Last Friday, whenthe official field for the PGA Championship was set, Steve Flesch (below) wasan outsider. As the second alternate, Flesch had hope, especially with JimFuryk nursing a back injury, but no guarantee that he would play. Thatuncertainty was particularly painful this year because 2007 would have beenFlesch's 10th straight PGA, an event at which he's made the cut seven times andtied for 10th in '05. But a slow start, which included only two top¬†25finishes (11th at Pebble Beach and a tie for fifth at the U.S. Bank), keptFlesch on pins and needles about the PGA and out of the BridgestoneInvitational. With nowhere else to play, he went to the Reno-Tahoe Open hopingto improve his lowly 140th-place standing on the FedEx Cup points list (144qualify for the first event). At Montreux Golf and Country Club, Flesch hit73.6% of the greens and averaged 1.623¬†putts per green in regulation toshoot a 15-under 273. He became the first wire-to-wire winner on Tour this yearand earned an automatic spot in the PGA. He's an insider now. . . . By the timehe gets to Tulsa, site of Southern Hills Country Club, Flesch may simply wishto be inside. The long-range forecast for Thursday through Sunday calls fordaytime highs of 98° to 100° with high humidity.
Tour RookiesBrendon de¬†Jonge and Johnson Wagner were teammates at Virginia Tech and,coincidentally or not, neither had played very well since a gunman killed 32people on campus on April 16. De¬†Jonge had missed the cut in seven of 10starts since the attack, while Wagner failed to reach the weekend in 12¬†of13. As a result the pair had stalled in their quest to retain their Tour cards,with de¬†Jonge hovering at 187th on the money list and Wagner stuck at135th. Last week the duo played in the same group during the first two roundsat Reno and, coincidentally or not, the string of bad results finally ended, asde¬†Jonge shot a seven-under 281 to tie for sixth, earning $100,500 andmoving to 165th on the money list. Wagner came in with a five-under¬†283for 12th and $52,000, elevating him to 131st.
It was a bigweekend for numbers, with Barry Bonds hitting his 755th homer, Alex Rodriguezsmacking his 500th and Tom Glavine winning his 300th game, but when it comes todigits, Tiger Woods is hard to leave out of the conversation. The BridgestoneInvitational was his 58th Tour win, and in the 25 World Golf Championships,Woods has 23 top¬†10s and 14 victories good for $18,532,500. At theBridgestone alone he's won six of nine starts and taken home $7,952,500. Inthose 25 events he has a stroke average of 67.88.
Players who have won the week before winning a major,since 1960.
A short course in Wisconsin that beckons to longhitters
WHAT The Bombers
Where Niagara, Wis.
Cost $1.8 million
Hook This nine-holer on 45¬†acres has 4,000 feet ofwaterfront on the Menominee River and a clubhouse with a bar. A newly addedrestaurant--which won an award for its Texas-style BBQ--was part of arefurbishment of the entire structure.
Fringe Benefit Great white-water rafting on the rivermeans you can experience a real water hazard.
"They're short on experience but long onheart."--PEPPER MILL, PAGE G18
For the Tip of the Day, go to GOLF.com.
Despite a rough pro debut, in which he shot 78-71 to miss the cut at theReno-Tahoe Open, 16-year-old Tadd Fujikawa didn't have any second thoughtsabout his decision.
COURTESY OF COLDWELL BANKER (THE BOMBERS)