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May 29, 2010

Tom Lehman


KELLY ELBIN: Tom Lehman, the co-leader going to the final round of the 71st Senior PGA Championship. Tom shot 71 again today, he's tied with Jay Don Blake at 6-under par with one round to go. Tom, sorry to have to ask this, but TV had gone off and we didn't see what happened on number 17. Could you tell us what happened with the 6 that you made there and then some comments from there, please.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, you got it. I hit a good tee shot, which is unusual to say when you make a 6. But I hit a 7-iron just the way I wanted to, trying to hit a low, solid, drawing 7-iron that would land in the front third of green and just chase back to the hole. It didn't carry the green. It hit the lip of the bunker and just went down in the bunker. Which is a big surprise.
I hit the shot, I actually said, was talking to it to get down. I thought I hit it too well. And it came up short.
The bunker, I hit two sand shots and I would like to -- well all I can say is that there was a lot of sand in the bunker. It is very deep and very heavy. And I've had a number of bunker shots this week and the sand wasn't like that.
So I did, I left two in the bunker. Actually I left one in the bunker. And then the second bunker shot it kicked off the green and went in the rough. And I chipped up and 2-putted for an easy triple.
So really didn't feel like I deserved a six, but I walked away with a six and there you have it. So, but the 18th the hole was a good finish. I was not very happy, obviously, to give all my hard work back on one hole.
I made a really, really good birdie on the 18th hole. And I kind of walked away from the round feeling pretty good.
KELLY ELBIN: What did you hit on 18, club, distance, and length of putt.
TOM LEHMAN: I had 190 or 185 or something like that and I hit a 5-iron. Just kind of pushed it a hair so it stayed in the right fringe and then I made it from the fringe about a 30, 30 to 35 foot putt.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.

Q. I think you hit maybe 15 of the first 16 greens and then played so solid and then you said you thought you hit a great shot on 17. So how tough is that to swallow?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, well, I was really surprised the tee shot ended up there. I have to be honest. Like I say when I hit the shot it's a really good shot for me there, I aimed at the right edge of the green, trying to hit a low solid 7-iron. And hoped to just carry it 10 or 15 steps on to the green and let it just chase on back.
And I hit it and I was on the exact right line that I wanted and I told I thought, well this may go to the back of the green, I was telling it to get down and then it went in the bunker and I was obviously very surprised. Very surprised.
Then the next two shots that Couples hit and Kite hit, they both hit pretty good shots and they went way short as well. So it was obvious the wind was more hurting there than we all thought it was. It felt more across.
But you tend to get a feel for the bunkers and these bunkers are not easy. The sand is heavy to begin with, it's the club tends to kind of tend to bury a little bit in the sand and kind of kills momentum. But that bunker there was abnormally heavy and very deep and very soft soft sand and it's a very deep bunker. And very hard shot.
What can you say? You know, I think you know as a golfer you can't, you can't punish yourself for one mistake. One bad hole. You have to kind of let it go. I played a lot of good golf out here this week and so one bad hole can't, you can't let that get at you too much.

Q. Can you just talk about what is like to go into the final round with a share the of the lead and a chance to win another Major?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it's exciting. Very exciting. I look forward to the day tomorrow. I really like the golf course and it's I really enjoy playing, it's very creative. So to play a course like this that you enjoy, having a chance to win a Major is a great opportunity. There's, it's a hard course.
As you've seen, you can make some a lot of bogeys out there if you're not really paying attention. So there's a lot of guys who are still in the hunt, but when you're sharing the lead, and you play a good round it makes it really tough for the rest of the guys.
So if I play a good round tomorrow, somebody's got to play a great round tomorrow to beat me. And if Jay Don plays a good round, somebody's got to play a great round to beat him. That's the nice thing about leading it is it's kind of in your control.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about the guys figuring out the course, figuring out how to play the course, is that happening or is the wind sort of negating that?
TOM LEHMAN: I think it's happening. I think that there's definitely a learning curve going on. The wind is shifting a couple times this week and so it hasn't been playing exactly the same the whole time and today was a big shift in the afternoon when the wind came from the north. But I think players are understanding the greens and where you can miss and where to hit the shots, how to play the shots, where you can get away with it, where you can't. The short par-4s, when to go for it, when to lay up.
That's kind of the beauty of the golf course. The 16th hole, you know, go left or go right. Because there's definitely a difference in the way the second shot plays when you go left or right.
I think that guys are understanding that more and more and I think that that's the beauty of the golf course. It makes you think.

Q. Some of us had talked about this the first day, I think you had the best round of the afternoon on Thursday. How important was that considering where you are now?
TOM LEHMAN: It would have been easy to have shot yourself out of the tournament Thursday afternoon the way the course was playing. It was really tough. Yeah, it was a very, very big day. Obviously that was the low round of the week for me so far. I shot a 71 the last two rounds. And the reason I'm at where I'm at is because of that first round.
You can score in the wind. You really can. You just have to kind of pay attention and put the ball in the right spots. And I always believe that you just can't try to do too much. You got to just take what's given to you and don't try to force anything and pars are usually going to be good. You make par, you feel good about it, you make another par, you feel good about it. You sneak a birdie in you feel really good about it. As long as you don't make too many bogeys or any big numbers you can get in a good round.

Q. How does the intensity feel out there compared to say when you're trying to win all those big tournaments in the '90s?
TOM LEHMAN: Compared to the '90s you say?

Q. When you were competing for those Majors.
TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, it's, this Champions Tour is a really, really interesting TOUR because the guys are all, there's a lot of really great camaraderie out here. But when you get down to the nitty gritty these guys are still really competitive and they really want to win.
So it's no different now. Yeah, I think as a professional you just, having a chance to win is just, that's significant. That's what you play for. So whether it's this TOUR or the PGA TOUR, that chance to win means a lot. And the intensity level is way up there. The focus is way up there. You're giving it all you got.

Q. How difficult is it for a player on TOUR to forget one very bad shot, one very bad hole? Is it easier said than done?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I think it's harder to forget bad shots. It's easy to forget a bad hole if you feel like it was just a fluke. And that's the way I look at 16 or 17 today is it was just a fluke.
If you hit a series of bad shots or a bunch of bad shots and it costs you a bunch of shots out there, it's hard to get past that because you know that mechanically you're off and you're just misfiring. So that's where the snowball comes. You start pressing more and more and you go from bad to worse.
So ability to shake off a kind of a fluky, goofy bad hole that came out of nowhere, that's, I think that's pretty easy.

Q. You've played both the PGA TOUR and the Champions Tour this year and kind of following up on the last question, do you think that playing the PGA TOUR enhances your position when you get into a position like this? You played 72 hole events, the walking, etcetera, etcetera. Do you think that working both tours gives you an advantage in this situation?
TOM LEHMAN: I think playing well on the PGA TOUR gives you an advantage. I think playing poorly out there doesn't. Going out there and missing cuts doesn't do you any good at all.
But if you go out there and compete well and play well and finish well and feel like you have a chance to actually win a tournament out there or something is -- look at what Fred has done. So that is a huge benefit. There's nothing that creates good play more than good play. Especially in the biggest environment.

Q. What are your thoughts on number 8? The short par-4. Do you think there should be more of them out there?
TOM LEHMAN: I really like them. If you look at the way our group played it today, that 8th hole, for example, you see why you like them. We had -- Fred hit 3-wood, in the bunker and left it short of the green. Tom hit driver and in the left rough and left it short of the green. Couldn't get on the green.
The hole's 300 yards long and two of the best players in the world and they can't get on in two. So that shows you -- the beauty of that hole is if you don't hit a really good shot, you probably can't get your second shot on the green. And to me that's the way a great par-4 operates.
And on top of that it's inviting looking. It's not so narrow and so tough looking that it makes you want to just take out your 6-iron and play 6-iron sand wedge. It kind of invites the driver.
Just like number 14. 14's even more inviting. Even wider. And I really do, I think that the beauty of the great short par-4s are that they invite you to hit driver. But then they really really really punish a driver that's out of position.

Q. Did you hit driver?
TOM LEHMAN: I hit driver on both of them and I hit it perfect. Nearly perfect on both of them.
KELLY ELBIN: Tom birdied both 8 and 14 today.

Q. A few minutes ago Jay Don got pretty emotional about over coming things. Physical problems for many years. There's a lot of those stories out here. Are you empathetic about all those and does that kind of make, I don't know if you had things to overcome, but does that make kind of the TOUR special?
TOM LEHMAN: I think absolutely that's what makes you want to cheer for a guy like Jay Don. Look, it's nice to see the good guys do well. And Jay Don Blake is one of the good guys. So to see him play well just feels good.
To have to overcome stuff that it's in your way and kind of, to kind of get back to where you want to be, that takes a lot of courage. And it takes a great amount of support from your family and I'm sure he has that. So yeah, if all the people were like Jay Don the world would be a lot better place.
KELLY ELBIN: Tom Lehman, tied for the lead going into the final round of the Senior PGA Championship. Thank you.
TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.

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