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August 11, 2010

Tom Lehman


KELLY ELBIN: 2010 Senior PGA Champion, Tom Lehman, joining us at 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Tom earned his way to Whistling Straits by defeating Fred Couples and David Frost in a playoff at Colorado Golf Club on way to win his first Senior PGA Championship.
Tom, this is your 17th time at the PGA Championship. Welcome back, and maybe just some general comments about representing the senior crowd, if you will, at the PGA Championship.
TOM LEHMAN: The old guys. Well, it's great to be here. I felt maybe last year would have been my final PGA, but to have won the Senior PGA Championship and be exempt to play here again is an exciting thing for me.
It feels good to be back with this group of players. I enjoy the Champions Tour a great deal. I enjoy playing out here a great deal, and it's always nice to come back and play with the young guys.
KELLY ELBIN: You didn't play here in 2004. Just any particular reason?
TOM LEHMAN: I was trying to think of one and I don't recall why I wasn't here. I think I would have been eligible in 2004; so I must have been injured. I can't remember exactly why I didn't tee it up.

Q. You said that you weren't here in 2004; is this your first time seeing the Straits Course?
TOM LEHMAN: It is, yeah.

Q. What are your impressions of it?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it's quite a feat of construction. From what I heard was pretty much just flat farmland, like a parking lot across the street to this, I mean, it's quite a vision that they had.
I mean, all of Kohler seems to be an amazing vision, to me. But this golf course is otherworldly almost. It's very challenging. I find, I can't imagine the average guy enjoys playing here, it's so difficult. But it's difficult in and it's great.
So it's that combination of difficulty and it's fair if you hit it straight, but you better not hit it crooked.

Q. Your win at the Senior PGA Championship, that certainly is special, but now in retrospect going down the stretch, with Fred Couples and David Frost, just winning last week by, I believe, something like seven shots, does that make the win taste better even?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think to win any major is nice. To win a playoff feels good. I've lost a few playoffs, so it was nice to win one. And when you beat guys you know are some of the top players, that makes it even better.
But it was a unique playoff; if you remember, they both made double on the first playoff hole, and then it was a little bit surreal. But, yeah, it does feel good. Any time you beat the best players, you have to feel good.

Q. First of all congratulations on your senior win, fantastic job. Do you get a little torn, though, sometimes wondering, should I go and play the Champions Tour events, or should I go ahead and play some of the PGA events? Because you're still competitive; look how you played at the British.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, you know, I am still competitive. I still work pretty hard on my game. It's a tough call sometimes. To me it's not always easy. It still isn't easy. There's still a lot of gray in there for me as to what exactly I should do and what direction I should go, because there's so many positive things about both the Champions Tour and the PGA TOUR.
And so I kind of feel like the way I'm going about it is fun. I'm playing seven or eight or nine PGA TOUR events and 15 Champions Tour events, and then all the ones that I play are ones that I consider to be the best ones, and so my schedule is fantastic.
What you do give up a little bit is maybe the year-end: Where do I finish on the points list; can I compete in the FedExCup; that kind of thing. You kind of give up on some of that. If you're not committed to one tour fully, you lose all the benefits that go along with playing well, but I know that I enjoy each week that I play.
KELLY ELBIN: You tied for 14th at The Open Championship. Did you have any expectations going into St. Andrews or any particular goals?
TOM LEHMAN: I expected to play well. I felt like I did play well. I feel like I finished 14th without really making a whole lot of putts. I think the last two or three or four weeks has been strange for me where I've rolled the ball incredibly well and have not made anywhere near my share of putts; whereas earlier in the year, I feel like I didn't roll it quite as well, but I made a lot more putts, so who can figure.
But I think there's courses that do not benefit anybody at any particular age and typically I think the links courses are probably more that way than most. I think the links courses which don't put the premium on distance, they put more of the premium on the line that you can hit consistently and keeping your ball in play and keeping it out of trouble; experience become as huge factor.
So I felt like getting back to The Open championship, that I had a really good chance to play well there.

Q. By all accounts A to Z when you were Ryder Cup Captain you did everything right. Any advice for Corey Pavin? His is coming up pretty quick.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, it is. I think he'll do a really good job, I think he's done a very good job already. Corey is a very, very straightforward guy, and he chooses his words very carefully and gets right to the heart of the matter.
And I think his directness will work very well with his being a captain, and I think that he being the competitor that he is and the tough, tough character that he is; that kind of character will translate well with the team.
I think our team needs to be especially over there, needs to be way more aggressive than we have been in the past. I think we need to shoot at the pins more often and not worry about making mistakes, because you really kind of go for broke and that's the way Corey plays golf and I think that's the way the team will play.
KELLY ELBIN: You've seen in the last two major champions rather young guys in McDowell and Oosthuizen, is that perhaps signalling a shift towards younger players taking over the winning of big events?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, there's a lot of really talented players around. And I think you look at someone like Graeme McDowell, Graeme is a bit more old-fashioned type of player. He hits it long enough; he's not super long, but he hits it long enough, and he hits it very straight and he's just a tough competitor.
Oosthuizen may be more the modern style. I mean, he hits it forever. He hits it very long, but he's got a beautiful swing with very little wasted motion, very little effort. And his performance I thought at the Old Course was just unbelievable. The way he approached it and the way he played and how calm he was and how relaxed and how he just blew the field away, I mean, that was an amazing performance.
So you always debate this young guys/old guys, middle-aged guys. There are trends, and everything seems to kind of go in cycles. And two years from now you could have majors won by all guys in their 40s and you'll be saying, like, where are the young guys. So it's, that's the way it works.
KELLY ELBIN: Tom Lehman, thank you very much.
TOM LEHMAN: All right. Thank you.

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