Monday, May 24, 2004

Colonial is right up lefty Flesch's alley


Birthday boy, 37, wins second
PGA Tour tournament

The Associated Press

STEVE FLESCH FILE

Born: May 23, 1967 in Cincinnati.

Residence: Union, Ky.; plays out of Triple Crown Country Club.

High school: Covington Catholic.

College: University of Kentucky.

Turned pro: 1990.

Joined PGA Tour: 1998.

Career earnings: Approximately $10 million.

PGA Tour wins (2): 2003 HP Classic at New Orleans (the seventh left-hander to win a tour event);

2004 Bank of America Colonial.

Nationwide Tour wins (1): 1997 Tour Championship.

International wins (1): Benson & Hedges Malaysian Open.

Career highlights: Voted 1998 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year by his peers. ... Ranked second in top-10 finishes behind Tiger Woods during 2000 with 13. ... Three times runner-up before 2003 New Orleans victory in his 174th PGA Tour start in six years.

Noteworthy: Began game right-handed before switching to natural left side.

FORT WORTH, Texas - Northern Kentuckian Steve Flesch lost focus when he realized he had a two-stroke lead with two holes to play at the Colonial.

That lapse cost him a stroke, but not his second PGA Tour win.

Even after missing the 17th green with an approach shot from the middle of the fairway and then needing two chips before making bogey, Flesch won the Colonial on Sunday with an 11-under 269 total, one ahead of Chad Campbell.

Flesch was the only golfer with four straight rounds in the 60s. The left-hander's closing 3-under 67 came on his 37th birthday.

A week after withdrawing from the Byron Nelson Championship because of a sore back and mental fatigue, Flesch was feeling fine wearing the winner's plaid jacket at Hogan's Alley.

"I wouldn't change the way any of it worked out," Flesch said. "I was tired from playing so many events. Physically, I think I can play every week but mentally, I can't. That's the best decision I've made all year."

Flesch also got a $954,000 winner's check, biggest in his seven PGA Tour seasons, and moved to ninth in the Ryder Cup standings.

Flesch, having already missed three birdie chances of 5 feet or less, curled in a 16-footer at the 188-yard 16th hole. He was in the middle of the 17th fairway at 12 under, two strokes ahead of Campbell. But he missed the green, and left his chip in the rough. Once Flesch got on the putting surface, he sank a 5-footer to salvage bogey. He recovered with a closing par.

"I hit it so well, it would have been a shame not to win," Flesch said. "This is a ballstrikers' course. It's not a power course. If I had a chance, it was here."

Flesch's other win came at the 2003 HP Classic of New Orleans. He had two top-10 finishes in his first 15 tournaments this year, including a tie for fifth at the Wachovia Championship before withdrawing last week.

Campbell, who charged into a tie for the lead with a course record-tying 61 Saturday, couldn't take advantage of Flesch's mistake. At No. 16, he rolled a 13-foot birdie putt 3 feet past, then bogeyed 17 after his approach landed in a greenside bunker.

"That was a stupid bogey on 17," Campbell said. "I guess I used up my luck (Saturday). After that last round, it's hard to come back."

Campbell made a 5-foot birdie putt at the 433-yard 18th to finish alone in second after a closing 68.

After starting the round in a three-way tie for the lead, Flesch didn't have sole possession of the lead until a 6-foot birdie on the 432-yard seventh hole. He had two short birdie misses in three holes before blasting to 11 feet from a greenside bunker at the 611-yard 11th to get to 11 under.

LPGA TOUR: Sherri Steinhauer, a 19-year tour veteran, shot a 2-under 69 to win the Sybase Classic by two strokes at New Rochelle, N.Y. It was Steinhauer's sixth career victory and the first since 1999.

Grace Park, who took over the money lead from Annika Sorenstam, was second after a 68.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: D.A. Weibring shot an even-par 71 in blustery, overcast conditions to win the Allianz Championship at West Des Moines, Iowa, by three strokes. He survived an early double bogey and challenges by Tom Watson and Tom Kite to win for the second time on the Champions Tour. Weibring finished at 9-under 204.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Trevor Immelman birdied the final hole and beat defending champion Padraig Harrington by a stroke to win the Deutsche Bank Open in St. Leon-Rot, Germany.




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