It happened where many ' including Steve himself ' thought hed break through. In his first two years on tour, Flesch finished second in the New Orleans tournament. I didnt want to make it three second-place finishes here, he said, while cradling the championship trophy. New Orleans has been so special to me.
The last time Flesch finished first was at the 1997 Nike Tour Championship. The year-ending event earned Steve his membership on the PGA Tour. Since that time, hed done everything but win. In his very first year on tour, Flesch racked up five top-10 finishes and finished 35th on the money list. Surely, victory would come soon.
His tour card has never been in jeopardy. His lowest finish on the money list has been 75th. In just his third year on tour, Steve collected 13 top-10s, earned more than $1 million and finished 13th on the money list. Surely, victory would come soon.
Six more top-10s in his fourth year, 2001. Seven more top-10s last year. Four more top-10s this year, before New Orleans. In his 5 1/2 years on tour, heading to New Orleans, Flesch had finished in the top 10 38 times. He had become a multi-millionaire, totaling more than $6 million in prize money. Surely, victory would come soon.
Alas, it is finally here. When his improbable winning birdie putt slammed into the hole, Flesch bounded across the green with unabashed, exhilarated joy. I really didnt think itd take me this long to win, he said. Few people did.
Flesch gives much credit for his win to his four-year-old son, Griffin. After every tournament this year, hed ask me if I won a trophy, Steve recounted. I thought Id been playing pretty well. But, Griffin kept wondering why I didnt win Weve been looking forward to this for a long time.
Griffs father turns 36 later this month. One would think it wont take dad another 5 1/2 years to collect win No. 2. It took him 174 PGA Tour starts to get this one.
My biggest battle is always just hanging in there long enough. Im always trying my butt off, but sometimes I just think that there is no way I can win, he said.
Well, Flesch is now the seventh lefty to win in tour history. Who would have bet that four months into the season, two left-handers would have won and neither one would be Phil Mickelson?
Flesch now stands eighth on the 2003 money list with his earnings of nearly $1.4 million. The winners check of $900,000 puts his career mark over $7 million.
He has now done everything and win.