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September 23, 2006

Tom Lehman


GORDON SIMPSON: Ready to go into singles; it's 6 10 and you've been here before.

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I thought our team played with a lot of heart today. They played tough and hit a lot of great shots, played a lot of tough matches. Very, very, very proud of the way they performed. Obviously didn't get the result they were hoping for entirely, but I thought we played with a lot of heart, a lot of courage.

GORDON SIMPSON: If we get the singles draw while we're chatting, we'll impart that information to you.

Q. Scott Verplank was in here earlier and was visibly upset about being left out of the team with Johnson. Can you tell us what went into your decision to split that team up?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I would say that he's fine now. We just had a team meeting and he's fine.

I'm sure he's disappointed, or he was disappointed, and that's what makes him such a great competitor is that he wanted to play. I simply felt that this afternoon we needed to put what I considered to be our best teams out there, and I thought that Zach Johnson was playing great, and that's who I felt should play with Stewart Cink.

Q. Do you have a deep sense of foreboding about tomorrow? It just seems that whatever you do, it doesn't quite work, and the Europeans are on such a roll at the moment.

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, they sure are on a roll. I really tip my hat to how well they are playing. Very, very tough competitors, a lot of great putting. I'm not sure that I've seen, in all honesty from what I've been out watching, I don't think I've seen one time where they haven't got it up and down from the bunker, just a remarkable short game. I'm very much, you know, great admiration for the short game that the European Team has been showing us.

But I do, I've been feeling great about my team for a long time, and I've been feeling great about this Ryder Cup for a long time. And I can tell you right now that our team does not feel this is over by any stretch of the imagination. We know that we have to play our very best golf tomorrow, and we think we can do that.

Q. In '99, you were in a unique position as the leadoff for the U.S. Team in that rally. Wondering now as captain, what can you instill in the guy that you send out first and all your guys, that you maybe took from that experience in 1999 leading off?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think the one thing that the whole team went into that match that day with was the knowledge that they had to get it done. There was really just no other option. Everybody had to, you know, look inside and pull it out and realise that everybody had the responsibility to win. There was really not much margin for error.

Q. What about you personally, having gone out first in '99? Now that you're the captain, your personal experience going out in '99, what can you tell them about it?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, what made '99 so special, what made it so possible, was the fact that the first five or first six matches all got going so well so early. So you have to start with No. 1 and then you've got to pick it up with No. 2 and then you've got to carry with No. 3 and that's exactly what happened.

It doesn't have to happen that way; we don't have to win the first six matches tomorrow to have a chance, but you have to get some momentum going with your team. You need to see a lot of red on that board and a lot of red early. Those kind of things carry the team. We've seen enough for two days here, just the momentum that is created.

You know, the crowd being so by the way, they are phenomenal crowds, I have to say. Before I go any further, the crowds have been just remarkable, very respectful, true blue fans to whoever's side they are cheering for, but the Europeans' fans have been great this week. The Irish fans have been just simply phenomenal.

But anyway, going back to it, we just need to pick up momentum and go. That's just the way it has to work.

Q. Why do you think your team is being out putted?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Do you have an answer for me?

Q. No, I'm asking you.

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I'm asking you. I don't know. If I knew the answer, I'd tell my team. But you know, my team has been hitting a lot of good putts, they are just not going in. I saw a lot of putts that looked beautiful. The putt that Chad Campbell hit on the 18th hole, you can't hit a putt any better than that and it just grazed the lip. I feel like those putts for us, we're due to start making them.

Q. Do you think that it's because they just play here often and are more familiar with the subtleties or is it just home court advantage?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I'm not really sure. I guess I can't really answer that question. I mean, I watched them putt, and it seems to me that I've watched guys make on both sides make tentative strokes, and I've seen guys on both sides make really positive strokes. I watched Vaughn Taylor play, and he made just a whole bunch of beautiful strokes with just beautiful speed and burned the edges and burned the edges and he got a great halve. He putted extremely well, and he made some putts, but he didn't run the tables.

That's why I feel like tomorrow could be the day. A lot of guys are hitting putts that look really, really good and they are just not going in the hole. When they start going in, they go in in buckets.

GORDON SIMPSON: Before we go to the next question, do you want to put the public out of their misery?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: First match, Toms and Montgomerie; second match, Cink and Garcia; third match, Furyk and Casey; fourth match, Woods and Karlsson; fifth match, Campbell and Donald; sixth match, Henry and McGinley; seventh match, Johnson and Clarke; eighth match, Taylor and Stenson; ninth match, Wetterich and Howell; 10th match, Mickelson and Olazábal; 11th match, DiMarco and Westwood; and the last match of the day, Verplank and Harrington.

Q. That might have sort of knocked my question on the head, I'm afraid. With regards to the singles lineup, is that a case of you putting what you perceive to be your big guns out first?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I think it's a way for us to carry the momentum through the lineup, so we have I'd say very, very strong players all the way through, obviously with some of our best players in the top third but surrounded by extremely good players all the way on down. So I feel like we have a chance to carry momentum all the way through the lineup, and then with the last few guys, we have a chance to close it out if we get the chance.

Q. On that score, it's a question I was going to ask before the singles, but were you relieved somewhat to see Tiger Woods play better this afternoon, and was his performance maybe undermining the team a little? Were they a little bit worried through the team that he was not playing very well?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know what, our team, I can tell everybody now, draws so much confidence from Tiger Woods. You know, there's not a person in our team that doesn't look at him and just feel better because he's there. They had a great point. They made a huge point this afternoon. I can't tell you how big that point was. That was a huge lift, and he and Jim really, really clicked in and kind of got it into gear and played great golf. To a man, we're all thankful that Tiger is on our team.

Q. Each session was very similar in that it was 2½ 1½ at the end, but early, Europe was up in three matches in each of the four sessions. Can you talk about that early momentum they had in the early blue and what effect it's had on the two days?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, you look at that scoreboard, it's just remarkable; it must be 90 percent blue over the course of the matches. And then some ending up halved and some getting won. We have found it very difficult to kind of get things going.

It has not been like we've gotten way down early for the most part. There's been a couple matches I suppose, but most of the matches have been extremely tight. But being that we were basically down 1 down, 2 down, 1 down, that's why I'm so proud of my team. My team has just, you know, fought to overcome great play to playing over here in Ireland with the crowds so vocal and cheering for the whole team. They have had to overcome a lot and they fought through it, and I'm very, very proud of their effort.

Q. George Bush famously addressed the Brookline team with the letter from the Alamo. He happens to be here this week; any plans for an encore?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: That was the other George Bush.

Q. I know George Bush, Sr., is here.

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, he is. He's welcome. He's been invited, but I think he's maybe leaving. He's been invited to come and visit the team, and he's seen them all on the golf course.

He is quite a remarkable person. I don't know if you've ever met him or not, but a remarkable, remarkable person and a great supporter of our team.

Q. The pairings here in singles look very similar to what happened in '99 philosophically. Is that true, or did you have some other theories coming in, and then I had to go to this one, because you are now, or how did you come up with this?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I think there's we tried to think what the European Team might do. I feel like we kind of came pretty close actually. I feel like we came very close to guessing what their team might do, and I think that's why we have the lineup that we have.

Q. Did you feel like you had to have certain match ups on top of everything else?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I wouldn't say match ups. The big thing, as I said before, is we feel like we need to get some momentum going and carry it on down the line. There really cannot be any breaks, so you want to put the team in the right order where guys can get the thing going and then other guys can feed off it and keep it going.

You know, I look at our lineup and I see someone like Vaughn Taylor who is at No. 8. You know, if things are going well in the front, especially really getting charged up and playing great. You saw how he played today. I don't know that I've ever been more proud of a person in my whole life than I was of Vaughn Taylor today the way he played. He was simply remarkable.

Q. In 1999, Ben Crenshaw sat in the media room on Saturday night, same score, shook his finger and said, "I've got a feeling about this." Have you got a feeling about this? (Laughter.)

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: (Waving finger) (laughter).

I know that our team has a chance, and I know that we have the ability to get the job done, and I know that our guys are determined to do it.

So do I have a feeling? I have a feeling that our team is going to play incredibly inspired golf tomorrow. They are going to go out, and no matter who they are playing against, they are going to lay it all on the line, they are going to give it all they have got. They are going to make our team proud, they are going to make our wives proud and they are going to make our country proud and they are going to give it their very best.

Q. Back to Tiger for a moment. The way he was struggling this morning, we were all concerned he might not snap out of it the rest of the day. Do you think it was simply a matter of making that putt on the third hole this afternoon that got him on track, or any theories on how or why he got on track?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I wasn't concerned. Tiger's Tiger. He's the best player that I've ever played golf with. You know, he's just you can't keep him down, period.

Q. Can you just talk, your top teams have not given you really as much as your rookies even have this week. Does it surprise you? Can you kind of comment on how that performance is going?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Match play, it's match play. What can you say, it's match play.

Q. There's been so many comparisons to Brookline, I suppose because of the score, but is it going to be hard to inspire your team or harder to inspire a team when you look across the board at a European Team that is clearly without much of a weakness compared to '99?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I don't see a lot of weaknesses on our team, either.

Q. Was there ever any thought given to sitting Mickelson out in one of the sessions today?


Q. You did break up one of your top teams, Phil and Chris. Did you have any thought of breaking up Tiger and Jim at all?


Two direct answers right there. No, I didn't consider either of those.

Q. Did you consider putting Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the singles, and if you did, why did you choose to put him at four?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, we got together, me and my assistants, and discussed who we thought might go first. And we thought there would be a good chance that Monty would go first. We also felt there would be a good chance that maybe he wouldn't go first and they would put two strong players out followed by the best players on their team. And so we knew we needed to have a very, very strong player going out first who we felt could handle Montgomerie. And also, we wanted to save Tiger for a little bit later in the match.

I'm not sure that makes any sense. We wanted a strong player out first to be able to handle whoever they threw at us first, including their very best or one of their best, and we also want to save Tiger in a spot such as No. 4, where he can have a direct impact on the match.

GORDON SIMPSON: Tom, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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