BOB WEST ON GOLF — A day to think about Lietzke leaving us too soon

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, July 21, 2021

It’s two days late, but it’s never tardy to be acknowledging the birthday of Southeast Texas’ best, most successful male golfer. Bruce Lietzke, had he lived, would have celebrated No. 70 on Monday.

Wednesday, July 28 will be the third anniversary of his death from brain cancer.

I knew and covered Bruce all the way back to his days as a 9th grade phenom at Forest Park High School in Beaumont. He was not only the best golfer I was blessed to get up close and personal with, he was one of the finest human beings.

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I will never forget the day – April 15, 2017 – that he called to say “I just received a cancer diagnosis that has me reeling.” That diagnosis was a golf ball sized tumor on the brain.

Later in the conversation he would say, “Please ask your readers to pray for me, possibly for an extended period of time.” Bruce fought a terrific battle but this was the rare time he couldn’t pull off a successful finish.

For those who somehow may not be familiar with Lietzke, he won 13 times on the PGA Tour, including the Colonial and Bryon Nelson twice each. He hoisted the championship trophy seven more times on what is now known as the Champions Tour.

His signature moment was winning the U.S. Senior Open in 2003.

What set Lietzke apart was his uncanny ability to play at a high level while seldom practicing. He rarely let a PGA tournament get in the way of something involving his son or daughter. Competitors shook their heads over how he could disappear from the tour for weeks, show up and contend.

After family and golf, Lietzke loved fishing, classic cars and being a huge booster of junior golf. He never forgot what Henry Homberg, the late and longtime pro at Tyrrell Park, did to promote junior golf and was an active participant in doing the same.

They still play a junior tourney at Idylwild in his name.

Bruce and I talked often during his battle with cancer and he stayed upbeat until it was no longer possible. It always blew me away that he’d refer to an item he’d read about somebody he knew from Southeast Texas in my golf column, which he swore he read faithfully, even while on tour.

I sure miss him.

CHIP SHOTS: Team West, aka Bob and Grayson, rallied in the final round to collect the crystal for third place in the Bobby Jones flight at the Family Golf Week Father-Son Championship in Myrtle Beach.

Over 400 teams participated in what is the most fun golf event I’ve ever been around. There is, by the way, also a Father-Daughter division. You play three rounds, over three different courses, using three different formats. On the side there are all sorts of contests, meals and golf equipment bargains in a merchandise shop.

Any father, son or daughter who is interested needs to contact me and I’ll provide details on getting into the 2022 event set for July 14-16.

A highlight leading up to the Father-Son was a two-hour drive to the Pinehurst area of North Carolina and two rounds over the Pine Needles layout that will host to the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open. Donald Ross was at this best when he designed that track.

I can’t wait to watch the LPGA’s best play there.

A side trip to Pinehurst, about two miles away, produced a Chris Stroud treat. Stroud, as a junior at Lamar in 2003, won the prestigious North and South Amateur over Pinehurst No. 2. We saw his name on a plaque in the trophy case, along with Jack Nicklaus, Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton and other winners.

Grayson took a photo of the plaque and sent it to Chris . . .

Andrew Landy is back on the PGA Trail this week at the 3M Classic in Minnesota. Last time out Landry finished T64 in the John Deere Classic on rounds of 70-67-71-73. He is currently 156 in Fed Ex points.

Braden Bailey made 12 birdies and an eagle over 36 holes in the Waterloo (Iowa) Classic but his 6-under total of 138 missed the cut by one shot. The Baylor ex was done in by 8 bogeys.

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Keith Mullins, John House, Larry Johnson and Glynn Knight won the front with minus 5. There was a tie at minus 2 on the back between the foursome of Russ Gloede, Rick Pritchett, Jerry May and Dillard Darbonne and the team of James Vercher, Gary Fontenot, James Trahan and Darrell Mouille.

Mulllins took medalist honors with a 68.

The Super Saturday 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Price Youngs, Pritchett, Gene Rountree and Knight take the front with minus 2. That was also the winning number on the back for the team of Ed Holley, Derrick Wolf, Jay Hampson and Jim Schexneyder.

Playing an all-points count format in the Wednesday Dogfight at Zaharias, the team of Rusty Hicks, Adam Noel, Larry Lee and Don Duplan won with 29 points. Second with 24 points was the foursome of Cap Hollier, Johnson, Charlie Leard and a ghost player.

Closest to the pin winners were Hollier (No. 2, 8 feet), Hicks (No. 7, 3 feet), Jim Cady (No. 12, 6 feet, 6 inches) and James Trahan (No. 15, 6-2).

Eighty-five-year-old Bob Byerly, a former West Orange-Stark football assistant, turned heads in the Monday, July 12, Senior 50 Plus game by posting the day’s low round of 72. It helped his team that included Ron LaSalle, Rufus Reyes and Dan Flood win the front with 2 under.

On the back, the team of Kenny Robbins, Bob Luttrell, Brian Mirabella and Knight smoked the competition with 6 under.

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