Flesch, despite demons at 9th, leads at Atunyote

Count just 17 of the holes at Atunyote Golf Club, and Steve Flesch would have a healthy lead going into the last two rounds of the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

However, you have to count them all. And it's that other hole -- the 9th, to be specific - that's got Flesch clinging to a one-shot advantage over Brendon de Jonge and Jeff Gove with the weekend still ahead.

Back in his opening-round 66, Flesch made a mess of the 9th, a 480-yard, uphill par-4 that's been the toughest hole at Atunyote so far. Flesch drove into a bunker, didn't get out with his first escape attempt, and made double bogey, ultimately costing him the Thursday lead as his 66 left him one stroke behind Gove and Chad Campbell.

Fast-forward to Friday afternoon. Flesch began his round at no. 10 and promptly made five consecutive 3's -- birdie, par, eagle, birdie, birdie. When he birdied 18, he turned in 30, and had caught de Jonge, who already has posted his 66.

Cooling off a bit, Flesch still birdied holes 2 and 8 on the front nine, leading him back to the dreaded 9th. His drive and approach were fine this time around -- but he three-putted for a bogey.

Thus, Flesch, after his Friday 65, is at 13-under-par 131. The 40-year-old left-hander from Kentucky has three PGA Tour wins to his credit, the most recent coming in August at the Reno-Tahoe Open, and he played in two events of this year's FedEx Cup playoffs before being eliminated at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

In other words, Flesch has the game, and experience, to stay in front through the weekend -- something his closest pursuers haven't proven yet.

De Jonge, a 27-year-old originally from Zimbabwe, played his college golf at Virginia Tech and found a comfort zone with playing partner Johnson Wagner, also a VT grad. He took the lead in the morning and held it with his second consecutive 66, which featured an eagle at the par-5 5th hole, his second eagle of the week.

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