Steve Flesch wasn't planning on playing in this week's Constellation Senior Players Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club. As the fourth alternate into the field of 78 players, the PGA Tour Champions rookie thought he'd be home with his family in Kentucky. Then four players withdrew.

When Bart Bryant pulled out Wednesday morning, the 50-year-old left-hander was in.

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Steve Flesch tees off on the 17th hole during opening day at the Constellation Senior Players Championship at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills on Thursday, July 13, 2017.
Steve Flesch tees off on the 17th hole during opening day at the Constellation Senior Players Championship at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills on Thursday, July 13, 2017. (Michael Ares / Baltimore Sun)

Not that he was prepared. It also didn't help that Flesch has played sparingly this year as he transitioned from the PGA Tour. In five events split among the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour and PGA Tour Champions, Flesch had missed the cut four times.The only time he made it to the weekend was on the PGA Tour Champions, finishing fifth at the Principal Charity Classic a month ago.

Though his inclusion in Baltimore was based on his PGA Tour career, Flesch was admittedly rusty in general and clueless about Caves Valley in particular.

"You're really not counting on playing even though you should prepare to play, so you've kind of got to trick your mind into getting ready," Flesch said Thursday. "Yesterday when I was playing the pro-am, I wasn't ready to play. Finally on the back nine yesterday in the pro-am, I hit a lot of good shots, made some birdies and kind of got it back to where I was ready to go today."

Flesch picked up in the opening round where he'd left off in the pro-am. He made birdies on his first two holes, recovered from a bogey on the par-5 with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9, then made four more birdies on the back nine. At 7-under par 65, he is tied with three-time defending champion Bernhard Langer and Corey Pavin, one shot behind first-round leader Larry Mize.

"A couple of mistakes I made today just from not knowing the golf course very well, only getting one practice round and not hitting it very well kind of from not practicing much last week," Flesch said. "But played good today, putted great, which to me if you're putting good it makes up for a lot of mistakes and today it kind of saved me."

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