SI Vault
Curry Kirkpatrick
September 09, 1968
The new idol of anti-Establishment golfers (not to mention girls) is 19-year-old Bruce Fleisher, a cool Floridian in fringed trousers, who last week captured the National Amateur Championship
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September 09, 1968

The Teen Angel Wins

The new idol of anti-Establishment golfers (not to mention girls) is 19-year-old Bruce Fleisher, a cool Floridian in fringed trousers, who last week captured the National Amateur Championship

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On Wednesday the first threesome to come through the 8th hit two balls in the water and came off the green four over par for the hole. That was just for starters. Subsequently, the USGA men counted 36 more balls in the water that day, and then stopped counting.

Even so, it was the treacherous 14th hole that proved the most dangerous for the early leaders. The 14th demands a booming four-wood to a green that awaits with huge bunkers to the sides, a steep dropoff into bushes on the right and deep grass under trees to the left.

Bonallack was one under par when he got there and double-bogeyed. Later in the day Fleisher was two under coming to 14, and he, too, took a double bogey. As it turned out, Bonallack came in with a 71, sharing the first-round lead with Miller and Jack Veghte, the 33-year-old Florida State champion who has one of the few remaining flattop haircuts in major sports.

Veghte had started fast, going four under par for 12 holes. But, after noticing his substantial lead, he "went into complete shock" and blew to five over par in the next six holes and right out of contention the next day.

By that time Bonallack had also faltered and with another double bogey on 14 he had lost his lead. He came in from the second round at 144, only one stroke behind Fleisher and Green, but one that he was never to make up. He shot a 75 the third round and a 77 the final day to finish in a tie for 11th.

Hubert Green, a gangly, curly-haired country boy from Alabama, was on or around the lead many times during the first two days—it was a good week for Huberts—quickly forcing the word to spread that "this kid can play." The local papers, bubbling over, likened his face to everybody from Abraham Lincoln to Huckleberry Finn, and his strange putting style was generally considered entertaining.

Green uses a lady's putter and bends way over, his hands halfway down the shaft and four inches apart, his eyes peering at the ball as if it were a lost contact lens. On his stroke he resembles the janitor sweeping the gymnasium floor. Then he rolls in a 25-footer, and abruptly the guffaws stop. "Give him a cherry pop and he looks like a thermometer," said one spectator, inspecting Green's skeletal frame. But Hubert looked good on the scoreboard.

For two days he had played beside Dale Morey, the 49-year-old veteran from North Carolina, who was one of the sentimental favorites in this 68th amateur championship. Over the past few months Morey has been playing some of the finest golf of his long career, and at Scioto he was trying to fight his way back onto the Walker Cup and Eisenhower Trophy teams—he was left off both during the last selection period.

Morey showed some impressive credentials in the first 36 holes. Helped by a hole in one on the 17th during the first round and a 35-foot putt for a deuce at the same green the next day, Dale stood at 145, two strokes off the pace. But on the last two days he faltered, shooting 76-77 to finish well back.

Though Morey was popular, it was Fleisher and Green who, playing head to head on Friday, brought out the crowds and refused to wilt under all that attention in the third round. As Bonallack, whose swing had broken into many pieces and now resembled the motion of a Ferris wheel, stumbled home with his 75 and Morey with his 76, Fleisher and Green, laughing and joking as they went, staged a battle that somewhat resembled a friendly college Nassau with the loser buying the brew.

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