Flesch nearly ties course record, tied with Pernice for second round lead at RTO | NevadaAppeal.com

Flesch nearly ties course record, tied with Pernice for second round lead at RTO

Jeremy Evans

RENO — Steve Flesch woke up Friday morning in pain with a sinus migraine headache. When the day was over, Flesch was tied atop the leader board with Tom Pernice Jr. and Ben Crane at the 4th annual Reno-Tahoe Open.

“I wasn’t really expecting to play well today,” Flesch said. “All I was thinking about was getting rid of this sinus headache. They always say ‘Look out for the guy who is sick.’

Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up with another one.”

Flesch will certainly pop more Advil if it meant winning here at Montreux Golf and Country Club. If he duplicates Friday’s second round score of 8-under 64, Flesch should erase the idea that he’s the best player on the PGA Tour to have never won a tournament.

“It would be kind of nice to get rid of that label,” said Flesch, who’s finished in second place three times during his four years on tour. “I really haven’t played that well this year. I finished tied for 17th at the PGA but I was hitting the ball terrible. I haven’t played well enough to even think about winning. I feel like the whole year has been a struggle.”

The same could be said of Pernice, who shot a 4-under 68 to move, along with Flesch and Crane, to 10-under for the tournament. The 42-year-old Pernice has had only one top-10 finish this year and has had to make several adjustments to his swing just this summer to keep from getting into a funk.

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“I’ve really been disappointed with the way I’ve been hitting the ball after not making the cut in Milwaukee,” said Pernice, whose best finish this year was sixth at the Shell Houston Open. “I came back to The International and was a bit rusty. Now I’m seeing it come around.”

Duffy Waldorf and Jonathan Kaye are both one shot of the leaders at 9-under. Charles Howell, the first round leader at 7-under, shot a 1-over 73 on Friday to fall four shots back of the leaders. Bob Tway and Rod Pampling are at 8-under.

Pernice, who shot a 6-under 66 in Thursday’s first round, is playing for the first time in the RTO. He likes mountain courses, as one of his only two career wins came at The International in Castle Pines, Colo., the only course on tour with a higher elevation than Montreux.

“For some reason, I can handle the greens. I have just a knack about it,” said Pernice, who had an up and down round consisting of seven birdies and three bogeys.

Flesch nearly tied the course record of 63, held by inaugural RTO winner Notah Begay Jr. But on No. 18, Flesch’s drive ended up in the rough and his second shot landed in the green-side bunker. He was unable to get up and down for par and picked up his only bogey of the day.

Still, he played the first five holes at 5-under and knew he would have a good day.

“Really in a nutshell, I hit a lot of great shots today,” Flesch said. “All of sudden when you’re 4-under thru five holes, you start freeing it up a little bit more. (The) course record never crossed my mind. I wasn’t even thinking 10 or 11 under. I was playing each hole as it came and I think that’s why I played so well.”

With over a dozen players within three shots of the lead and 25 guys within five shots, Pernice said this tournament isn’t even close to being over.

“The wind and how firm the greens are will make the difference. It’s too early to worry about what the winning score is going to be.”

Dido for Crane.

“If I start looking at numbers and doing that, I’m not looking at the present,” said Crane, who finished second at the Byron Nelson Classic. “I’m not looking at the leader board, but it’s an adrenaline rush when you’re contending.”