Flesch earns second PGA victory
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Steve Flesch lost his focus when he realized he had a two-stroke lead with two holes to play at the Colonial.
That momentary 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 stroke 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, the 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.
Stephen Ames' 64, the best round of the day, put him in third place at 271. It was his fourth straight top-10 finish and fifth in six events. He also finished 13th at the Players Championship.
"Unfortunately, I'm only doing it on Sundays," said Ames, who has been below 70 in nine of his 12 Sunday rounds this year.
Craig Perks (68) was fourth, his best finish since his only win at the 2002 Players Championship.
Jesper Parnevik, who hasn't won in three years, was within a stroke of the lead when he started his back nine. He fell out of contention with a 41 on the back nine that included three bogeys, a triple bogey, double bogey and two birdies.
Brian Gay, playing in the last group, saw his chance for his first PGA Tour win end when he lost three strokes in two holes after starting with eight straight pars.
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 7th 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.
Parnevik started his round with an eagle at No. 1, hitting a shot 268 yards from a fairway bunker to 12 feet. By the time he finished his front nine with consecutive birdies, he was 9 under and a stroke within Flesch and Campbell.
Then the struggles began.
After missing the fairway left at No. 10, Parnevik hit out of a greenside bunker 24 feet past the hole and bogeyed. He got that stroke back when with a 3-foot birdie, despite finding another bunker at No. 11.
Parnevik missed the green with his approach at No. 12, and couldn't make the 19-foot par save. At the par-3 13th, his tee shot dropped in the water and he wound up with double bogey.
His 72 left him tied for 14th at 3-under 277, the same as Gay (75).
"It's a positive. It's better than I've been doing," said Gay, who had missed four of five cuts since also finishing 14th at the BellSouth Classic.
Gay was steady until missing the fairway at No. 9 and having to lay up in front of the water surrounding the green. His 16-foot par putt lipped out. A double bogey followed when he hit the ball way right at No. 10, took a drop and then hit over the green.
Notes: Brian Bateman had a closing 1-over 71 after 14 straight rounds at par or better, making Ernie Els' 12 rounds of par or better the longest active streak on tour. Els competed in the Deutsche Bank Open in Germany this week. ... Sergio Garcia started with three straight birdies, but that's all he had. The 2001 Colonial champ, who won last week's Byron Nelson, was 2 over the rest of his round of 69. He finished 1-over 281, the same as Mickelson and Davis Love III, the only players ranked higher than him in the tournament. ... Defending champion Kenny Perry, whose record 19 under last year came in during a week best known for Annika Sorenstam being the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour, had a closing 68. He was 4 under.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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