Sunday, July 09, 2000

Flesch shares Western lead

Woods 6 behind him, Henninger

Enquirer news services

Steve Flesch
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        LEMONT, Ill. — Northern Kentuckian Steve Flesch is in position today to become the first Cincinnati native to win a PGA Tour event since Bob Lohr in the 1988 Disney Classic.

        Flesch shares the lead with Brian Henninger in the Western Open after three rounds. Both wasted chances to pull away from the rest of the field Saturday, finishing the day tied at 13-under-par 203 after 54 holes. Henninger bogeyed the 18th hole while Flesch had three bogeys on the last seven holes.

        That left Tiger Woods just six strokes back at 7-under 209. A large deficit, perhaps, but certainly not impossible, especially for Woods. He dominated the rest of the field in the U.S. Open, winning it by a whopping 15 strokes.

        For a while, both Flesch and Henninger looked as if they might make things tough on everybody else in today's final round. Flesch was superb early, eagling the par-5 fifth and adding three more birdies on the front nine.

  During Saturday's Western Open telecast, ABC commentator and two-time U.S. Open winner Curtis Strange said of Northern Kentucky left-hander Steve Flesch:
  “He is probably the best player on the PGA Tour who hasn't won yet. He'll get his chances. He's got a good, good swing, and he's powerfully long for a guy with a slight build (5-11, 155 pounds).”
  Echoed fellow broadcaster and tour veteran Steve Melnyk: “It's just a matter of time before Mr. Flesch breaks through (and wins).”
  — Jack Murray
        Flesch moved to 14 under with a birdie on the par-5 11th. Then things went haywire. He bogeyed two par-3s, the 12th and the 14th, then birdied the par-5 15th. He gave the stroke right back with a bogey on the par-4 17th.

        The Covington Catholic High and University of Kentucky grad finished with a birdie on No. 18 that looked like something from Caddyshack. His 12-foot putt rolled right to the edge of the cup, hung there for three seconds before finally dropping in.

        “Six birdies, one eagle and four bogeys. That's as erratic as you can get, isn't it?” Flesch said. “I was making everybody in the crowd feel good because I was playing like a lot of them do.”

        Flesch, a left-hander, is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. Henninger has won twice.

        Flesch is determined not to force it. “I've had my chances,” he said. “I've had a bunch of top 10s. I'm trying not to press it.”

        As for Woods, “I need a seeing-eye dog out there, basically. I'm putting so bad it's a joke. But the good news is, putting terrible, I'm still 7 under. Not a bad thing.”


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