Fleisher credits confidence, ARPwave for recent successOctober 09, 2008
Lauren Deason, PGATOUR.COM Editorial Coordinator
BALTIMORE, Md. -- Bruce Fleisher plopped down in the interviewee's chair in the Media Center at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship and picked up the latest issue of "Golfweek" that was lying on a table in front of him.
Bruce Fleisher in 2008 Date Tournament Finish 2/10/2008 Allianz Championship T42 2/17/2008 The ACE Group Classic T25 3/9/2008 Toshiba Classic T36 3/16/2008 AT&T Champions Classic T43 3/30/2008 Ginn Championship Hammock Beach Resort T31 4/20/2008 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am T22 4/27/2008 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf T26 5/4/2008 FedEx Kinko's Classic T49 5/18/2008 Regions Charity Classic T30 5/25/2008 Senior PGA Championship T16 6/1/2008 The Principal Charity Classic T67 6/22/2008 Bank of America Championship T32 6/29/2008 Commerce Bank Championship T14 7/6/2008 Dick's Sporting Goods Open T32 7/20/2008 3M Championship T39 8/3/2008 U.S. Senior Open Championship DQ 8/17/2008 JELD-WEN Tradition T31 8/24/2008 Boeing Classic T7 8/31/2008 Walmart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach T41 9/14/2008 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn T13 9/28/2008 SAS Championship T5
The cover featured young Camilo Villegas in his famous Spider-Man crouch, reading a putt in a flexible, push up-like position.
Fleisher, who turns 60 next week, could only chuckle.
"When you learn to do that move, you've arrived," he said. "It's my next goal, in my next life."
The 59-year-old Fleisher won the U.S. Amateur in 1968, which was 40 years ago and 14 years before Villegas was even born.
"I kind of cringe (when he hears people mention the U.S. Amateur). That was 40 years ago this year. Those were the wonder years. That was when golf was so different, so much more fun," Fleisher said.
After a quarter of a century on the PGA TOUR, where he earned one victory, Fleisher joined the Champions Tour in 1999 and won 18 times over a span of six years. His last victory, though, came at the Bruno's Memorial Classic in 2004.
"Has it been that long? One of the beautiful things out here, when they introduce you on the first tee, they go through your bio of the things you've done. It's always 'Bruce Fleisher, 18 Champions Tour wins'. I get this chill that goes through me," he said. "Then, when you go that long without winning, it's difficult to climb back up, to scratch your way back up. It certainly becomes harder and harder but I think it can be done. There have been guys 60, 59 who have won."
Then it hit him again -- he hadn't won in almost five years.
"Five years, huh? Thanks. Thanks for reminding me," Fleisher said. "Maybe I need a good kick to remind me."
But lately he has experienced that kick and has seen a rebirth in his results. Last season, he didn't finish inside the top 50 on the money list for the first time in his Champions Tour career. Even during the first half of this year, Fleisher didn't play well enough to earn any top-10s.
Then, four events ago at the Boeing Classic, he tied for seventh. He finished with a share of 13th two tournaments later and was the 36-hole leader at the most recent tournament, the SAS Championship, before winding up in a tie for fifth.
In his first round at Baltimore Country Club, Fleisher fired a 5-under 65 and is tied for the lead. Four straight birdies from Nos. 2-5 on the front nine, plus an additional birdie at No. 8, helped him make the turn in 30 strokes. He closed with a one-bogey, one-birdie back nine.
"Though my length is lacking, I'm able to get it somewhere around the greens or on the greens. I've been able to convert and make those good shots," Fleisher said. "It was a good solid round of golf with very, very few mistakes."
At first he was at a loss to explain why he'd been playing so well lately.
"If I knew, I'd write a book," Fleisher admitted, then added it could have to do with momentum. "It was fun today. I really didn't anticipate this at all. I did play well at SAS, where I had my chances. Anytime you play well, it gives you a lift and I have been playing well of late."
There's one thing he knows definitely hasn't contributed to his recent play -- a swing change.
"I'm too old to start new. I'm going to be 60 next week. I try to look at the yard stick, what do I have in front of me versus behind me? To go after something new at this point is kind of silly," he said. "Obviously everybody wants to tinker around. We all do it, whether it's with equipment or exercise, but I think I'm just going to have to be satisfied hitting it 260, 265 yards. I think that's all I got."
Fleisher hit six out of seven fairways on his front nine and five out of seven on the back nine. He also hit the green in regulation 14 times in 18 tries on Thursday. Both of those factors helped him gain the lead.
But is there something else that has helped the Florida resident find his game again?
Toward the end of his interview, it was like a light bulb went off above Fleisher's head and it dawned on him that there could be a different explanation for his recent resurgence.
A little over a month ago, Peter Jacobsen introduced him to the ARPwave, a portable "Accelerated Recovery Program" machine that sends a bio-electrical current into a muscle and speeds up the body's natural healing process. It forces muscles to expand, which increases blood flow to the area and, in turn, helps it heal.
"What this machine supposedly does, or what I think it does, is send wavelengths to the brain that allow blood to flow to the inflamed areas, wherever is inflamed in the body. It stretches and strengthens muscles," he said. "That's how I'm stretching in the morning -- a quick 10-minute program. It's very simple, very quick and has certainly given me energy."
Fleisher started using the technology at the 3M Championship in Minnesota and has played well ever since.
"I had a great week in Seattle, played good in Hickory, at the SAS, and am off to a good start here. Not to be superstitious but I think there something to it," Fleisher said. "Right now, my legs are tired but, when I go back home, three minutes later I'll be good as new."
Will he be energized enough for a Spider-Man-like crouch? Maybe not, but the man with the full name Bruce Lee Fleisher is hoping to rise to this week's major challenge like a superhero.
"These guys love challenges. That's what this Tour is all about. It's a competitive tour, whether it's Nicky Price, Mark O'Meara, Tom Kite, unfortunately Tom Watson is not here, but these guys love the challenge," Fleisher said. "I like it to a point. I like for it to be a little easier. That's just my selfishness or the way I play golf.
"But, back home, I play on a course that's almost 7,400 yards and I go all the way to the back tees. I have no business going back there but I just love that challenge."