this was," Siegel said.

Fleck returned home to a hero's welcome and a parade and was presented a new Cadillac.

He received a first-place check of $6,000 for his U.S. Open triumph, but won just twice more on the PGA Tour.

"If he just could have putted," Siegel said. "He was not a good putter, but he had every shot in the bag."

Fleck, who still owns the Bulls Eye putter he used that week at Olympic in 1955, wouldn't disagree.

"If I had putted half as well as the other guys on tour, I would have won 40 or 50 times," Fleck said. "I'd have been a miserable cuss, because I would have won so many tournaments."

That week at the Olympic Club was an exception to Fleck's career rule.

"I putted pretty good for me that week," Fleck said. "I made some 7-, 8- and 10-footers. Those were long putts for me. Goodness sakes."


Johnson and Fleck visited for several minutes after their impromptu meeting Sunday.

"We talked about the course, and how it had changed," Johnson said. "It's longer now. I heard they had cut down a lot of trees, but he said he didn't see much difference. We've met probably half-a-dozen times over the years."

Johnson is one of four native Iowans to win on the PGA Tour, joining Fleck, Jack Rule and Steve Spray. Johnson has won eight times. The other three won a combined six times.

"Zach," Fleck said, "he's doing great."

Johnson would like to make some noise in a U.S. Open for the first time in his career. His best showing, a tie for 30th, came last year at Congressional.

Fleck was the trailblazer, Iowa's first major champion. Johnson continued the legacy.

"I know there's a lot of proud Iowans that look up to Jack Fleck," Johnson said. "I'm one of them."

Year Spotlight: 1955-1956

Year Spotlight: 1955-1956

The first year-and-a-half of the rock era produced just two songs that made the all-time top 100: 23. The Great Pretender (1956) and 99. Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom) - Perry Como (1956). The rest of the songs were:

Learnin' The Blues - Frank Sinatra (1955)

A Blossom Fell - Nat "King" Cole (1955)

Ain't That a Shame - Pat Boone (1955)

Moonglow and theme From "Picnic" - Morris Stoloff (1956)

I Almost Lost My Mind - Pat Boone (1956)

Honky Tonk (parts 1 & 2) - Bill Doggett (1956)

The Green Door - Jim Lowe (1956)

Green Door made it last time, but I think '55 and '56 are well-served by just these two songs.

Dogs welcome at many tech companies

Dogs welcome at many tech companies

Zynga's got its "barking lot'' just outside the main lobby in San Francisco. Amazon offers dog biscuits at the receptionist's desk and dog-friendly water fountains around its Seattle campus. And dozens of companies in the Bay Area and beyond are listed on dog-friendly websites in case you -- and your four-legged companion -- want to check out the amenities offered by your prospective employers.

Next Friday is Take Your Dog to Work Day, and millions of pets are expected to show up at workplaces around the United States. But for many companies, notably high-tech firms in Silicon Valley, well, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day.

"We've got hundreds of dogs at Google (GOOG) everyday,'' says spokesman Jordan Newman. "We've allowed dogs to come to work since the early days because we find having your dog with you can make people more comfortable and thus more productive. Plus, it's tough owning a dog and having it sit at home all day.''

That won't be the case on Friday -- or any other day -- for Dolly, who regularly accompanies her owner Erin McCormack to work at Authentic Entertainment in Los Angeles.

"I consider it a benefit like health care. It's a huge attraction," says McCormack, a producer on the Discovery Channel's "Auction

Kings." "They are a calming force. When things get stressful, you can lean down and pet your dog or take a walk and pet a nearby dog. You get a more efficient workplace, one that's not consumed with stress."

About 1.4 million owners take some 2.3 million dogs to work every day, according to an American Pet Products Association survey. When the group last questioned businesses in 2006, one in five was dog-friendly. That number is probably holding steady if you include one-person offices, work-at-home pet owners and retail shops, said Len Kain, co-founder and editor of, which lists dog-friendly companies in every state.

"Engineering and software companies are often the type of company that is pet-friendly," Kain said. "These companies have trouble finding people with the skills they need and do not want to lose these employees."

To keep up with competitors' perks, a lot of tech companies welcome their employees' pets with open arms. At Zynga, which was named after CEO Mark Pincus' now-deceased American Bulldog, the beloved pet lives on in company lore, not just with its depiction in the corporate logo, but in name of the company's Wi-Fi network, appropriately called "puppynet.'' Like most dog-friendly firms, Zynga requires on-site animals to be registered, housebroken and to behave themselves when their owners are on the clock.

"Mark's a big dog fan,'' said a Zynga spokeswoman, "and dogs have always been a part of the Zynga culture. Employees value having their dogs with them because it lets them bring a little piece of home to work with them and that makes them happier during the day. Plus, dogs are a great conversation-starter among employees.''

At Amazon, says spokesman Ty Rogers, "dogs have walked the halls since the company first started. In fact, images of our first dog, a now-departed Corgi named Rufus, have been sprinkled across our pages for years. Rufus lives on at Amazon -- his name is stamped on the door handles of many of our offices.''

Rufus apparently triggered a real trend. Rogers says "these days, we've got everything from a large Siberian Husky to a tiny Chihuahua that regularly come to the office.''

In an attempt to be non-discriminatory, some companies are going the extra mile in their pet-friendly policies.

"Cats are welcome at Zygna,'' said the spokeswoman. "So are lizards and rabbits. And there's a lot of harmony among all these animals, too. It's surprising, but somehow it works.''

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

Dogs may be good at more than fetching sticks and greeting you after a long day at work. As it turns out, simply having them around may lessen your kids' chances of getting the common cold.

Owning a dog may improve the health of children in that household, according to new research from the University of California, San Francisco. In a study of mice, researchers found that the house dust from homes with dogs worked to protect against a common cold strain, the respiratory syncytial virus.

"Mice aren't identical to humans. There are obvious differences," explains Dr. Susan Lynch, co-investigator of the study and a professor at UCSF. "But we can do things in the animals that we could not possibly do in humans, and we can get samples to examine disease that would be very difficult to assess in humans."

Animals fed house dust from dog-owning homes did not exhibit the usual symptoms of RSV, including mucus production and lung inflammation. In fact, their symptoms were comparable to animals that weren't exposed to the virus in the first place.

So what's the big deal about RSV? It's a virus to which almost everybody has been exposed within the first few years of life. However, it can be severe -- and sometimes fatal -- in premature and chronically ill infants. It is the leading cause of bronchiolitis, which is an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, as well as pneumonia in children under 1 year of age in the United States, and it is associated with increased risk of developing asthma.

What excited researchers is that this work may help explain why pet ownership has been associated with protection against childhood asthma in the past. Their thought process is as follows: exposure to animals early in life helps "train" the immune system, which plays an integral part in asthma development. In short, there is reason to believe that germs, such as those associated with dogs, may be good for children's health under certain circumstances.

"Everybody appreciates the fact that we're all missing something big in asthma," says Dr. Robert Mellins, a pediatric pulmonologist at Columbia University in New York. "People have appreciated that viral infections clearly have an association, and this kind of experiment is interesting because it suggests a mechanism of how that could come about."

The study is far from the first to suggest the health benefits of having a canine in the family. The following are six other ways that owning a dog may improve your health and well-being.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

Dogs and Cardiovascular Health

Could owning a dog keep your heart healthy? Research has supported a connection between owning a dog and reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. In addition, a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that male dog owners were less likely to die within one year after a heart attack than those who did not own a dog.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

Dogs and Anxiety

For people with all forms of anxiety, having a dog may be an important coping mechanism. This is especially true in times of crisis. A study out of the Medical College of Virginia found that for hospitalized patients with mental health issues, therapy with animals significantly reduced anxiety levels more than conventional recreational therapy sessions.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

Dogs and Loneliness

Dogs function as important companions and family members, but certain groups may benefit more than others. The elderly, particularly those in residential care facilities, often become socially isolated once separated from immediate family. Researchers in Australia have found that dogs improved the well-being of residents by promoting their capacity to build relationships.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

Dogs and Rehabilitation

In the setting of a severe illness or prolonged hospitalization, therapy dogs can be integral in the process of rehabilitation. A review of the literature looking at the function of service dogs proved that dogs can assist people with various disabilities in performing everyday activities, thereby significantly reducing their dependence on others.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

Dogs and Activity

Before a dog is introduced into the home, the most commonly asked question is, "Who is going to walk the dog?" Turns out this responsibility may be important for the health of the family as well as the dog. Studies from the American Journal of Public Health and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine have shown that children with dogs spend more time doing moderate to vigorous activity than those without dogs, and adults with dogs walk on average almost twice as much as adults without dogs.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Health

Dogs and Doctors

With all of these specific health benefits, could dogs keep you away from the doctor altogether? A national survey out of Australia found that dog and cat owners made fewer annual doctor visits and generally had significantly lower use of general practitioner services.

8-year-old pooch ‘Mugly’ wins World’s Ugliest Dog title

8-year-old pooch ‘Mugly’ wins World’s Ugliest Dog title

Chinese crested rescue dog earns title of World's Ugliest Dog at annual contest, beating out 28 other ugly dogs for $1,000 prize and a year's worth of dog cookies

PETALUMA, Calif. — A Chinese crested’s short snout, beady eyes and white whiskers earned it the title of World’s Ugliest Dog at the annual contest in Northern California on Friday.

Competing for fame, $1,000 and a year’s worth of dog cookies, Mugly won the honor by beating out 28 other ugly dogs from around the world.

The 8-year-old rescue dog from the United Kingdom will also be invited for a photo shoot and will receive a VIP stay at the local Sheraton.

 “I couldn’t speak when they announced Mugly’s name,” said Bev Nicholson, the dog’s owner. “I didn’t know which way to look. I was shaking as much as the dog.”

It’s not the first time Mugly has been recognized for his unattractiveness. Nicholson said he was named Britain’s ugliest dog in 2005.

The contest at the Marin-Sonoma Fairgrounds gets worldwide attention, with reporters and camera crews from around the world traveling to Petaluma, about 40 miles north of San Francisco.

Organizers say the competing dogs are judged for what they term their “natural ugliness in both pedigree and mutt classes.”

Mugly’s victory was the latest for a Chinese crested. Last year’s winner, Yoda, was a Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix.

Dog Strangled by Phone Cord Saves His Own Life by Dialing Emergency Number

A Basset Hound named George saved his life by dialing 999 as he choked on a telephone cord. George, a 2-year-old Basset Hound from South Heindley, West Yorkshire, U.K., was strangled by a phone cord — and miraculously saved his own life by calling 999, the British equivalent of 911, reports The Sun.

 George knocked over a heavy-duty, old-fashioned phone in owner Steve Brown’s home; he became tangled in the cord and wound up with it wrapped around his neck. Somehow, George — in the midst of choking — managed to dial 999 with his paw. The emergency operator heard heavy breathing and gasping on the other end and alerted the authorities, who entered the house with the help of a neighbor, Paul Walker, who had a key.

Walker saw the dog choking and ripped the cord free from the phone to save him.

He told The Sun: "Incredibly you could see where his paw print was on the phone to ring 999 — he literally saved his own life."

Lydia Brown, the daughter of George's owner, expressed equal amazement at the Basset's lifesaving feat, telling The Sun, "He's really dopey and just likes to chew socks."

George isn't sounding quite so dopey now, though.