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February 3, 2011

Tom Lehman


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Tom Lehman into the interview room after a 6-under par 65. Tom, a cold day out there, but you made it look easy. Let's get some comments.
TOM LEHMAN: I'm not sure I made it look easy, but you know, it was chilly. I don't know what the temperature was all day long, but once you get playing, you kind of forget about it.
Somebody mentioned somebody about playing in Minnesota where I grew up. There were some days there where it was so brutally cold that -- I can tell you, one time in high school a kid broke his hand but didn't know it until the ride home because his hands were numb all day. That's cold. Today wasn't there.
The course was set up beautifully. I thought the field staff did a great job of setting the course up for the conditions or possible conditions, moved some tees up, the pins not quite totally tucked, made the course playable, and it was a good day.
JOHN BUSH: You opened up the Champions Tour season on the Big Island. Comment about your start there and also the state of your game, which is obviously in good place.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I finished 2nd, played well. It's kind of a birdie shootout at Hualalai. It's a great spot and the course is fun to play, but you had to make birdies, and I finished 20-under and finished 2nd, so obviously I made some putts, and I feel like my putting is solid.
I didn't practice at all this week. Came into the tournament this week really prepared and got the flu on Monday so I didn't play really Monday and played just a little bit on Tuesday and then yesterday obviously was a washout. So I didn't know what to expect today. But kind of got into a rhythm and played well.

Q. You had a lot of success on the Champions Tour last year. It was your first year playing out there. Did that kind of rejuvenate your game, or was there something mechanically that you started working better?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, I've been working on my putting really quite hard for a while, and I had the long putter for a few years there, then I decided to go back short, and for a couple years it really was a struggle. But I kind of stumbled upon a teaching, of all things, one of those momentous inside down-the-line putting aids that really seemed to fit my stroke, so I started using that, and just for whatever reason it kind of fits the way I go about doing it, and I've been rolling the ball better and I've made a few more putts, and when you make more putts you're not quite as anxious hitting a tee shot or an iron shot, and the whole game is just a bit freer.
Plus playing on the Champions Tour, the guys out there have a lot of fun, and it's kind of made the game -- I would say I've always had fun, but even more fun, and I've really enjoyed that.

Q. It had to be fun out there today.
TOM LEHMAN: It was. It was a good day. I got off to just a mediocre start, just a bunch of pars and then a chip-in on 5, then a save on 6 and then a birdie on 7 and then a bogey on 9 but then birdie on 10 and then a really strong finish. I really just kind of started getting into the flow of my swing. I started hitting the ball better and better and better as the day went on. So I'm happy; there's three rounds to go, but it was a good start.

Q. Did this surprise you having the flu and not playing yesterday?
TOM LEHMAN: Not really, no. I've been -- one thing I've been doing really well over the last couple years is every start I've playing well. I've just playing consistently well, not always great, but rarely poorly. You know, every time I tee it up I feel like I'm capable of shooting a good score, and of course you're playing on the PGA TOUR, the best players, so it's nice to shoot a good round against these guys.

Q. So if you hadn't gotten the flu what would your preparation have been like this week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday?
TOM LEHMAN: I would have hit a lot more balls and would have hit a lot more putts, and I really didn't do much of anything. Really the only thing I do when I get into a rhythm is try to keep a feel for the club head. I don't need to play a lot of holes, don't need to spend hours and hours, but I do like to do it long enough where I really feel what I'm doing. You lose that, but I'm 51, it kind of comes back.
JOHN BUSH: Any other birdies stand out today?
TOM LEHMAN: Any stand out? I think maybe the biggest putt of the day was the 10th. I birdied No. 10 after bogeying No. 9. Any time you make a bogey and come right back and make a birdie, it tends to get the round picked up again. And then I think birdieing 12 was also a big birdie. It's a tough par-3, the tees were up, but it's still a good par-3 and it was a good birdie. And then the closing holes, you can take advantage of them. We didn't quite catch the full brunt of the gladiatorial crowd on No. 16 today, but they were there still, and I made a birdie there, and it was a nice 2.
It was just kind of easy. I made a lot of short putts for birdies the back nine.

Q. With the four-hour delay today and tomorrow is obviously going to be a long day for a lot of people --
TOM LEHMAN: For somebody.

Q. How difficult is the rest of this week going to be because of where you guys started today?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it's going to be unique. If there's any kind of a delay tomorrow, I would have to bet that we're not going to play tomorrow. I just don't see how it could possibly happen. You know, you never know, but the odds are against us so it's kind of strange to have a big gap in the middle of a tournament like that. So you have to kind of find a way to stay in the rhythm of the tournament I suppose, maybe come back down for a few hours and practice, maybe go play nine holes somewhere else. But it's unique. But of course this weather is unique. This is really unheard of to be clear and this cold for two straight days like this.

Q. Have you thought about what you're going to do? Do you have a plan yet or have you had time to think about it?
TOM LEHMAN: I think the worst thing that could happen really would be to have to play one hole tomorrow night. That would be -- I'm not saying that I don't want to. I really don't care one way or the other, but it would make -- I think it would be better preparation for the next day to kind of have the day to do exactly -- kind of get yourself ready rather than be waiting all day long, am I going to play or not play, am I going to play or not play. Get up in the morning, if there's a two-hour frost delay, it's like, we're not playing.
JOHN BUSH: Tom, great start. Play well the rest of the week.

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