Golf Talk Live - Bruce Lietzke Transcript Segment 3

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(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)

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