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June 30, 2011

Tom Lehman


TOM LEHMAN: Happy to be back. Sure enjoyed the tournament last year, had a great time up here, I love the golf course, I thought the crowds were fantastic and the tournament was very, very well run. So really excited to be back again this year. Hopefully my play will improve from last year, though I did play pretty well last year, I felt like I left quite a bit on the table so looking forward to starting again tomorrow.
The scores were pretty low last year, 17-under might have run. There was a lot of guys who played well. You needed to make a lot of putts. But the course gives you some room off the tee, not a huge amount, but sufficient room and so you have to drive it reasonably well. Putting will be the key. The guy who putts very well, and plays consistent from tee-to-green will do very well.

Q. What's the key, in a three-day tournament --
TOM LEHMAN: Well you need to start well. You need to get off to a good start for round one. It's not impossible to win with a mediocre first round but it makes it more difficult. But I think the first day is just a crucial day, because if you put too much pressure on yourself to have to shoot a low score -- it's a 54-hole event, think about it that way, don't worry too much about starting slow but just try to find that rhythm and get things going forward.
So to me that means just trying to get off to a good start. If you shoot 73 or 74 on the first day you're in big trouble, you can't afford to do that.

Q. (How are you feeling coming into the tournament)?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I'm confident, and know that there's a lot of very good players out here who have proved themselves over the last 30 years with great chances. I think golf, like any other sport, is a game of momentum. You get the momentum going your way and you carry it through and it may last two months or it may last five months or it may last an entire year but the idea is to keep the momentum going.
I've had good momentum throughout the year. My game is good but there are a lot of other players who are playing very well, so it should be a very competitive tournament. But I have high expectations obviously.

Q. Nick Price and Tom Watson aren't here. They are second and third in the Charles Schwab Cup race. Does that give you a chance to build your lead?
TOM LEHMAN: I don't look at it that way, I just tend to focus on this tournament and what I can do. The fact that they are not here -- during the course of the year it balances out. I play some events that they don't and they play some events that I don't so typically I don't worry about it. I just try to got a good game plan for this week and do the best I can this week, and then I'll take what I get.

Q. What's your schedule, will you play more on the regular tour?
TOM LEHMAN: You know I'm playing the British Open and then after, that I really don't know. I don't know if I will play anymore. Possibly, possibly in the fall. I may get into a couple of events, if the situation is such that I can get away from here for a week or two and play, but not really planning on it.

Q. (Did you ever do any major changes on your swing; it seems to have stayed the same?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I'm really stubborn. I think more than anything, to me I always feel like my swing worked. And even though it may not be a vision of grace and beauty, the stylish, traditional-looking golf swing to, me it's all been very functional and very repetitive, so I've never tinkered with it. In fact, I've been working on the exact same thing in my golf swing for the last 30 years much it has not changed at all, what I work on.
So I tell you what happens is that players, they see the weaknesses in their game, and they want to improve their weaknesses. They want to get better and see what it is they do that they are not doing as well as they could and they try to work to improve that. Sometimes what happens is it takes away your strength.
So one of my foundational, core beliefs in golf is don't ever do anything to take away your strengths. Make your strength stronger. Find a way to work on your weaknesses but never take away your strengths.
So Mike Weir, for example, he had a couple of things happen. He had injuries. Injuries play a factor, which force almost a change in the way you swing without trying. You compensate for injuries. You start hitting it poorly and then you start looking for ways to improve and then you kind of go to a different feature and you do something different than you've been doing and pretty soon you're lost. So then you've got to try to go back and find what it was that you did at the beginning and that's where the difficulty comes.
So I tend to be very, very, very wary of any swing changes that I know are going to have a potentially negative impact on my swing.

Q. Are you a better player now than you were five or 10 years ago?
TOM LEHMAN: Probably five years ago, yes. Ten years ago, I'm not certain. I think my swing, or the way I've been playing, the way I've been hitting the ball, I've been probably as consistent as I have been in a long, long time over the last three or four years. I think my putting is better than it was five years ago, so that's why I would say I'm a better player today.
I also think my attitude is better. Attitude is everything, I think more willing to accept results and not worry so much about what the results are, just more tuned in and focussed on the process and working hard to be as good as I can be and letting the results take care of themselves. I think I'm better at that as well.

Q. (Is there a difference in quality of the players now, with the Europeans at the top of the World Rankings).
TOM LEHMAN: Not really, the last Ryder Cup was very close, it came down right to the wire. So it was very -- it could have gone either way. So I don't really see a huge difference in the quality of top players. I think the World Rankings are played, that's my personal opinion. Not to say that the top European players shouldn't be up there. Just that the rankings tend to take into account the top players but not the depth of the field.
I do believe that the field in U.S. Tour events are deeper than European Tour events from top to bottom but they get the same amount of points so it tends to perpetuate them getting more points to their top players which puts them on top of the rankings.
So I really don't know that the rankings are 100 per cent foolproof. In fact I know they are not. But what I do know is this; I do know that Lee Westwood is a hell of a player, and so is Rory Sabbatini, and -- Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald. Sabbatini is pretty good, too, by the way. (Laughter).
But you get my point. But you can't argue the fact that those guys are really good. But you can't argue that guys like Dustin Johnson and Mickelson and Stricker and Rickie Fowler and some of the younger guys are not really good, as well, Zach Johnson. The rankings are very difficult. But to come up with a system that is truly equitable and fair is almost impossible.

Q. Does the location of this event make it unique?.
TOM LEHMAN: I think it does. I think it adds an element of -- it is unique. That's the wrong word. It adds an element of prestige almost in a way. To me it has a feeling a little bit of Europe, so even though we are in Canada, you know you are not in Toronto. You go to Toronto, you feel like you could be maybe in Chicago. But here, there's no question that you're somewhere outside of the United States, so that gives it a feeling of -- an added element and I like it. I think all of the players like it. There's a different culture here.
The people are extremely friendly, appreciative. Much like in Endicott, New York, last week, for example, just a feeling of, thank you for being here is really pervasive. I if I the fact that you can't read the street signs and you can't read the menus and stuff like that all adds an element of charm to this tournament.

Q. Are you staying in town?
TOM LEHMAN: No, I'm staying near the golf course. I like to be close.

Q. In a house?
TOM LEHMAN: In a house, yeah. Yeah, July 1 should be a big day. Does that mean we take the day off and sit at the range and drink beer? (Laughter).
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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