Sunday, June 29, 2003

Lietzke eyes long-awaited major win


'Finest' round brings Senior Open lead

The Associated Press

[img]
Bruce Lietzke chips to the 14th green at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio during the third round of the U.S. Senior Open Saturday.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
TOLEDO - Bruce Lietzke has spent a lifetime traveling to golf courses, cashing checks and winning tournaments.

Never before had he had a day like he did on Saturday in the U.S. Senior Open.

Lietzke shot a 7-under 64 - which he called the finest round of his 29-year pro career - to take a four-stroke lead into the final round at Inverness Club.

"This would probably have to be at the top," the big Texan said.

Lietzke's 64 - which included five birdies on the home nine - left him at 9-under 204. He has never before won a major championship, although he's had close calls over a long and productive career.

In 52 major championships - five as a senior and the rest while on the PGA Tour - Lietzke's best finish is a second to John Daly in the 1991 PGA Championship. His best previous finish in an Open was a tie for 17th at Merion in 1981.

His lowest previous round in a major was a 66 in the final round of The Tradition a year ago.

"I've had 62s on the PGA and Champions Tours," he said. "I've had tons of good rounds. But figuring how hard the golf course is ... that's probably the greatest round I've ever had."

Vicente Fernandez, who started the day with a one-stroke lead over Tom Watson, shot a 71 and was tied with Watson for second place at 5-under 208. Watson had a 70 that included pars on his final 10 holes.

Lietzke opened and closed his round with birdies. In between, he never seemed to be out of position and seldom hit a bad shot.

His 64 was five strokes better than the next best score in the third round - just as Fernandez's 64 was the day before. Lietzke's round featured nine birdies.

"I didn't think that was going to be possible," he said. "I don't have any strategies. I always believe golf is a reactionary sport. You hit a drive and then react to it. Then you hit a shot to the green and react to that. I didn't think that anyone would have those kinds of opportunities."

Lietzke played the final 10 holes in 6 under, pulling off stunning shots as he skirted trouble with sometimes errant drives.

After letting a share of the lead slip away with two bogeys on the front side, Lietzke hit a 7 iron to 16 feet at the bunker-surrounded ninth hole to pull within a shot of Watson's lead.

PGA: Sweden's Richard Johnson shot a steady 2-under 69, giving the PGA Tour rookie a one-stroke lead over David Toms after three rounds of the St. Jude Classic.

Johnson, trying to win his first PGA Tour title in just his 14th start, had a 14-under 199 total. Toms birdied two of his final three holes for a 65. He is looking for his second victory this year and ninth in his career.

Tim Herron (65), Lee Janzen (67), Fredrik Jacobson (68) and David Peoples (70) were two strokes back. Ben Crane (64) was at 202, and Notah Begah (64) and third-round co-leader John Huston (73) were in a group at 203.

LPGA: Angela Stanford shot a 4-under-par 67 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic, with Annika Sorenstam four shots back.

Stanford, who came into the day sharing the lead with two others, used solid iron play and putting to card five birdies en route to a two-day total of 132.

Four players were bunched up one shot behind her, including two-time Classic champ Juli Inkster, while 13-year-old Michelle Wie was 11 strokes back after a 72.

Sorenstam, the tour's No. 1 player, roared back into contention after a lackluster opening round, shooting a 66.




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