The most important words Bruce Fleisher heard Sunday came from a spectator.
After putting out for a par on the final hole of the $1.2 million Long Island Classic on Sunday, Fleisher, and almost everyone else at the Meadow Brook Club, thought he had an easy four-stroke victory for his fifth tournament title of the year.
As he was looking over his scorecard and getting ready to sign it, the spectator stuck his head in the tent and told Fleisher he had not moved his coin back for the final putt.
"I realized he was right and the two-stroke penalty was assessed. If I had signed that card with the lower score I would have been disqualified," Fleisher said. "Thank God I had the four-stroke lead."
Fleisher finished with a 1-over-par 73, including the penalty, and his 10-under 206 total for 54 holes at the 6,842-yard Meadow Brook Club meant a two-stroke victory over Allen Doyle. It also moved him past Hale Irwin on the money list.
"I guess I should find that guy and give him something," Fleisher said.
The $180,000 winner's check gave Fleisher a total of $1,668,400, just over $101,000 more than Irwin and only $26,711 less than he earned in his 27-year PGA Tour career where he won once.
Fleisher nearly missed his starting time for the second round. He arrived with eight minutes to spare to again avoid being disqualified.
"I'll look at this tournament as a real big lesson and I'll learn from it. I better," he said. "Those are two boo-boos I just can't afford. I'm lucky I had the four-shot lead because that would have been sad."
Fleisher had moved the coin at the request of Mark Hayes because it was his line. After Hayes holed out, Fleisher then putted out for the actual par without moving it back.
"That was a real big blip," he said. "I tell you somebody's looking over me."
He has made 20 starts as a senior and has five second-place finishes to go with the five wins. He made over 400 starts on the PGA Tour.
Doyle, a three-time winner on tour this season, closed with a 5-under 67 and was at 208, one stroke in front of a group of five.
Fleisher opened the tournament by tying the course record with an 8-under 64 and his wire-to-wire victory was his second of the year, the seventh on the senior tour this year and just the second in the 12-year history of the Long Island Classic.
The senior tour record for rookie wins is seven by Bruce Crampton in 1986 and Lee Trevino in 1990 and the overall record for wins in a year is nine set by Peter Thomson in 1985 and matched by Irwin in 1997.
Joe Inman had a 4-under 68 Sunday to lead the group tied for third and was joined by Raymond Floyd, who had a 69, Jim Thorpe and Jose Maria Canizares, who both had 70s, and Tom Shaw, who had a 71.
Hayes, another senior rookie, was alone in second three shots off the lead but ballooned to a 75 and finished at 211.
"It was two things," a very disappointed Hayes said. "It was a totally humbling experience to say the least and I just didn't play well enough to compete."
Tom Wargo was the only other player to reach 10 under on the back nine as he got there with an eagle and birdie on Nos. 10 and 11. He followed that with a bogey on 12 and a double-bogey on 13 and eventually finished at 212 after a 2-over 74.
Fleisher's back nine included two birdies on Nos. 10 and 16 and two double-bogeys on Nos. 13 and 18. The double-bogey on the par-4 13th was because of two bunker shots and two putts, while the one on the par-3 18th was because of the coin he forgot to replace.
"That was a very stupid mistake on 13," Fleisher said. "After I drove into the bunker I should have played for the 5, take my medicine and go on but no, I had to be the hero and I came up short."
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