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May 26 2013

10:14 AM

Flesch, 46, looks to surprise Sunday

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.

 

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