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1995 / 77th PGA RIVIERA : PGA NOTES : He Tries to Make the Most of a Little

August 10, 1995|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI

It didn't go unnoticed that Bruce Lietzke, who spends more time holding a rod and reel than a golf club, was in attendance Wednesday at Riviera.

While walking to the 18th tee box during a practice round, John Adams spotted Lietzke on the No. 4 tee.

"Hey, what's with all this practicing and playing stuff?" Adams asked.

"I'm quitting in three weeks anyway," Lietzke said.

This is only Lietzke's 11th tour event of the season. He has made seven cuts, finished in the top three once, the top five twice and the top 25 three times. In his 18 PGA Championships, Lietzke has missed the cut twice.

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Bernhard Langer, who hasn't missed a PGA Championship in 10 years, is out because of a bad back. Greg Norman is here, but he's nursing a back injury suffered during the recent British Open at St. Andrews.

It isn't exactly an epidemic, but nonetheless, someone asked Nick Faldo if he had ever suffered a back injury and did he take any preventive measures?

"No," Faldo said, "I find being an athlete helps."

Faldo also offered his view on the Ryder Cup competition, which begins next month at Oak Hill.

"I think Oak Hill . . . very much favors the American team," Faldo said. "It's a U.S. Open-style golf course and they're much more suited for that style of golf. You know, our team's shaping up--mainly in the hospital, I think. About 50% of them are injured, so . . . I think we're going to be obviously the underdogs, but that will be a good thing for us."

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Don't look for the PGA of America to return to the old days, when 40 club pros qualified for the PGA Championship. The number has been reduced to 25 and, according to Jim Awtrey, CEO of the PGA of America, will probably stay that way.

"Well, first of all, the decision to reduce the number of club professionals was done by the board of directors after much consideration," he said.

"When you look at the PGA Championship, it is a major championship, one of only four, and the PGA has an obligation to that championship.

"Certainly, we have maintained the strength of field second to none. But when we looked up last year, we had a problem with getting a number of players who were eligible and interested in playing into the PGA Championship. So the decision to reduce the club professionals was in the best interest of the PGA Championship."

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