Big Play Steve Flesch showed a veteran's cool with a wise layup on the 72nd hole at New Orleans, leading to the par that keyed his first Tour win

May 11, 2003

Tour players are driven by one thing--winning--and those who
haven't won are obsessed by the gaping hole on their resumes.
Many winless pros come undone when they get in contention because
they try too hard to force the action. Heading into last week's
HP Classic, Steve Flesch had gone without a Tour victory in 14
pro seasons, but on Sunday the 35-year-old lefty prevailed thanks
to his tremendous poise. Only a shot off the lead at English
Turn's 18th tee, Flesch was playing for birdie and the win, but
he drove into a fairway bunker at the 471-yard par-4, his ball
coming to rest near a tall lip. This was the moment of truth:
Would Flesch make a reckless play and blow himself out of the
tournament? Would he let his mind wander back to an agonizing
miss of a long birdie putt at 17? Would he be haunted by all
those years of futility on mini-tours from India to Indiana?
Flesch answered with a resounding no by smartly laying up with a
five-iron (above) and then knocking an 80-yard lob wedge to seven
feet. He drilled the par putt, and then, after Bob Estes forced a
playoff, Flesch hit two clutch shots on the first playoff hole
and buried a career-defining 35-footer for birdie to clinch the
first of what I predict will be several victories.

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CBS (FLESCH) COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT (5) Wayne DeFrancesco, the 2001 National Club Pro champ, teaches at Woodholme Country Club in Baltimore and is one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers. FOUR COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT (5)/JIM GUND (BACKGROUND)

THE TIP

SWINGING A GOLF CLUB is a lot like throwing a ball sidearm; if
you pitch righthanded, this dominant arm should drive your swing.
This drill will help you use your throwing motion to groove the
basic motion of your swing (torso movement, hip rotation and
weight transfer): Stand at address, holding a ball six inches
from a pole (1). Throw the ball with a low sidearm motion (2),
aiming to keep your hand inside the pole and at the same height
it was at address (3) on the way to the follow-through
(4).

OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...

"Lost in the debate about technology is that the fans want to
see low winning scores, like the 21 under that prevailed in New
Orleans. Traditionalists may prefer to have three-iron shots
bounce and roll 20 feet, but an eight-iron that sucks back to the
cup will always get a bigger roar. "

"Keep an eye on Mark Wilson, the rookie who finished fourth
in New Orleans. Like his hero, Ben Hogan, Wilson has a flat swing
that is aggressive, compact and extremely effective.

"While many fortysomething players whine about being outbombed
by youngsters, Jay Haas is flourishing at 49. Why? Just like
when we were teammates at Wake Forest, Jay puts his energy into
practicing rather than complaining."

"Sergio Garcia is playing with fire by trying to radically
overhaul such a unique and natural swing action."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)