/Jim Gallagher, Jr remembers his pal, ‘Leaky’

Jim Gallagher, Jr remembers his pal, ‘Leaky’

He was now joining the Tommy Armour Golf Clubs staff, which is a pretty rewarding job if you’re lucky. You get paid a lot to use their clubs. Gallagher mentions that Bruce Lietzke was there when Gallagher met him. “Leaky was already on staff at Tommy Armour. He became my mentor instantly. That was who I wanted to become. Gallagher was 10 years younger than Lietzke. He had won nine times on PGA Tour. Gallagher was attracted to Lietzke’s win, but not because of his winning. Gallagher was attracted to his calm, polite demeanor and the fact that he placed his family first, with golf second. Gallagher, a Greenwood resident, now announces for The Golf Channel. Bruce Lietzke died on July 28, at the age of just 67. Lietzke was the victim of aggressive brain cancer known as glioblastoma. Gallagher states, “You’ll just need to trust me on that.” “It is impossible to find anyone who didn’t like Leaky, and you won’t find any.” He was the most kind person you could imagine. He showed the greatest respect to everyone. He loved his family… he loved his family. He was a gifted man. He could hit a golf shot. He took me under his wing. We spent most of our practice rounds together. This was before smartphones. It was just a habit that we had. We would meet at 9 o’clock in the morning and hit some balls before going out to play. This friendship was built. He used to only hit golf balls. His pace was so effortless, so natural. He is the reason I hit a fade. Gallagher believes Lietzke was instrumental in changing the way he hit a golf club. He won five times on tour including the 1993 Tour Championship. He also became a U.S. Ryder Cup champion. Gallagher said that Lietzke was a tremendous encourager. “I will never forget that I played in the PGA Championship with Leaky and he was interviewed after it. He spoke highly of me, and the great future ahead of me. It really, truly meant a lot. Gallagher was asked by The Golf Channel to speak about Lietzke on the broadcast. Gallagher admits that it was more difficult than I expected, but he managed to get through it. “I just spoke what I felt.” He could tell so many stories about golf but Gallagher seems to enjoy talking about Lietzke the person. Gallagher states that Leaky was clear about his priorities. His family was first. He played very few tournaments because of this. He would take the summers off while his children were at school. He put the clubs down and he put them down.” Another famous story: His caddy placed a banana under the driver’s cover before one of Lietzke’s extended breaks from the tour to check if Litzke actually didn’t practice during his vacations from playing golf. The banana was still there, and it smelled terrible, months later when Lietzke returned to the Tour. Gallagher said, “I tried to model mine career after him.” Gallagher says, “But the truth of it is, I couldn’t not practice as he did. I must play and practice. He didn’t. Leaky did everything his way and on his terms. Gallagher’s family was first.” Gallagher and Kathleen Gallagher, a LSU golfer, visited Dallas last month to see Kathleen at a tournament. They made what turned out was a last visit to Lietzke’s ranch and Rose, his wife. Gallagher said, “I wanted him to know what he meant.”