June 8, 2003
Note: This news conference was moderated by Julius Mason, the Director of Public Relations and Media Relations for the PGA of America.
BRUCE LIETZKE: (Speaking to Julius Mason) You have been warm and dry and cozy here all week. No mud on your pants.
JULIUS JASON: We're going to get Bruce to the heart of the matter right now, ladies and gentlemen, after a 67 out there today, Bruce. Interesting day for you. How about some thoughts on your round; then we'll go through your card.
BRUCE LIETZKE: It was just, kind of a plodding along since my first day of shooting 75. I birdied the last hole the first day to shoot that 75. Everyday since then I have just kind of plodded along with not many bogeys and not many birdies. And something happened on the back nine today. I holed out a real tough chip shot on the 10th hole for birdie. Then through a couple of back-to-back birdies real quick on 12 and 13, I think. Which I hadn't done all week. All of a sudden I was in a tournament that I hadn't been in at all this week. Then I made a couple of bogeys, missed a short putt, I think it was on 15. Made a nice birdie on 16 and then hit a bad tee shot on 18 and my strategy on 18 was pretty much dictated by being an hour ahead of the leaders.
I just couldn't afford to try the one gambling shot that I had, which was pretty much a crazy shot. I told my son I would have tried it if I had been in the last group and tied for the lead or something like that, but I have got an hour's worth of players coming up behind me. I just decided I was going to try and make a tough par and so chipped out, took the safe way out and hit a good iron shot but missed a putt on 18 for a bogey.
Really a back nine today that a lot of things came together, which didn't seem to happen the whole week. Really, Thursday's round is the one that probably kept me from really having a serious chance of winning.
JULIUS MASON: Let's go through the card real quick with the distances. Birdies and bogeys.
BRUCE LIETZKE: I birdied the first hole today, 8-iron second shot and I made a 12-footer for birdie.
I bogeyed 4, that's where I missed -- hit the green; left my first putt about three feet short and had a putt that -- we call them 360s but when they come back at you -- this one truly went around and went away from me. This was truly a 360 that I couldn't believe that turned out to be a bogey.
My next birdie came on 8, 4-iron to six feet from the hole, I made that for birdie.
9 was a par.
Back nine as I described, I hit it in the right rough on 10 and I tried to cut a big 7-iron around a tree from out of the mud and ended up in the collection area to the right of the green. I really just had a shot that I was trying to put the ball 10 or 15 feet past the whole trying to make a par putt and I just chipped this thing off of a bad lie, wet ground, and it went in the hole. Really went in the hole on a slow roll. It was not going to go more than three, four inches by. Just the greatest chip I have hit in a long, long time. Probably just kind of got me going from a defensive mode. Like I said, I was just going to try to make a 15-footer for par and make no worse than bogey. All of a sudden I made a birdie on a hole that I thought I was going to bogey.
Then birdied 12, with a 3-wood off the tee, 6-iron second shot and made a real nice putt from about 22 feet for birdie there.
Next hole I hit a 2-iron off the tee and I hit a 7-iron to about six inches from the hole, tapped that in for birdie.
My bogey on 15 came, I hit my second shot into the green-side bunker, blasted out about four feet, now had a pretty bad lip-out there that came right back at me or spun off that I really thought I had made for my bogey there.
16, I made a nice up-and-down from green-side bunker for a birdie, blasted out to about six feet, made that for birdie on 16.
And my tee shot on 18 went way right into the trees. As I said, I had one crazy shot to try and knock it over the green, was really the only thing I possibly could have done. I really could have made a terrible number there. Because I was so far from the lead and I thought just posting a score was going to be more important, I played safely out with a chip-out 7-iron; then I hit a 7-iron third shot, to about 18 feet, I missed that putt for my par. So made bogey on 18.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you, Bruce. Questions, folks.
Q. How wide of cut would that have been if you tried that shot on 18?
BRUCE LIETZKE: Actually it was a dead straight shot and I don't hit -- I don't hit dead straight shots. I didn't have a good enough lie to hit it. I had to keep the ball under 12 feet high and I was going to have to carry it 180 -- about 170 yards and not let it get over 12 feet high and I didn't have a good lie.
Q. That was the gap?
BRUCE LIETZKE: There was a gap -- there was a straight gap. I couldn't cut it. I had to hit a dead straight shot, which I am not good at anyway, and I just didn't have a club in my bag, like I say, once out of 50 times and the best I could have done was knocked it over the green and I started trying to wonder, I said over this green is probably no good. All of a sudden I started thinking I could make a par from the fairway. I could have been forced into it. If I had been in the last group and you are playing a little bit of match play, but this thing, there's a lot of players behind me and I thought it was pretty important.
It's the reason I didn't go for the pin on 17 also. 17 was a left-side pin that could have knocked me out of the tournament if I had tried to go at it. So played safely to the right and made par. I really thought 18 was a birdie hole, that's why I hit driver. As I look back on it now I wish I would have hit 3-wood and taken the bunker out of play. I think the reason I made a bad swing because I was very concerned about putting it in that fairway bunker and 3-wood would have taken that bunker out of play.
But 18 was the hole where I did want to try and make birdie, but I needed to put it in the fairway and I didn't do it.
Q. Looks like there's a decent chance there could be a playoff with you in it. Is it kind of strange that you are here?
BRUCE LIETZKE: Julius and I are just great old friends; I had to come by and see him sometime. He asked me to come by. I have got my son watching the scoreboard now and I told him if anybody starts making any hiccups, I will head to the practice tee. So I don't know how this is going to finish but I did want to come in and get this down if I can.
JULIUS MASON: We promised it would be quick so he could get back to a TV. Questions.
Q. What did you hit off the 18th tee?
BRUCE LIETZKE: Driver.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks, Bruce.
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