2002: Lietzke makes repeat performance

Cary, N.C.

Bruce Lietzke finally has to admit it. Prestonwood Country Club fits his game – and his high fade – just fine.

Lietzke captured the SAS Championship for the second consecutive year Sept. 22. He shot a course-record 9-under-par 63 in the second round, then cruised to a ho-hum 67 Sunday that left him with a four-stroke victory.

“I am starting to change my ideas about this not being a fader’s golf course,” said Lietzke, who earned $255,000 for his third Senior PGA Tour victory of the year. “I’ve just got too much proof otherwise to deny that now.”

Lietzke hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation to finish at 14-under 202, four shots ahead of Tom Watson (69), Sammy Rachels (67) and Gil Morgan (67).

Lietzke finished one stroke off his 15-under total last year. He hit 49 of 54 greens in 2001 and 47 of 54 this year.

Lietzke, who closed 66-66 to win last year’s inaugural event by three shots, trailed Andy North by a stroke at the beginning of this year’s final round. But North struggled early and Lietzke took the lead for good when he made a tap-in birdie at No. 8 and a 12-footer on the next hole to lead by two at the turn.

Lietzke made a key 8-foot putt for par on No. 15 after a chip from the deep rough as he was clinging to a two-shot lead over the fast-charging Morgan and Rachels.

“That up-and-down on 15 kept me from losing any momentum,” said Lietzke, who finished off his victory with birdies on the final two holes.

North, who has done more television commentating for ESPN than playing in recent years, hasn’t won since the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. In 66 Senior PGA Tour events, he had never led going into the final round.

North, in the final pairing with Lietzke and Watson, bogeyed the second and third holes. He birdied No. 7 to tie Lietzke, but failed to make any kind of move on the back nine. He finished with a 76, tied for 11th.

– Staff and wire reports

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