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July 5, 2006

Tom Lehman


GORDON SIMPSON: We welcome Tom Lehman for the first of two visits to the K Club, this week. He's concentrating on playing this week, but I think he'll be having his eye on this little gold trophy in front of us here. Does it make your heart beat a little faster now that you're back at The K Club and seeing everything taking shape?

TOM LEHMAN: It does. I wasn't sure what this thing looked like, I haven't seen it for so long.

Yeah, I'm really happy to be here. Very excited about the tournament this week and also very excited about all of the excitement about all of the event in September. Certainly, obvious that everyone in Ireland with a thrilled about the Ryder Cup, and I know the U.S. team and all of the players who are trying so hard it be a part of the team are thrilled about it and can't wait to come and play.

GORDON SIMPSON: Can you feel the pace gathering now very quickly heading into midsummer?

TOM LEHMAN: There's no question, the Ryder Cup is on everybody's mind. The players who are trying to make our team are extremely motivated to make the team and almost to the point sometimes that they try so hard, and then with our system of only Top 10s getting points, it becomes a bit of a it can be somewhat negative because you want to be a part of the team so badly. You know you need to crack that Top 10 to get that point. There are a number of guys who just keep finishing 12, and 14th and 15th and 11th who play good golf and never get points.

Q. You invited prospective team members to play here but they haven't taken up that invite?

TOM LEHMAN: It wasn't a general invitation. It was a suggestion that if anyone wanted to take the time to play three weeks in Europe, that this would be an option for them. I guess I'm all about providing options to guys and putting things in their minds to think about. And one would be if you're in a position where you want to spend three weeks in Europe, it would be great to come to the K Club and play and play the Scottish Open and then play the British Open. Or come play the European Open and take a week off and play some links golf and then play, whatever it might be.

I think because this tournament is not being held on the other course this year, had a huge impact on the fact that nobody decided to come and play. Although, there will be four or five guys here next week playing, and there will be another trip made after the PGA Championship after the NEC in August.

So I feel very good about the fact that many there's been some other guys, Tiger has played here 25 times. He's been here a lot. David Toms and Jim Furyk and Davis Love and Chad Campbell and Tim Herron will be here next week. And then in August, we'll have probably the remainder of the team and then maybe a few extra guys coming as well. So I feel very good about the commitment our players are showing to come and see this golf course.

Q. Davis Love has dropped out of the top ten - is that a concern?

TOM LEHMAN: Davis is an example of the guy that I was talking about. He knows what the Ryder Cup means and what it's all about. He badly wants to be a part of the team. I think there's an element of wanting it so badly that you tend to almost inhibit your performance, thinking about what you need to do. And thinking about the ramifications of a good week can cause you to shoot 72 or 73 on Sunday as opposed to shooting 68. The guy who is playing well, they are not thinking about the what ifs. They are not thinking about what happens if you play well. They are just playing. And sometimes you start thinking about what can come of a good week and it can actually well, definitely hurts your performance.

So there's a real fine line I've seen as part of being the captain is, how much do you really want to talk to the guys about the Ryder Cup and being a part of our team and everything. Because you can get it the point where it becomes a bit of a you project so far in the future, you forget about taking care of today.

Q. What about the fact that you have five players in the team that no-one here have heard about?

TOM LEHMAN: No, won't concern me one bit. I think the reason that the players are who in the Top 10 are in the Top 10 is because they played the best golf this year, plain and simple. It's very seldom that the stars win the Cup for you. It's usually the stars are the stars. They do their part. But it's the guys who you don't expect who come through who get the job done and make you victorious.

There really isn't a guy who in our Top 10 who I mean, they are all good players. I'm sure if you talked to any of The European Tour guys, say who is Zach Johnson, they would say, oh, I've played with him a couple of times, he's really good. He can drive the ball in play and he can putt. Or who is Vaughn Taylor? Vaughn Taylor is the quiet version of Ian Poulter. That's just the way it is.

Q. Time heals - how long will it take Tiger to heal?

TOM LEHMAN: That's a great question and I wish I knew the answer to that. I think Tiger's father was always the guy that you could go to no matter what the situation or no matter what the circumstance who could give him the straight truth and that perfect advice that he needed. I don't know how you replace someone like that. You can have all kind of great friends around you and a great wife and everything, but there's no way to replace what you lost. So I think I guess I can't answer that question.

Q. Are you favourites or underdogs?

TOM LEHMAN: I'd say we're underdogs, without question. I think underdogs in the fact that we've gotten thumped quite regularly over the last decade, but even looking at the World Rankings today, I think there's more of the European players who are ranked in the Top 25 than our American players.

So I think you look at the team from that perspective, all perspectives, I see the European Team as being very strong, and I see the American team as in transition. But yet also very strong. There's a number of players who I have an incredible amount of faith in, a lot of confidence in, but yet who are kind of on the way up. A guy like Lucas Glover, for example, a guy like Arron Oberholser just outside the Top 10, guys who I have tremendous confidence in. But yet they are not real well known on the world stage and still they are basically, they are going up.

Q. Inaudible

TOM LEHMAN: We still have two majors to go and two months worth of points. Our team can change in a hurry. Davis Love, Fred Couples, Scott Verplank, Chris DiMarco is not far away. There's a chance, a good chance that as you see from week to week that our team could change in its look very quickly.

But even still, I am not at all afraid of taking, you know, a bunch of inexperienced guys to play, I really am not. I've played a lot of golf with all of these guys and I have a great amount of confidence in their abilities and more than anything else, you know, the young guys are really hungry. They are really motivated to be a part of this team. You can't replace the attitude of guys who have a bit of a competitive chip on their shoulder; they have something to prove. It's a great way to play golf like you have something to prove. A lot of our young guys have that. They have this bit of an edge to them, feel like they have something to prove. I like that. I like that.

So being the underdog, that's not a bad place to be for us. It's unusual but I don't mind it. My own career has been that way. I've always been the kind of guy that's been overlooked and a bit of the underdog, so I don't mind playing from that direction at all.

Q. Do you prefer being the underdog?

TOM LEHMAN: I think being the underdog is good. I have no problem with that.

Q. What will you tell them?

TOM LEHMAN: We've got no chance to win, we're just going to stay home, all right. (Laughter).

Q. How will they cope with the weather and the patriotic Irish fans?

TOM LEHMAN: With all kinds of Guinness flowing? You forgot to mention that part, too. We are a bunch of spoiled Americans who play well in warm weather and no wind.

The one thing I read in the States that just drives me nuts is the American players are spoiled, they travel in their private jets, they are a bunch of you know, they don't have heart, they don't have they are not tough. To me it's so far from the truth. So many guys have grown up and especially now that golf has changed so much, the Tour on the U.S. has changed so much because of the influx of international players that the younger players the are not just coming right out of college and stepping on Tour and being huge successes. They have to go earn their stripes somewhere else.

So they have had to go through, you know, some of the tougher places to play in order to kind of earn their stripes. And so I see a lot of very, very unspoiled golfers who don't have it's a total misconception is what I'm saying. If the guys grow up playing in harsh conditions, a lot of guys grew up in Minnesota or the northeast or in Seattle where it rains and they are capable of playing they are tough guys, they are very tough guys.

Vaughn Taylor, I'll mention him again. He gets brought up a lot since he's up with of those guys you never heard up in the Top 10. This guy grew up in Augusta on the muni golf course, never been to a private club, had to earn everything he's ever gotten in golf. He went to I think Augusta State to play golf. I mean, he is a tough, tough competitor and a tough individual. You know, I'll take him anywhere. So I'm not at all opposed to or afraid of coming to Ireland to play in the Ryder Cup with Vaughn Taylor on my team.

Q. For your picks, do you favour reputation or current form?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I that's a tough one. I would have to say that form is way more important to me than reputation. But every team needs a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Chris DiMarco has always brought to the team a huge amount of enthusiasm, a lot of emotion. He's a fun guy to be around and he's very passionate about the things that he loves.

You know, he went skiing in I guess at the end of February and don't go skiing, just don't go skiing. And I actually called a guy he was skiing with and I said: Tell DiMarco if he blows out his knee, I'm going to break his neck. He didn't break his knee but he fell on a Schnapps bottle and broke his rib or whatever. At least take those aluminum cans that will bend when you fall on them, don't take a glass bottle of Schnapps with you. Let your wife carry it. (Laughter) So let her break her rib. She's not swinging the golf club.

So now he's in a position where he is behind the 8 ball. So he is a perfect example of, what do you choose, do you choose form or something else? What he has to bring to the team is valuable. You know, but if he's not playing well, you know, how do you pick him? So my message to him is, and has been, you know, get yourself in the Top 10. You've got two months. Go do it.

Q. What is the secret ingredient the Europeans have for foursomes?

TOM LEHMAN: That's like Kentucky Fried Chicken, isn't it? Exactly. I've got some friends who live in Memphis, Tennessee, the south. This lady who just moved into town, she asked this other woman for the recipe to these brownies that she made that were so good. The lady said, well, you've got to add a couple of milk and a cup of that and a cup of that. She failed to say that you've got to add the buttermilk, so the brownies are never the same. She forgot to tell her it was butter milk. So there is a secret. I understand there is a secret. I think the secret is they drink buttermilk for breakfast the instead of regular milk. I think there is a secret.

I think what they do is based on I look at comedy. There's a two man comedy team and one guy delivers the punch line and the other guy sets him up. To me that's the way teams work best when you have a guy who is the setup guy and a guy who delivers the punch. So the secret in formulating your team is to play that way; one guy you can depend on that putts the ball on the green and the other guy just delivers the hammer. So a part of it is personality, a part of it is style. You know, the Japanese send two business guys out together and one of them is like the big guy, the other one is like the apprentice, okay. There's definitely an element that works best in partnerships where one guy is the lead dog and the other guy plays the supporting role.

Q. Would John Daly figure on your plans for a pick?

TOM LEHMAN: He hasn't been playing much at all and he hasn't been playing well. I know he always plays well in Europe when he comes here, but he really hasn't done anything to warrant a second look at this point. I do agree, he's a very talented individual but he needs to be playing some better golf.

Q. Woosie said he would play the match tomorrow - would you?

TOM LEHMAN: I would be, too, if I were him. Yeah, I would be. I would take those ten guys and pick two and that's it, go at it, absolutely.

Q. Is it important to have the right chemistry in a partnership?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I think so. I think we've been way too concerned about what golf ball to play and pairing it based upon both they play the Nike Golf ball or they both play Titleist. You know what

Q. So it doesn't make a difference?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, yes, it does make a difference, it is something to think about. But yeah, there seems to be individuals who bring out best in each other. There seems to be a chemistry that makes people really tough to beat. Duffy Waldorf and I play together every year for five or six years in a team event and we are almost unbeatable. We won four times and finished second the other two. It's just those things, you know, where we had a great chemistry. He trusted me, I trusted him and both of us were I was obviously ranked pretty high in the world at that time. And he wasn't like the kind of guy that would throw the fear of God into you, and I probably wasn't either quite frankly. But together we're really hard to beat. So the chemistry is important.

Q. Why have your bit hitters not have good records?

TOM LEHMAN: I can't explain it. I think the pairings with Tiger can be a tough thing. How you find the right guy who play with Tiger who is not going to be more worried about Tiger than the opponent? Let's be honest. Sometimes you put the wrong guy with Tiger, he's way more concerned and way more worried about Tiger than about Clarke and Westwood. How do you beat Clarke and Westwood if you're just trying to keep your partner from being mad at you or staying out of his way or whatever. It's a tough pairing.

So there's the whole point of this conversation is to bring out each team needs to bring out the best in each other. So it's hard I think for some guys to play their best golf paired with Tiger.

Q. Does Tiger care as much for the Ryder Cup as Majors?

TOM LEHMAN: Absolutely. I don't know if I could answer that question, but I know that he cares a great deal about the Ryder Cup. I know he enjoys it a lot.

You know, Tiger is from what I've experienced with him is it matters to him a great deal on how you go about doing things. There's a way of competing, there's a way of conducting yourself in public, there's a way of treating other professionals, there's the right way of doing things and the wrong way, and I think it means a great deal to him to enjoy the Ryder Cup. It should be a fun event.

If I could say any one thing that's held the American team back in the years is that the Americans do not enjoy the actual competition enough. You have to actually have fun on the golf course in the midst of the battle. You have to enjoy that. And I think we tend to put too much pressure on ourselves and don't enjoy that. So if I could pick any one thing, that would be the thing I would say. We need to have fun in this competition.

Q. Inaudible

TOM LEHMAN: Did Woosie send you in here or what? (Laughter).

Let me think about that for about three months and I'll let you know, okay. (Laughter).

Q. Have you spoken to tiger about who could play with him?

TOM LEHMAN: No, I haven't talked to him about that yet. I've talked to him about the Ryder Cup. Tiger, it's been a tough year for him. He has other things on his mind. There's a time and a place for everything, and I think I've had one conversation that I really needed to have with him already and I know how he feels about it and he knows how I feel about it. He's got the British Open to worry about and the PGA and then he's got the Ryder Cup. So I know that those events are big on his calendar and each one has it's place. So I think to you give him his space and then you challenge.

Q. Inudible

TOM LEHMAN: Oh, yeah, I think it's important that everyone is honest with me. Every player needs to be honest with me and let me know what they think, and part of it is, you know, who do you want to play with who would you like to play with, if I put you with this guy, how would you feel about that. These are all questions you need to have asked.

The Presidents Cup was a great advantage to me because it showed me that I've got a really good fallback team, or, a team that I can start with in Furyk and Tiger. That seems to be a strong option.

Q. Is there a pressure to pick 11th or someone further down the list at 24th or whatever?

TOM LEHMAN: I finished 11th one year and was not picked. There's a bit of that history with me that I know what it feels like to be 11th and to get passed. But if I had to be honest about all that, how you did you get to be 11th.

For example, I was in the Top 10 for two straight years and then just slowly dropped out. So that's a negative. That's definitely a negative. If you're 20th and you're working your way up to 11th, that's a positive. So how did you get to 11th; that means a lot to me.

You know, what else do you have to offer besides your golf game? That means a lot to me. There's just a couple of guys who are in between 11th and 20th right now who I would see as being a great asset to our team because of their personality. You know, they are not neither of those guys are 11th. There's two guys in particular that I think would bring a lot to the team and they are not in the Top 10, they are not 11th, they are down a ways, but they would make our team better.

Q. Inaudible

TOM LEHMAN: I won't mention their names. But those are the things I look at. What does a team need? Does it need more experience? Does it need less experience? I guess as it stands right now, the two picks I have would be benefitting our team would be leaning towards guys with more experience. The flipside of that coin is that the last experience we've had in the last ten years has not been great experience. So how much experience is good and is it necessary to go for that experience when it's always been somewhat on the negative side.

One other thing I have done had which has been very helpful for me, going back to the makeup of our tour being way or international, with 90 plus international players, the downfall is that all of points don't get given out. Some weeks there's three American players in the top ten, sometimes it's five or seven. No weeks are all in the top ten. So I've been keeping a list of the top ten Americans each week for the last two years now so I can kind of compare the lists, and I think it's been very much of an eye opener.

The top players, you could give points based upon any system you want to and the top players would be in the top, period. But you know from maybe 7 or so through 30, you know, there's a huge difference when you include the top ten Americans versus just top ten. So I may be leaning quite heavily on that secondary list because that list is giving guys points for finishing 11th or 13th or 17th. The top ten Americans each week are getting points, so you're giving out all the points every week, so it's like talking about where every start does count.

So there's some I'll give you an example of that. Stewart Cink a couple weeks ago was 27th on the official Ryder Cup points list and he would be 7th if you were giving points to Americans each week. He's had a bunch of great finishes, 13th, 14th, ties for 10th in the Masters; where he's played pretty good golf, but not spectacular golf. But his bad golf has still been awfully good. But yet he's not accumulating any points. To me it helps to kind of see where you would be in another system and he's up there pretty high.

Q. Does the qualifying system suit you?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, we actually talked about that last year. I think the whole idea was to waive the point system so the guys who were playing the best in 2006 get on the team. But going forward you need to look and see, well, what can you do to make it even better yet, and that may be a better system even still.

GORDON SIMPSON: Tom, thank you very much for joining us today. Have a good week and enjoy the Ryder Cup when it happens.

End of FastScripts.

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