SUTTON, Mass. -- Bruce Fleisher, returning to the PGA Tour this year after an eight-year hiatus, shot a 4-under par 67 yesterday for a 36-hole total of 131 and widened his lead to three strokes at the halfway mark of the $1 million New England Classic.
Fleisher, 42, the 1968 U.S. Amateur champion who left the tour to take a job as a club pro in 1983, set up four birdies with an accurate wedge in a bogey-free second round and tied the 36-hole record at Pleasant Valley Country Club.
Fleisher shot a 64 in the first round to take a 1-stroke lead entering yesterday's play. Fleisher said he "got a little lucky" in saving par with clutch putts on several holes. On the fifth hole, his approach shot hit a tree, but he got down in regulation.
"If that shot hadn't hit the tree, I'd probably still be out there," he said.
Fleisher, who spent 11 years on the tour with "little success," finished at midday and then watched with his wife, Wendy, as first one challenger and then another failed to catch him.
Blaine McCallister, Ernie Gonzalez and Ted Schulz, who shared a five-way tie for second after one round, added 69s to remain in tied for second and in the hunt for the $180,000 top prize. McCallister won here in 1989.
Also at 134 were local favorite Billy Andrade, winner of the Kemper Open and Westchester on successive weekends last month; Mike Springer; John Daly; Ian Baker-Finch; and 1986 champion Gene Sauers.