Watson Gets Another Shot at Lietzke

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 10, 2003, 4:00 pm
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Tom Watson got off to a fast start at his last two major championships. Keeping up that pace was a problem.
He shot an opening-round 65 at the U.S. Open and a 66 two weeks later in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open. He quickly fell out of contention at Olympia Fields, and lost by two strokes at the Inverness Club.
He hopes to be more consistent in this week's Senior Players Championship, the third of the five majors on the Champions Tour.
First, Watson will have to deal with the TPC of Michigan, where he finished eighth in 2001 and 18th in 2000. He didn't play last year.
'I haven't been consistent in my good play,' Watson said after a 7-under 65 during Wednesday's pro-am. 'I've had spurts of good play, but I haven't put it together for 54 or 72 holes.'
Watson's 66 at Inverness last month put him three strokes ahead of Bruce Lietzke. But after rounds of 72, 70 and 71, Watson found himself two strokes behind Lietzke, who won the Senior Open.
It was Lietzke's first major victory in 53 tries, and seventh win since joining the senior circuit in 2001. He had 13 wins on the PGA Tour.
In 52 previous starts in majors -- five as a senior and the rest on the PGA Tour -- Lietzke's best finish was a second to John Daly at the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick.
He spent the week between the Senior Open and the Senior Players in Oklahoma City with family, including his 90-year-old mother.
'I love golf, but it's not my passion,' said Lietzke, who will miss the upcoming Senior British Open because of a planned vacation.
'Nothing better than winning and having a week off,' he said. 'Golf has a way of beating you down.'
The recharged Lietzke, one of the longest drivers on the Champions Tour, is ready to tackle the Jack Nicklaus-designed TPC of Michigan.
'This course puts driver in your hands most of the time,' he said.
Lietzke averages 284.1 yards off the tee, good for seventh on tour.
Another player hoping to make a triumphant return in Dearborn is Hale Irwin, who will be playing his first tournament since dropping out of the U.S. Open with a back injury.
'The back is OK. I can't say it's completely well,' said Irwin, the all-time money leader on the Champions Tour and tops this year in scoring average. 'It'll need some continued rest, but I can't do that at this time.'
Before this past Friday, the 58-year-old hadn't hit a golf ball since the 12th hole at Olympia Fields. He played a full 18 holes for the first time in Wednesday's pro-am.
'My preparation has been nil,' he said. 'Hopefully, I can draw upon my experience here.'
Irwin, who won the Senior Players in 1999, said he would make up his mind after this weekend whether to play at the Senior British Open in Turnberry, Scotland, in two weeks.
The Senior Players winner, who last year was Stewart Ginn, will get $375,000 of the $2.5 million purse.
Notes: Champions Tour player and television analyst Gary McCord withdrew this week due to his father's death in California. Terry Mauney replaces McCord in the field. ... Ginn and NASCAR legend Ned Jarrett spent time together Wednesday. Jarrett gave Ginn a driving lesson on a closed course at tournament sponsor Ford Motor Co.'s Dearborn Proving Ground. They then moved to the TPC, where Ginn gave Jarrett a golf lesson. ... McDonald's Corp. on Wednesday made a $50,000 donation to Driving 4 Life, a Cambridge, Mass.-based fund-raising organization campaign started by Watson and his caddie Bruce Edwards, who is dying from Lou Gehrig's disease.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Ford Senior Players Championship
  • Ford Senior Players Championship Leaderboard

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.