Mansfield High ex in position for first PGA Tour victory

Posted Sunday, May. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The legion of family and friends following Martin Flores’ every move on Saturday grew increasingly more enthusiastic with each step the Fort Worth native took up the leader board of his hometown Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Their eager approval turned into a zealous roar when Flores dropped his sixth birdie of the day, on No. 18, capping a round of 5-under-par 65 that sent the former Mansfield High School standout upward 24 spots and in position to win his first PGA Tour event in four seasons. His 65 tied for the lowest score of the day with Tim Clark.

Flores was joined by Clark, John Rollins and former Colonial champion Steve Flesch at 9 under, tied for sixth and two strokes back of leader Matt Kuchar.

“You know, I think family and friends are one of the most important things in the world,” said Flores, 30, who played in college at Oklahoma and is playing in his third Colonial.

Winning anywhere on tour is a lifelong dream, Flores said, but “absolutely, [winning] in front of family and friends would be special.”

Flores’ career-best finish is sixth at The Greenbriar Classic in West Virginia last season. He also finished eighth at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2012.

This season has been marked by inconsistency. He has missed six cuts in 14 events, though he finished in the top 10 at the Valero Texas Open.

“I’m just happy to be where I’m at,” Flores said.

Flores toured Hogan’s Alley in 26 putts, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens.

He registered birdies on Nos. 2, 4, 6, 12, 16 and 18.

“Putting the ball in position off the fairway is critical out here, especially where some of the pin locations are,” said Flores, whose birdie putt on No. 4 was a 33-footer. “It gave me some opportunities to go after some flags.”

Flores left some strokes on the course. He reached the green on the par-5 No. 1 in two, but three-putted for par.

His only glitch was a three-putt bogey on No. 17. Flores’ 48-foot birdie attempt, which required him to go uphill and over a ridge, slid 13 feet past the cup.

A comfort zone seems to be developing between Flores and Colonial. He followed up a 26th-place finish in 2012 with rounds of 66 and 70 on Thursday and Friday.

He missed the cut in his first appearance in 2010.

“I just like the golf course,” said Flores, now a Dallas resident. “I think it’s fantastic. You have to work it both ways off the tee, and the greens are perfect this week.”

Flores will wake up Sunday morning a potential winner of the 67th Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

A 12:45 p.m. pairing with Canadian Graham DeLaet, who spent a portion of Saturday in the lead, awaits.

His prescription for victory: “Birdies. As many as I can make.”

Whether birdies will be on the course, only time will tell.

But Flores’ family and buddies will be.

“I still have a lot of work to do,” Flores said. “There are a lot of great players. I’ve got to stay aggressive and continue to make birdies.”

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