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February 26, 2013

Not going anywhere

MARANA, Ariz. — Bruce Lietzke would have noticed a banana inside the cover of his long putter.

One of the famous stories about Lietzke, a 13-time winner on the PGA Tour, is that he never touched a club when he wasn’t on tour. His caddie didn’t believe him, so at the end of the 1984 season, he put a banana inside the head cover of Lietzke’s driver before zipping up the travel bag. Some 15 weeks later at the Bob Hope Classic, the caddie excitedly unzipped the travel bag.

The stench should have been the first clue.

“Sure enough, he pulled off that head cover and the banana ... it was not yellow,” Lietzke said Monday. “It was black, nasty, fungus. He said he’d never doubt me again.”

Lietzke confessed to breaking his own rules when it came to the broom-handled putter that he picked up at the Phoenix Open in 1991 and used the rest of his career. Even in his down time, he would tinker with the length of the putter and practice with it. And he wonders what the conversation would have been like today if that 1991 PGA Championship had turned out differently.

Lietzke was the runner-up at Crooked Stick behind a big-hitting rookie named John Daly. Imagine if Lietzke had won that major.

Would the USGA have banned the putter he anchored against his chest?

“I think so,” Lietzke said. “Judging by their reaction to major successes, I guess they were just waiting for this to happen. The USGA should have made a statement then. If I had won the PGA Championship, they might have tried to outlaw it. And if you look back on it, most people would have gone along with it.”

That was one of the arguments PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem put forth Sunday when he said the tour was against the proposed rule that would ban the anchored stroke primarily used for long putters and belly putters.

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