Steve Flesch is bogey-free on the Horrible Horseshoe this week. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Steve Flesch has to know the odds. There's a couple dozen players within reasonable striking distance Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, and he's two shots behind Matt Kuchar with several players in between. He's also 46, having not played a full four rounds on the PGA TOUR in nearly two years.
Then again, what if?
Flesch turned 46 on Thursday, and he's celebrated by shooting 68-64-69 to give him a shot at a second Colonial title. He won the first in 2004, giving him a spot in the field virtually as long as he wants it. Even though he's built a nice side career as an analyst on Golf Channel, Flesch would love to pull a shocker Sunday in Fort Worth.
That would do a number of things for him, most notably, provide (nearly) a clear path to the Champions Tour, which he will join in 2017.
There's only been two winners over the age of 40 on the PGA TOUR this year (Brian Gay, 41, and Phil Mickelson, 42). Other that those two, the oldest winner has been (gasp) 37-year-old Tiger Woods.
It's been nearly three years since a player 46 years or older has won on TOUR: Rocco Mediate was 47 when he won the Frys.com Open. Mediate used a two-year exemption to blaze his path to the Champions Tour, where he's already become one of the best players on the over-50 circuit.
Flesch hasn't been fully exempt since 2011, and he endured a 2012 season in which he didn't even break 70 in 25 tries.
"I didn't make a cut, and I played hurt," Flesch said earlier this week. "And after a year like last year, and missing the cut again last week, you just kind of never know.
"I know I have it in me. But until you actually do it and prove it to yourself, it's a tough hurdle. It's more mental than it is physical. You just have to trust what you're doing and keep working at it."
Flesch had to rally to break 70 Saturday. He birdied the last two holes to earn a tee time only 40 minutes ahead of the leaders on Sunday, which means this 46-year-old was able to sleep late in preparation for his biggest round in years.
In the big picture, a victory may not be needed. Flesch has to earn nearly $650,000 in only six events to get his card back -- he took a Major Medical Exemption for 2013 -- and a solo second-place finish would take care of that.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Steve Flesch turned 46 years old on Thursday but was too tired to celebrate his birthday. An afternoon tee time and the stress of making just his third start on the PGA TOUR this year had worn him out.
But he'll be in a festive mood Friday night, particularly after a 6-under 64 that vaulted him near the top of the leaderboard in the second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. It also ends a streak of 16 consecutive missed cuts; his last made cut was the 2011 Frys.com Open.
"Maybe tonight we will actually have a birthday dinner," Flesch said, "and I will have a couple of cold ones."
Although Flesch is a past champion at Colonial, having won here in 2004, he has never gone lower in a single round. Friday was his 53rd round in this event. He certainly knows his way around here.
"I told my wife when we drove over here Sunday afternoon it's kind of like coming home," Flesch said. "... It's just a place I feel really comfortable."
Flesch has seen limited action on TOUR this year as he juggles his duties on the Golf Channel. He played in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February, and then played in last week's HP Byron Nelson Championship. He missed the cut in both starts.
He also missed the cut in all 12 of his TOUR starts last year. He entered 2013 needing to earn $647,510 in six events to extend his non-exempt Major Medical Extension due to right shoulder surgery.
A big weekend could get him there.
"I've honestly been playing hurt for the last two years," he said. "It isn't much fun. Last year was no fun at all. I'm finally healthy and it's nice to play."
Check out the top five shots of the week from the Wells Fargo Championship and the Insperity Championship featuring highlights from Steve Flesch, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Arnold Palmer, and Webb Simpson.
Jhonattan Vegas shoots an 8-under 63 to tie William McGirt for the overnight lead.
EDISON, N.J. – Steve Flesch has become the fourth player to withdraw from The Barclays, stopping after nine holes of his second round while suffering from a sinus headache.
Flesch came into the week ranked 121st and will not earn any FedExCup points. So he will miss next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship and the rest of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Stuart Appleby and Chris Couch withdrew prior to the start of their second rounds, citing back injuries. Pat Perez withdrew on Thursday after his first round.