Lietzkes Kind of Day

By George WhiteOctober 26, 2001, 4:00 pm
Bruce Lietzke could tell when he woke up Friday morning that this day was going to be one that he ordered. No. l, there was very little wind. No. 2, the course has a number of left-to-right holes. And No. 3, he slept well ' as he has for the past 15 years, playing just enough to keep his union card for the fraternal order of golf-ball swatters.
 
Lietzke expressed his thanks to the gods of golf by firing a 9-under 63 at the Senior Tour Championship in Oklahoma City. After 36 holes, he leads the tournament with a 10-under-par 134, holding a one-shot edge over Bob Gilder and two shots over Tom Kite and Gil Morgan.
 
If there were a day this week when I was going to get back at the golf course, today was the day, said Lietzke, who has two wins in his rookie season on tour. I made it play easy as well as I drove it today. Quite a few shots were easier than yesterday, just because of the lack of wind.
 
Lietzke could do no better than a 71 in Thursdays opening round when the winds blew out of the north consistently at 15 miles per hour and gusted at times to 25. Friday it died down to five.
 
That comes from a guy who hits the ball real high, said Lietzke. A good wind player might say it was only 2-3 shots easier today from lack of wind. The high ball that I hit all the time, I struggle in the kind of winds we had yesterday. Today is the kind of day that I try to take advantage of the golf course. This is the kind of course that keeps the driver in my hands all day long. When the wind dies down like it did today, it just plays right into my strengths.
 
The forecast is for breezes to be around 5 miles per hour both Saturday and Sunday with temperatures in the upper 60s, so the field had best beware of Lietzke.
 
Lietzke made the nine-hole turn in 30, stroking the ball adroitly on the greens with the long-handled putter. He finished the 63 with a birdie on the difficult 18th, a 553-yard par-5 that curls directly into the northerly breezes. He used two shots to place the ball in the middle of the green 18 feet away, then two-putted for the birdie.
 
Gilder led after the first round with a 67 and was 3-under again after only three holes Friday. He eagled the par-5 3rd for the second day in a row, this time with a 35-foot putt. But his progress was halted on the 5th hole with a double bogey. Still, he finished with a 68 to stand one shot behind Lietzke.
 
I hit the ball as good as I did yesterday, said Gilder. But its hard to follow with another good day. Im very happy with a 68.
 
Tom Watson would be tied for the lead had it not been for an eight he scored on the third hole Thursday. He has scored 11 birdies and an eagle in the two days, but it was the miscue on the par-5 hole that ruined him.
 
At the junior clinic on Tuesday, I talked a lot about how you shouldnt follow a bad shot with another bad shot, said Watson. Thats one of the things Ive always prided myself on.
 
But thats exactly what I did. In fact, I hit a shank after a bad shot. That runs up your score pretty fast.
 
I hit it in the bunker off the tee. Then I pull-hooked a 3-iron way out to the left. We found the ball, but I had to drop it. I had a little constricted backswing, and it just went urnnnt ' low right and my playing partner, Vicente Fernandez, had to jump.
 
So Im lying four ' three shots and a penalty. The ball is lying in another hazard after the shank. I had to go over a wall with the next shot, and I had to make sure I hit it high enough. Then I hit a lousy chip shot to 10 feet, and two-putted for eight.
 
Still, one must remember that Watson was three shots behind at the halfway point last year, and he wound up the winner in this tournament.
 
Sure enough, this year he is at 7-under-par 137. That is three shots behind.
 
Full-field scores from the Senior Tour Championship
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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.