Originally created 05/13/02

Final round washed out, Lietzke declared winner



KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When he woke up twice Saturday night to the sound of thunder, Bruce Lietzke figured he might be on the verge of winning a golf tournament without even swinging a club. He was right.

Unrelenting rains made the Tiffany Greens course unplayable on Sunday and Lietzke, whose eight-under-par 64 Saturday had given him a 2-stoke lead, was declared winner of the TD Waterhouse Championship.

"I didn't dare let my mind wander. I had to be prepared to play today," said Lietzke, who finished with a 36-hole total of 11-under on the water-soaked, par-72 layout. "I was really ready to play."

The 50-year-old Lietzke collected $240,000 for his fourth Senior PGA Tour victory in just 19 starts. Larry Nelson, whose 66 on Saturday left him two strokes behind Lietzke and one ahead of Tom Wargo, Hale Irwin and Walter Hall, collected $140,000.

After almost five inches of rain all week, another inch overnight caused flooding in some parts of town and made the course unplayable.

"The bad news is I don't have a chance to catch Bruce. The good news is nobody has a chance to catch me," Nelson said.

Lietzke has earned $719,955 on the senior circuit this year and $1,839,529 since joining the tour last summer.

It was the second time the final round of a PGA Senior Tour event was washed out this year.

"There is some satisfaction in winning, without a doubt," he said. "I came here to win a tournament. But we always envision the classic way of winning golf tournaments.

"You want to sink your putt on No. 18, hug your wife, kiss your mom and shake hands with your caddie. But I'll get over it. I'll be fine. I'm just disappointed the people didn't get to see golf."

Lietzke, ironically, was born in Kansas City during what is known as the Great Flood of 1951. Elizabeth Lietzke had always traveled to Wichita to have her babies delivered by her private physician. But because of the flood, she had to stay home when Bruce was born.

"I was born in the Great Flood of 1951 and now here I am 50 years later still trying to get out of town," he said with a laugh.

Kansas City golf fans, in the meantime, are hoping the tournament itself will not be canceled. Officials, with the help of Kansas City native Tom Watson, have not yet lined up a title sponsor for next year.

"I'm very optimistic the event will continue in Kansas City," tournament director Jeff Kleiber said. "It's a great golf town. it's a perfect venue, perfect community for a senior tour event. We just need to resolve the title sponsor issues."

Kleiber expects an announcement "by mid- to late summer."

"We're in the middle of some pretty serious dialogue with some people. We're doing what needs to be done. It takes time," he said.