Fleisher Flashes to the Top

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2004 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock BarnCONOVER, N.C. -- Bruce Fleisher fired a 7-under 65 on Saturday to cruise into the lead after two rounds of the Greater Hickory Classic. He stands at 9-under-par 135 and leads by three over Doug Tewell and overnight leader Mark Lye.
 
Jerry Pate, in search of his first victory on the Champions Tour, carded a 5-under 67 and is tied for fourth place with Larry Nelson, who posted a 69 on Saturday. The duo is knotted at 5-under-par 139.
 
For a little while it did not look like the second round would be completed. Heavy rain came up when the final threesome was on the 17th and players and spectators were taken off Rock Barn Golf Club and Spa.
 
There was a 45-minute delay and the final two groups completed their rounds and will be able to sleep in Sunday morning.
 
Fleisher was 1 under on his round by the time he reached the ninth. At that hole, Fleisher sank a 15-foot birdie putt to get to 4 under for the championship. He drained a 6-footer for birdie at the 10th for his second in a row.
 
Fleisher, the 2001 U.S. Senior Open winner, birdied No. 12 then rolled in a 14-foot birdie putt at the 15th to take the lead at minus-7. He made it two in a row at 16 when his sand-wedge approach stopped 2 feet from the stick.
 
At Rock Barn's closing hole, a par-5, Fleisher chipped to 2 feet with his third shot. He cashed in on the birdie chance to roll into his second 36-hole lead of the season.
 
'It was a pretty good, solid round,' said Fleisher, who also held the lead with one round to go at the Bruno's Memorial Classic in May and went on to win. 'Everybody can go low out here, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow.'
 
Fleisher also won the Royal Caribbean Golf Classic very early in the season and has developed into one of the Champions Tour's most difficult men to catch on Sunday. He has won 12 of 16 on the elder circuit after two rounds, including his last two in a row.
 
'I'm going to go out and try to do the same thing I've been doing the last two days,' said Fleisher. 'I can't look back. I have to keep going and hopefully make some birdies.'
 
Tewell, a seven-time winner on the 50-and-over tour, kept plodding along with pars until a birdie at No. 8. He ran home a 10-foot birdie putt at 11, then made another birdie at 15 for a 69 and a reasonable chance at catching Fleisher.
 
Lye, who had surgery after the Senior PGA Championship, mixed three birdies and four bogeys in his round, but holed a 25-foot birdie putt at the 17th. He was headed to the 18th tee when the horn sounded.
 
He parred No. 18 to shoot an even-par 72. Lye is in the mix for his first victory since the 1983 Bank of Boston Classic, his lone win on the PGA Tour.
 
Joe Inman (67), Morris Hatalsky (67), Bob Charles (69), Jay Sigel (70), Jim Thorpe (71) and Bobby Wadkins (73) are tied for sixth place at 4-under-par 140.
 
Eduardo Romero, who made his Champions Tour debut at the Senior British Open, is playing for the first time on the elder circuit in the United States. He shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday and is part of a group in a tie for 12th at minus-3.
 
Defending champion Craig Stadler carded a 1-over 73 and is tied for 27th place at even-par 144.
 
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