Flesch Looks to Match Hogans Defense

By Associated PressMay 18, 2005, 4:00 pm
FT. WORTH, Texas -- Steve Flesch is constantly tinkering with his game. He's always changing balls and trying different techniques. Rarely does the same putter make it through a tournament.
 
When Flesch is at home, he doesn't even hit balls on the range. That would be too mundane and boring for the left-handed swinger.
 
Steve Flesch
Steve Flesch plays around during Wednesday's pro-am at Colonial.
Yet, when Flesch returned to the Colonial this week as the defending champion, the most comforting thing he found was that it's still the same old course.
 
'Nothing has changed. It's just a good test of golf,' he said. 'It just suits my game. I feel really comfortable here, obviously.'
 
Hogan's Alley really hasn't changed much since its namesake was the only golfer to win consecutive Colonials - doing that twice more than a half-century ago (1946-47, 1952-53).
 
There are tree-lined fairways, plenty of doglegs and some difficult par 3s on the longest-serving host course for a PGA Tour event. The par-70, 7,054-yard course isn't like so many modern-day layouts where length is at a premium.
 
'The farther you hit it here, the more trouble there is,' Chris DiMarco said.
 
'There are not many courses like this left,' David Toms said. 'The ball runs in the fairways, and you have to control your shape off the tee, and into the green. And we have the wind to contend with.'
 
Tiger Woods, who missed the cut last weekend at the Byron Nelson Championship, doesn't play here because the course doesn't suit his game. His only appearance was 1997.
 
Vijay Singh also is skipping the second half of the Texas two-step for the third straight year.
 
Still, the Colonial tees off Thursday with four of the top six from the money list.
 
Phil Mickelson, the 2000 Colonial champion who is No. 2 in earnings, is the highest-ranked player in the field. Toms, DiMarco and Fred Funk are the others.
 
Only Flesch has the chance to join Ben Hogan by going back-to-back here.
 
Flesch has been reminded of that often. During a practice round, a playing partner pointed to a wall near the No. 1 tee where the names of the yearly winners are engraved, along with the expanded gap since Hogan's last repeat victory in 1953.
 
'I'm like, `Thanks, like I don't already know that,' ' Flesch said. 'But he said, `Well, you're the only guy that has a chance this week.' That's a good way to look at it. It's got to be done again by somebody, especially if you like the course as much as I do.'
 
Flesch has a streak of eight straight sub-par rounds at Colonial, a feat not even Hogan accomplished. Only former champions David Frost and Kenny Perry have matched that.
 
'It's the type of course I grew up on and enjoy playing,' Flesch said. 'Even if I was playing my worst golf coming in, I think I would be comfortable. It's kind of like coming home.'
 
His scoring average of 69 is the best for any golfer with at least six appearances at the Colonial, which is sponsored by Bank of America.
 
That success hasn't carried over to other courses.
 
A month after winning the Colonial on his 37th birthday for only his second PGA Tour victory, Flesch tied for seventh at the U.S. Open. He has played 28 official events since without a top-20 finish.
 
And he's changed a lot of putters. Even during last year's Colonial, he used two different ones.
 
'I'm just not loyal to a certain look or a certain type,' Flesch said. 'It all just depends on kind of how I'm feeling. I don't know anybody else that jumps around as much as I do. It's kind of a game to me.'
 
Flesch has about 150 putters in the basement of his home in Union, Ky., and usually brings four of them to each tournament. He also has about 100 drivers, though he has used the same set of irons for about two years.
 
Instead of the driving range, Flesch spends his practice time playing a six-hole loop on a course that surrounds his home. He carries two full bags of different clubs and balls on his cart, using countless combinations during two-hour sessions after dropping his children off at school.
 
When playing in the same events as Mike Weir, Flesch likes to check out the bag of the fellow left-hander and then show his latest clubs.
 
'It's funny. It's comical. It works for him,' Weir said. 'Vijay has switched putters a number of times and there are a lot of guys that switch around, and Steve is one of the best.'
 
Related Links:
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.