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October 22, 2004

Tom Lehman


NELSON SILVERIO: Welcome, Tom Lehman. Thank you for coming in, two straight 66s, just your mindset going into Saturday with potentially just one shot back.

TOM LEHMAN: What's the mindset? Well, I think the mindset is this tournament is like a sprint. That's the way I look at it. You have all these guys lined up and they're sprinting, who can make the most birdies. Some tournaments are like a marathon where you've got to pace yourself and have patience. This one is more like the 400 meters maybe. You've got to put the pedal to the metal and go as hard as you can for four days and make as many birdies as you can. A lot of guys up close, a lot of guys near the lead, a lot of guys low, and there's going to be some low scores.

Q. I pulled up your schedule here. You've made the cut every single time, ten times here.


Q. According to their records. Yet you've somehow managed to only win $190,000, so it's like you hung around just long enough to go to the theme parks and spend every cent you've made.

TOM LEHMAN: That's true. I'm probably in the hole for this week over the course of ten years (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM LEHMAN: The difference? Well, there was more wind today, which made it a little trickier. I had a lot of cross-wind shots where it was hard to tell whether the wind was slightly helping or slightly hurting. I felt it was more difficult to get the right distance as a result, but I hit a lot of solid shots. It was hard to get it in there maybe ten feet or eight feet as opposed to 20 feet, so I didn't get it quite as close quite as often, but I still played extremely well and made some nice putts.

Q. Bob Tway won a couple years ago and he got into a span where he hadn't won. Is there like a Statute of Limitations on remembering how to get it done on Sunday and delivering a win? Is that something that never goes away, you always remember, or do you become kind of a born-again virgin, for lack of a better way to put it?

TOM LEHMAN: That's a nice thought, isn't it? I think the competitive nature that most of the guys have, where you kind of get yourself -- you remember what it's like. It's mostly a matter of getting comfortable with it. The more often you're there, the more comfortable, the better you perform.

The Tour has changed. I have gone the last couple tournaments with the lead and have shot 3-under and 2-under and haven't won either of them. There was a time if you had a one-shot lead and shot 69 you're going to win 95 percent of the time. Nowadays there's too many good players, so the mindset has actually changed somewhat. I think on Sunday you can't just go out there and say I'm going to keep from making mistakes. You've got to play offense. You've got to go low.

Of course this week it's the same way, especially this week. If you're near the lead on Sunday and don't shoot 66 or better, you have no chance of winning.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM LEHMAN: I think the turning point in my career came on the Hogan Tour where we played a lot of courses that were similar to this, low scores were shot all the time, and if you didn't putt well, you didn't have a chance. I had a great year in 91 and was the leading money winner and won three times and had three 2nd and 13 Top 8s or whatever it was, so I obviously could putt. I would say that's not totally accurate. I think courses like this have always fit my game if it was one of those weeks that I was putting well, and if I was putting well, I could putt as well as anybody. I just didn't do that frequently enough.

Good putting is what wins tournaments. You can't ever hit it good enough I don't think to be able to win unless you're making your share of putts. That's just the way it is.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM LEHMAN: That's one of the reasons why I kept on going back and forth. The short putter is what I grew up with and what everybody has played with since the beginning of golf, and here I am with a long putter. I feel like I want to still putt with a short putter. It looks better, it's more traditional, that whole thing, and I would just fight it, and the bottom line is I didn't ever, ever seem to have the success in recent years that I was hoping to get, and it was getting worse, so I'd rather cave into City Hall and keep that long putter in the bag.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM LEHMAN: I would say disappointed quite frankly. I was playing well in Vegas and I played well in Greensboro and I played well both tournaments on Sunday, and I came away with it short. Too many mistakes in Vegas, a little bit unlucky in Greensboro, but you can't take it away from the guys who won. I played with both winners, and they both played flawless rounds, no bogeys, 66, 67, and got the job done.

I was disappointed to not win, no question about it.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM LEHMAN: In Vegas I shot 69 with four bogeys, so I played really well but made a couple really stupid mistakes, very poorly timed, missed a four-footer on 17.

Last week was just basically I was unlucky, very unlucky that I didn't shoot 68 or better. As a golfer there's little things that happen. I'll give you an example, the 15th hole is a par 5 and there's a bunker just short of the green. Putting it in the front bunker was a piece-of-cake bunker shot; you flop it up on top of the green, and if you don't hit it inside of four feet you've hit a terrible shoot.

I hit a 3-wood that skipped up past the bunker and came to rest in between the green and the bunker, and it's real steep, and it always comes back down because the bunkers are so steep, and it got caught up in a clump of grass, and I had a side-hill lie and I was choking down to the steel, swinging quite a bit harder than you think you have to because you know it's going to come out fluffy, and I ended up getting it on the fringe and then two-putted.

Well, the average golfer who doesn't really know much about the game would say, oh, what a bad chip shot, you made a par. As a golfer, you say, you know what, there's such a fine line between an easy shot and a tough shot, and if it comes down in the bunker it's an easy shot. If it stays up in the bank it's an impossible shot almost. Those are the things I'm talking about, things that happen in a round of golf. That's why I say at times you get unlucky. Just like when you're winning, that ball comes down in the bunker and you splash it out there and you either make it or leave it on the edge or you make a birdie or better either way.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM LEHMAN: What do you want to know? All the details?

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it wasn't hard to do because I had had my knee really starting to bother me again, so after The International I took some time off and didn't touch a club, didn't swing, was just rehabbing my knee trying to get my leg stronger to support the knee, so therefore I wasn't even thinking about practicing. So the Italy trip was right in the middle of that so it came at a good time.

It's infrequent I'll go to a tournament not having touched a club in three and a half weeks like I did at Canada. There's a lot to be said, like I said the other day, for what a great attitude can do for you. I went to the Canadian Open very relaxed, had a great trip with my wife. Life was good. I struggled the first day but played great the last three almost entirely because of the fact that there's a whole -- the positive feelings you have about what's going on around you. It has a huge impact on how you perform.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM LEHMAN: You know, we rented a little villa out in the middle of some vineyard in Tuscany with some friends and took day trips to Florence and Siena and little villages around, spent a couple days in Rome. Rome to me was like walking on a movie set. Every corner you turned, it was like "wow, look at that. This is like 3,000 years old." Then there's The Coliseum and The Forum, and next to all the ruins you have Gucci and Ferragamo and Versace. I was just amazed at all the little plazas with cafes.

To me there's no better way to get away from all the worries of the world and try and enjoy something like that. To me it was one of the greatest places I've ever been.


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