MONKEY ISLAND — Bruce Lietzke, who represented Shangri-La Resort from 1978-88 during a successful career on the PGA Tour, died Saturday, July 29, at his home in Athens, Texas, of brain cancer.
Lietzke, who lived on Grand Lake during that 10-year stretch, won 13 PGA Tour events and another seven on the PGA Champions Tour.
Nine of his wins came while living on Grand Lake.
Jay Wagner met Lietzke several times while director of sales and marketing at Shangri-La.
“He was just a nice down-to-earth guy,” Wagner said. “He was pretty well known and he was a great golfer. Shangri-La loved him since he was associated with us.
“He was just a good friend to everybody and he loved Shangri-La.”
Lietzke is a candidate for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
He was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, in April 2017, and had surgery to remove a golf-ball sized tumor. He then had chemo and radiation treatments.
Lietzke had a major setback in April, according to the Port Arthur (Texas) News.
“Our PGA Tour family lost a treasured member with the death of Bruce Lietzke,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement on the Tour’s website. “He touched on parts of five decades as a player, competed in 700 tournaments as a member of the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, and recorded a total of 20 victories.
“But to celebrate Bruce Lietzke's life properly, we offer praise to the great family man and the cherished friend to many.”
His biggest career win was the 2003 U.S. Senior Open.
Lietzke placed second in the 1991 PGA Championship.
Three of his Tour wins came in 1981 — taking the Bob Hope Desert Classic, the Wickes-Andy Williams San Diego Open and the Byron Nelson Golf Classic.
Lietzke also played in the 1981 Ryder Cup and was part of golf’s equivalent of the “Dream Team,” joining the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd, Baxter Springs native Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller, Tom Kite and brother-in-law Jerry Pate.
He played in 506 PGA Tour events, but never more than 20 in a single season after 1988.
Lietzke never finished below 74th on the money list during that stretch.
From 1976 to 1995 he was inside the top 30 on the money list 11 times. He consistently ranked among the top drivers for distance and accuracy and hit a lot of greens, leading the Tour in that statistic in 1982, 1985 and 1986.
And all that came despite being known for not practicing much.
“We hunted, we fished, but most importantly, we all laughed with ‘Lieky.’ He was truly one of the good guys and will be missed,” two-time U.S. Open winner Curtis Strange said in a Twitter post.
“He was Bruce Lietzke the pro golfer, but he was just Bruce Lietzke the nice guy,” Wagner said. “He was the standard-bearer for the whole island.”
— The Associated Press contributed information to this report.