Golf

Mansfield ex Martin Flores in hunt at Byron Nelson

Martin Flores, shown here at the Wells Fargo Championships two weeks ago, is bunched near the top.
Martin Flores, shown here at the Wells Fargo Championships two weeks ago, is bunched near the top. AP

Martin Flores is more than accustomed to the conditions presented by the saturated course at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.

The sometimes-burdensome weather experiences in a PGA Tour season might be matched only by the Flores family’s annual New Year’s Eve Tamale Open.

“Rain, shine or snow, we play unless they tell us we can’t,” Flores said.

So, in the muddied conditions another local boy not named Jordan Spieth made a significant move up the leader board by keeping the ball in good position.

The Fort Worth native and Mansfield-reared Flores fired a 5-under-par 64 at the AT&T Byron Nelson to climb into position to capture his first PGA victory.

Flores, who is seeking his first top 10 of 2015, was aggressive in soft conditions and gave himself opportunities, which he cashed in with seven birdies and a bogey. When the sun had set, Flores was sitting tied for 15th place at 8-under 200, five shots behind leader Steven Bowditch heading into Sunday’s final round.

Flores toured his 18 holes in 27 putts.

“I played really well,” said Flores, a graduate of Mansfield High School and Oklahoma. “I drove the ball well and gave myself a lot of opportunities.”

With Flores at 8 under were former Nelson champion Jason Dufner.

Flores, who started on No. 10, had four birdies on his front and closed with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9. He backed up a wedge to within four feet on his final hole.

His birdie there was met with the roar of approval from family and friends in his gallery.

A missed green on No. 1 — his 10th hole — led to his only bogey.

Flores is hopeful a good finish here will jump-start a career that includes six top 10s over 130 career starts in five seasons on the tour.

His career best is third at the Wells Fargo Championship a year ago. The first two weeks of March represent his best stretch of this season when he put together finishes of 17th and 16th at the Honda Classic and Puerto Rico Open.

Flores survived the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last week and finished 53rd. He missed the cut at Texas’ other two events, the Valero Texas Open and the Shell Houston Open.

“I made a bad iron swing from the middle of the fairway on No. 1,” Flores said. “Followed that up with a pretty good chip … hit a really good putt, but it didn’t go.”

A number of forces, in addition to Flores’ play, will need to be in play for the 33-year-old to make a real push Sunday. His chief problem is the amount of people in front of him. Though he’s within striking distance, he’ll need to leapfrog 14 players to reach the top, including five who sat a shot ahead of him.

“I want to win,” Flores said. “I’ll try to shoot as low as I can and climb up the leader board.”

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