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July 28, 2010

Tom Lehman


PETE KOWALSKI: We would like to welcome Mr. Tom Lehman. Tom is playing in his second Senior Open, finished 8th last year at Crooked Stick. Coming off a victory at the first of the Champions' Tour majors at the Colorado Golf Club at the Senior PGA Championship. And as you probably know, Mr. Lehman won the 1996 British Open.
Tom, you've had a chance to practice, you just got off the course, if you could give us a quick blush on your impressions of the golf course.
TOM LEHMAN: Well, the course is exactly as I remembered it from the two previous times we've been here at the PGA in '98 and then a World Golf Championship event, so rarely do you see a course that hasn't changed but this one hasn't. It was good then and it's good today. It's in great condition, firm greens. It should be a really good test.
PETE KOWALSKI: And the status of your game is obviously good, you've come off winning a major, that's probably where you want to be right now, right?
TOM LEHMAN: My game is solid. I played the last four weeks, this is my 5th week in a row. I've been playing well, every week I've had a solid week, and I have pretty high expectations.
PETE KOWALSKI: If I recall you had the best round of Sunday at the Senior British?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I shot 4-under, played extremely well on Sunday, made some mistakes early in the week but overall I'm happy with where my game is at.

Q. How does this course adapt or how do you adapt to this course? Good for your game in some holes or some not so good?
TOM LEHMAN: I think it fits my game really well, the greens are really firm. Unfortunately, the approaches to the greens are not firm, there are a lot of soft spots short so it makes it more difficult to bounce the ball up, but the greens are rolling quick and you're getting a nice, big bounce that first hop and those are conditions that typically, you know, fit me pretty well.

Q. Feeling fatigued at all considering how much you've played and where you have played the last few weeks?
TOM LEHMAN: You know, I felt really tired starting last week, the first few rounds of the Senior British Open, but I feel pretty good now, I always have found it easier traveling this direction versus the other. I've woke up at 1:00 the last two mornings and I'm having a hard time sleeping beyond that but I feel pretty good.

Q. Tom, well played in Colorado, it was a fantastic performance, but you upstaged Tom and Freddy Couples in the playoff. You aren't going to do that this week in front of his hometown fans, are you?
TOM LEHMAN: First of all he shot himself in the foot at Denver and I would love to spoil his day here, to be honest with you. And we're all here to win. And I know Freddy is a big favorite, he is everywhere, everywhere he goes he's a big favorite, especially here. He will be tough to beat. He will be very prepared and motivated and ready to play so he will be a hard guy to beat.

Q. Tom, can you talk about your friend Corey Pavin who is determined to play well this week despite being a Ryder Cup captain which is an experience that you went through yourself; so great that he's playing well wearing that hat, right?
TOM LEHMAN: I'm not surprised, he's been a great player for a long time and in some ways becoming the captain adds a little bit of something to you, that maybe you feel better about where you're at professionally and maybe it takes a little pressure off, I don't know. All I know is this is a really good course for him. He's going to be another tough guy to beat this week.

Q. Tom, so many more guys are switching a little bit, playing both Tours, how much does that help the quality of play on the Champions Tour when guys are getting tested against the PGA TOUR guys?
TOM LEHMAN: I think it keeps guys' games sharp. The quality of play out here is outstanding. There are so many players who are capable of being successful on both Tours and you mentioned a couple of guys, Corey, Freddy, Jay Haas still can do it, Fred Funk still can do it, and guys like Tommy Armour goes back and forth and Pernice goes back and forth. Kenny Perry soon will be out here. I think it makes for a high level of playing and I think it has benefited this Tour a great deal. People look at this Tour and they know the players, they recognize the players and a lot of times they've grown up watching the players and they realize these guys can still really play.

Q. Just wondering, what specifically has been I guess a real positive in your game? What are the things that allowed you to -- T-14 at the British Open, you made the cut at the U.S. Open and qualified there and something obviously has clicked for you this year.
TOM LEHMAN: I think it's not just this year, I think it's the last few years. I've kind of regained the consistency that I -- that made me -- that kind of was my strength earlier in my career. I'm driving the ball well, putting the ball well, you know, the statistics are misleading. I look at the PGA TOUR statistics on my putting and was way down there but the tournaments I played, the U.S. Open and the British Open when you're hitting it 60 feet all day long at St. Andrews, skew the statistics, so I always say my putting has improved dramatically over the last few years with a lot of hard work.
And as a result I've been playing very steady, nothing is say super flashy but a lot of really good rounds.

Q. Tom, you mentioned some of your strengths. Specifically in preparation for this course what do you think is one of your greatest challenges on this course?
TOM LEHMAN: I think patience is probably the biggest issue. It's going to be hard to get the ball close at times if the greens stay this firm. I think just taking what you get, knowing what to hit off the tee is going to be a bit of a strategic challenge, whether it's a driver, 3-wood, I actually have a 1-iron that's in the bag that's been in the bag over the last few weeks in Scotland and it's going to stay in the bag this week. So I think just being patient and taking the opportunity when you get it.
When you get a chance to be aggressive, be aggressive, otherwise be happy with par. It's a U.S. Open, not unlike any other U.S. Open, pars are never bad.

Q. Tom, I saw you on a webcast at a Ben Hogan Award earlier this year at Colonial which Nick Taylor won, I'm wondering how familiar you are with him and if you've seen him play and what sort of future you think he has in store.
TOM LEHMAN: I haven't seen him play at all. I would like to see him play, I would love to be able to watch him hit a few shots, but he's obviously a very talented guy. You know, it's my opinion that anybody who can be that good as a collegiate can be that good as a pro. You take what you do well and you get better and better at it and you don't change what makes you good and just put your head down and work. If he does that I'm sure he will be a really good professional.
I hear a lot about him, I hear what a solid player he is, and it's simply trusting in your own system and method and then just playing. He does that he'll be fine.

Q. You're a golf course designer, what's the best hole out here?
TOM LEHMAN: The best hole out here? Gosh, there are so many good ones. Oh, you're putting me on the spot. That 8th hole is a tough hole, I'm not sure I would say it's the very best hole out here but it's awfully good and it's awfully difficult. You know, it's a really hard tee shot and I think it's maybe the one thing I would say about it, the shorter you play off the tee the easier it becomes off the tee but, you know, that long 2nd is no bargain and the more you want to bite off the better you have to hit it and anything that's missed right is completely dead.
To me that's an outstanding hole. You know, you can hit driver but it better be perfect. You can hit 3-wood but it better be nearly perfect. You can hit a 1-iron but it may be a bit off and you better hit it. The second shot you've got to man-up and hit it. I would say the 8th hole is maybe the best out here.

Q. We're two weeks out from the PGA and things are getting down to the wire for Corey in determining who his automatic bids are. I'm wondering if you could share how you felt going into the PGA going down the stretch and what you've told Corey up to this point, what you might have talked about in preparation as the PGA approaches?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think he has four picks so he has -- that's a nice situation to be in. I know that in thinking back to 2006, it was a tough call because there were about 10 guys who had just stalled from about May on, so there was nobody, quite frankly, who had kind of gotten to that point who was really making a big move to make the team.
There were a bunch of guys who were playing okay. So it made picking out one or two guys out very difficult for me. Corey's situation is a bit different, with four guys knowing who the other eight are you have the opportunity, I think, to really kind of get more, maybe, creative and pick the guys who you think are going to fit best.
You have a chance to look and see, what do you need? Do you need experience? Power? Do you need this or that? So those four picks will make it much easier for him.

Q. Seems like this course, more than some, rewards pure shot making and really specific placement of your shots. Are there other courses you've played that this reminds you of? Because it seems like not really a 1-off but a unique course in today's golf.
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it's very traditional in that you know, you don't want to short-side yourself ever. There is not one spot out there where you feel if you short-side yourself you have a up and down of getting it up and down if you short-side yourself you're going to have to make a 15-footer or more probably. So it's traditional in that way.
It's unique with how much some of the trees pinch the center lines. That's I think very unique to this golf course, to this area. But overall, I would give the course very high marks for, like, what I said is exactly right, for being a shot-maker. Another thing you mentioned before, patience. That means being happy with the middle of the green a lot of times. There are a lot of shots where you would be happy to put it in the middle of the green and putt because like I say you put the pins in the corner and you start missing on the wrong side and it's going to be bogey all day long. So patience with your approach to shots and being able to hit the shots you have to hit it's going to be a big deal out here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tom.

End of FastScripts

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