Golf Talk Live - Bruce Lietzke Transcript Segment 3

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 2, 2001, 4:00 pm
(1977 TUCSON OPEN CLIP SHOWN)

PETER KESSLER
TELL ME ABOUT THIS FINAL PLAYOFF HOLE, IF YOU'D BE SO KIND, AND THE ENSUING CELEBRATION.

BRUCE LIETZKE
THIS WAS THE FOURTH PLAYOFF HOLE AGAINST GENE LITTLER IN 1977. AND THIS PUTT WAS WALKED OFF AT 82 FEET. LITTLER HAD ABOUT A 15 FOOT BIRDIE PUTT. AND I'M PUTTING FROM 82 FEET.

JUST, AND LOOKING RIGHT INTO THE SUN ... AND WATCH THIS BALL DISAPPEAR. I THREW MY PUTTER ...

UH, I'M CONVINCED LITTLER WOULD'VE MADE HIS 15-FOOTER HAD THAT NOT GONE IN. BUT UH, HE WAS OBVIOUSLY PRETTY RATTLED, AS I WAS. AND UH, THAT WAS MY FIRST TOURNAMENT UH, TOURNAMENT WIN, 1977.

I'D BEEN ON THE TOUR ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF. AND IT'S INTERESTING THAT YOU SHOWED THAT. THAT'S NOT MY GREATEST GOLF CAREER, BUT A - OR MOMENT. UH, BUT ABOUT 2 HOURS AFTER, THAT WAS.

UH, I MADE THAT PUTT. MY MOTHER AND FATHER WERE IN TUCSON WITH ME THAT WEEK. WE DID THE MEDIA DEAL, CLEANED OUT MY LOCKER. MY MOTHER WAS WITH ME. MY DAD WAS BACK AT THE HOTEL ROOM.

MY VICTORY DINNER THAT NIGHT WAS A, A WHAT-A-BURGER, A BIG DOUBLE CHEESE BURGER AND FRENCH FRIES BECAUSE I HAD TO DRIVE TO THE NEXT TOURNAMENT. THE NEXT TOURNAMENT WAS THE CROSBY IN SAN FRANCISCO.

I'M IN TUCSON. AND I, UH, CAME BACK TO MY LOCKER AND I HAD A NOTE FROM JACK NICKLAUS SAYING 'I WOULD LOVE TO PLAY GOLF WITH YOU ON TUESDAY.' AND I SAT IN FRONT OF MY LOCKER AND THINKING,

BOY, THIS IS A MOMENT. I'VE JUST WON MY FIRST TOURNAMENT. JACK LIETZKE - I MEAN, EXCUSE ME, JACK NICKLAUS IS ASKING ME TO PLAY GOLF WITH HIM ON TUESDAY. I GUESS, I GUESS THIS IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT.

THAT'S NOT MY GREATEST MOMENT. I EAT MY WHAT-A-BURGER. I GO BACK TO MY MOM'S, UH, AND DAD'S MOTEL ROOM, MAKE A COUPLE PHONE CALLS.

I HAVE TO GET TO SAN FRANCISCO BY MONDAY, AND IT'S UH, IT'S ALMOST A 2 DAY DRIVE. SO I'M IN MY TRANS AM FIREBIRD, WHICH I - WAS MY ROAD VEHICLE FOR THE FIRST HALF OF EACH YEAR.

I DROVE MY CAR FROM, UH, JANUARY THROUGH MAY AND THEN I'D PARK MY CAR AND FLY ... UH, I ATE MY HAMBURGER, KISSED MY MOM AND DAD GOODBYE, AND JUMPED INTO THE FIREBIRD AT 9 O'CLOCK AT NIGHT, UH, AND WAS GONNA TRY AND DRIVE 5 HOURS.

UH, BUT WITH THE ADRENALINE PUMPING ON THE FREEWAY, PUT IT ON CRUISE CONTROL, PROBABLY ABOUT 80 OR 85 (MPH), AND PLUGGED IN AN 8-TRACK TAPE OF LYNYRD SKYNYRD, WHICH WAS MY ... MY ROAD TAPE.

PETER KESSLER
'FREE BIRD' ... SURE.

BRUCE LIETZKE
AND IT WAS 'FREE BIRD'. UH, NEVER - I DON'T KNOW THAT I'VE EVER LISTENED TO THE OTHER SONGS MORE THAN A COUPLE TIMES. UH, FULL VOLUME, 'FREE BIRD' GOING DOWN THE HIGHWAY AT CRUISE CONTROL, HAVING JUST WON MY, MY FIRST PGA TOUR VICTORY,

UH, AND YEARS LATER I FINALLY REALIZED WHAT WENT ON. I ONLY MADE IT 3 HOURS. I MADE IT TO THE OTHER SIDE OF PHOENIX AND I FINALLY CAME CRASHING DOWN, FIGURATIVELY, FORTUNATELY JUST FIGURATIVELY. UH ...

FOR THOSE 3 HOURS, I DIDN'T THINK ABOUT THE 40,000 DOLLARS. BOY, THAT WAS A LOT OF MONEY BACK THEN, BUT THESE DAYS, NO.

UH, MY TRIP TO THE MASTERS WAS NOT ON MY MIND, MY PARENTS, THE HOLE, THE PUTT, THE CHECK, NOTHING. IT - IT REVOLVED AROUND JUNIOR GOLF, STARTING GOLF, HIGH SCHOOL GOLF, COLLEGE GOLF.

AND I'VE - I'VE TOLD THAT TO PARENTS AND KIDS THAT I'VE TALKED TO JUNIOR CLINICS AT, UH, FOR ME, AND THAT WAS THE HEIGHT OF MY GOLFING LIFE. UH, AND IT WAS, IT WAS THOSE STEPS GETTING TO THAT POINT THAT WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT TO ME.

AND I CAN REMEMBER, I REMEMBERED EVERY GOOD TOURNAMENT I HAD IN HIGH SCHOOL OR JUNIOR GOLF, OR FRIENDS I HAD, AND BAD TOURNAMENTS I HAD, UH, FOR 3 HOURS. AND IT, IT WAS THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF MY, UH, MY GOLF LIFE, UH, AT THE TIME UNTIL THE RYDER CUP A COUPLE YEARS AGO.

AND ACTUALLY THAT SUNDAY AT THE RYDER CUP SURPASSED THAT. BUT, UH, I WAS AMAZED THAT WINNING A TOURNAMENT VICTORY, IT WASN'T THE MONEY, AND IT WASN'T THE ADULATION AND THE CROWD AND THE CHEERING AND THE TV STUFF. IT WAS UH, IT WAS HOW I GOT THERE.

PETER KESSLER
YOU MAY BE THE ONLY GUY WHO EVER CELEBRATED BY SINGING ALONG WITH RONNIE VAN ZANT OF LYNYRD SKYNYRD.

BRUCE LIETZKE
OH, I'M ... UH, JUST PLAYING THE AIR GUITAR THE WHOLE TIME. I THINK I WAS DRIVING WITH MY LEFT KNEE PLAYING THE AIR GUITAR ON 'FREE BIRD', UH, AND JUST LETTING MY MIND WANDER. AND MY MIND WANDERED TO UH, JUNIOR GOLF.

PETER KESSLER
IS THAT THE FIRST TIME YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT WAS AND WHAT WASN'T IMPORTANT?

BRUCE LIETZKE
YOU KNOW, I DON'T REMEMBER THINKING ABOUT THAT JUNIOR GOLF UNTIL A FEW YEARS LATER. SO, NO, I DON'T THINK IT DAWNED ON ME. I HAD ACHIEVED SOMETHING I HAD ALWAYS WANTED TO DO. AND I DON'T KNOW THAT I REFLECTED MUCH MORE ON THAT.

IT WAS REALLY ACTUALLY YEARS LATER THAT I THOUGHT ABOUT DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD AND WHAT I HAD BEEN THINKING AND WHAT I WAS DOING AND WHAT THAT ADRENALINE HAD DONE TO ME.

AND I REMEMBERED THINKING, YOU KNOW WHAT, I CAN - ALL I CAN REMEMBER THINKING ABOUT WAS, YOU KNOW, LITTLE - JUNIOR HIGH, HIGH SCHOOL, LIKE YOU SAID, PLAYING AGAINST BEN CRENSHAW, I RAN INTO HIM, UH, IN EIGHTH GRADE.

AND I'D THINK OF STORIES LIKE THAT AND, FOR 3 HOURS, THAT'S ALL THAT OCCUPIED MY MIND. AND THE MONEY AND ALL THAT CAME LATER, MY TRIP TO THE MASTERS, PROBABLY THE NEXT DAY. UH, BUT BOY, FOR THOSE 3 HOURS, UH, THE IMPORTANT THINGS CAME, CAME FIRST.

PETER KESSLER
YOUR FIRST 6 OR 7 YEARS THAT YOU WERE OUT ON TOUR, YOU HAD A MUCH DIFFERENT AND AGGRESSIVE SCHEDULE THAN YOU LATER ADAPTED FOR YOURSELF. AND I THINK THAT ONE OF THE REASONS WAS BECAUSE YOU WANTED TO SEE

HOW GREAT A PLAYER YOU COULD BE AND WHAT BETTER WAY TO TEST YOURSELF RIGHT THEN AT THE HEIGHT OF YOUR POWERS, WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG AND HAD THE ENERGY TO DO IT.

WHEN YOU DECIDED THAT YOU WERE GOING TO BE A VERY GOOD PLAYER, AS OPPOSED TO A VERY GREAT PLAYER, AT SOME POINT DURING THAT 6 OR 7 YEAR PERIOD, WAS IT DEPRESSING OR WAS IT JUST 'MATTER OF FACT' ABOUT WHAT YOU HAD COME TO REALIZE?

BRUCE LIETZKE
UH ... YEAH, 'MATTER OF FACT' IS PROBABLY THE - A BETTER WAY OF, UH, DESCRIBING IT. I, UH, I WANTED TO WIN EVERY TOURNAMENT YOU PLAY IN. BUT UH, CERTAINLY YOU DREAM OF PUTTING THAT GREEN JACKET ON.

I DREAMED OF COMING BACK TO THAT CHAMPIONS DINNER. I THINK THAT IS SUCH A GREAT, GREAT WAY TO CELEBRATE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE MASTERS. AND UH, THE GREEN JACKET'S NICE, BUT I THINK COMING BACK TO THAT CHAMPIONS DINNER IS - WOULD BE INCREDIBLE.

UM, BUT IT WAS MORE 'MATTER OF FACT.' JUST, YOU KNOW, THOSE 8 YEARS IS WHEN I PLAYED ALMOST ALL THE MAJORS. I ONLY PLAYED 3 BRITISH OPENS, BUT I PLAYED ALL THE MASTERS AND U.S. OPENS, UH, PGAS ... UH, AND WORKED MY WAY UP THE MONEY LIST.

IT TOOK ME 3 TIMES TO GET TO THAT RYDER CUP, UH, SPOT. THAT WAS A, THAT WAS A PRIORITY. I HAD JUST MISSED IT '77 AND '79. AND UH, AND GOLF WAS THE NUMBER ONE THING IN MY LIFE. I WAS UNMARRIED IN MY FIRST 6 YEARS ON TOUR.

AND THEN I WAS MARRIED, BUT MY WIFE WAS WILLING TO TRAVEL THE NEXT 2. SO THAT GAVE ME A TOTAL OF ABOUT 8 YEARS THAT GOLF WAS NUMBER ONE AND, AND MY RANKING WAS VERY IMPORTANT.

UH, AND AT THE END OF THOSE 8 YEARS WHEN MY SON WAS BORN, THAT'S WHEN I DID SIT BACK AND I SAID, 'BOY, I WORKED PRETTY HARD AT IT, UH, PUSHED MYSELF A LITTLE HARD SOMETIMES, UH, BUT, YOU KNOW, GOT TO A RYDER CUP, UH, TEAM AND,

AND GOT SOME TOURNAMENT VICTORIES.' UH, I WASN'T READY TO PACK IT ALL IN. BUT I KNEW I WAS NOT GONNA DEVOTE ENOUGH TIME TO ,UH, AND PUSH MYSELF HARD ENOUGH ANYMORE TO GO AFTER THOSE OTHER DREAMS THAT I UH HADN'T ATTAINED. AND I WAS COMFORTABLE WITH IT. I WAS OKAY WITH IT.

PETER KESSLER
NORMALLY WE WILL SHOW DURING THE SHOW A SELECTED GRAPHIC OF CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS. IN YOUR CASE, WE HAVE PUT TOGETHER A GRAPHIC OF SELECTED FAMILY ACHIEVEMENTS. LET'S GO AHEAD AND TAKE A LOOK.

(GRAPHIC SHOWN:
BRUCE LIETZKE
SELECTED CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS
GUEST FACT
- NAMED BEST FIRST BASE COACH IN 1992 BY THE PLANO LITTLE LEAGUE YANKEES
- ASSISTANT COACH FOR THE 1999 TEXAS STATE HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPION TRINITY CHRISTIAN GOLF TEAM
- FATHER OF STEPHEN, THE 2-TIME TEXAS STATE HIGH SCHOOL GOLF MEDALIST (1999, 2000)
)

(BRUCE :LAUGHS)

PETER KESSLER
WELL, WE PUT THAT ONE FIRST

BRUCE LIETZKE
THAT MIGHT BE AT THE TOP OF MY LIST TOO. IT PROBABLY IS. I'VE PROBABLY GOT THAT TROPHY MORE TOWARDS THE FRONT IN MY TROPHY CASE THAN ANY OF MY GOLF TROPHIES.

PETER KESSLER
WELL, I'M GLAD WE GOT SOMETHING RIGHT.

BRUCE LIETZKE
YOU DID. YOU DID JUST FINE. THAT WAS UH ...

PETER KESSLER
THANK YOU.

BRUCE LIETZKE
AND I'VE GOT A COUPLE OF DRAG RACING TROPHIES.

PETER KESSLER
WE JUST COULDN'T FIT ANYMORE ON THERE.

BRUCE LIETZKE
UH, THAT'S OKAY. BUT, BUT THEY'RE JUST A LITTLE BIT BEHIND THOSE, THOSE FAMILY, UH, DUTIES.

PETER KESSLER
RIGHT NOW, THEY'RE HURRIEDLY WRITING THE NEW GRAPHIC FOR LATER IN THE SHOW. WE'LL BE BACK.

(BREAK)

NEXT SEGMENT
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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... 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."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.

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Tour's Integrity Program raises gambling questions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 17, 2018, 7:00 pm

The video begins with an eye-opening disclaimer: “Sport betting markets produce revenues of $1 trillion each year.”

For all the seemingly elementary elements of the 15-minute video PGA Tour players have been required to watch as part of the circuit’s newly created Integrity Program, it’s the enormity of the industry – $1 trillion annually – that concerns officials.

There are no glaring examples of how sport betting has impacted golf, no red flags that sent Tour officials into damage control; just a realization that with that kind of money it’s best to be proactive.

“It's important that in that world, you can operate not understanding what's happening week in and week out, or you can assume that all of our players and everybody in our ecosystem understands that that's not an acceptable activity, or you can just be proactive and clarify and educate,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan explained earlier this month. “That's what we have attempted to do not with just the video, but with all of our communication with our players and will continue to do that.”

But if clarification is the goal, a copy of the training video obtained by GolfChannel.com paints a different picture.



Although the essence of the policy is straightforward – “prohibit players from betting on professional golf” – the primary concern, at least if the training video is any indication, is on match fixing; and warns players to avoid divulging what is considered “inside information.”

“I thought the questions were laughable. They were all like first-grade-level questions,” Chez Reavie said. “I would like to think everyone out here already knows the answer to those questions. But the Tour has to protect themselves.”

Monahan explained that the creation of the integrity policy was not in reaction to a specific incident and every player asked last week at the Sony Open said they had never encountered any type of match fixing.

“No, not at all,” Reavie said. “I have friends who will text me from home after a round, ‘Oh, I bet on you playing so-and-so.’ But I make it clear I don’t want to know. I don’t gamble like that. No one has ever approached me about losing a match.”

It was a common answer, but the majority of the video focuses on how players can avoid being placed in a compromising situation that could lead to match fixing. It should be noted that gamblers can place wagers on head-to-head matchups, provided by betting outlets, during stroke-play rounds of tournaments – not just in match-play competitions.

Part of the training video included questions players must answer to avoid violating the policy. An example of this was how a player should respond when asked, “Hello, buddy! Well played today. I was following your progress. I noticed your partner pulled out of his approach on 18, looked like his back. Is he okay for tomorrow?”

The correct answer from a list of options was, “I don’t know, sorry. I’m sure he will get it looked at if it’s bothering him.”

You get the idea, but for some players the training created more questions.

How, for example, should a player respond when asked how he’s feeling by a fan?

“The part I don’t understand, let’s say a member of your club comes out and watches you on the range hitting balls, he knows you’re struggling, and he bets against you. Somehow, some way that could come back to you, according to what I saw on that video,” said one player who asked not to be identified.

Exactly what constitutes a violation is still unclear for some who took the training, which was even more concerning considering the penalties for a violation of the policy.

The first violation is a warning and a second infraction will require the player to retake the training program, but a third violation is a fine “up to $500,000” or “the amount illegally received from the betting activity.” A sixth violation is a lifetime ban from the Tour.

Players are advised to be mindful of what they post on social media and to “refrain from talking about odds or betting activity.” The latter could be an issue considering how often players discuss betting on other sports.

Just last week at the Sony Open, Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas had a “friendly” wager on the College Football Playoff National Championship. Kisner, a Georgia fan, lost the wager and had to wear an Alabama football jersey while playing the 17th hole last Thursday.

“If I'd have got the points, he'd have been wearing [the jersey], and I was lobbying for the points the whole week, and he didn't give them to me,” Kisner said. “So I'm still not sure about this bet.”

It’s unclear to some if Kisner’s remark, which was a joke and didn’t have anything to do with golf, would be considered a violation. From a common sense standpoint, Kisner did nothing wrong, but the uncertainty is an issue.

Much like drug testing, which the Tour introduced in 2008, few, if any, think sport betting is an issue in golf; but also like the anti-doping program, there appears to be the danger of an inadvertent and entirely innocent violation.

The Tour is trying to be proactive and the circuit has a trillion reasons to get out in front of what could become an issue, but if the initial reaction to the training video is any indication they may want to try a second take.

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.