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October 16, 2004

Tom Lehman


CHRIS REIMER: Welcome Tom Lehman, to the media center at 12-under par. Two top-10s in your last event and you're on are way to another one here. What do you have going right.

TOM LEHMAN: I got a lot of things going right, actually. I've got, I think, most importantly I think I got my attitude really good. It's been a difficult year in a lot of ways with injury more than anything. I had a knee problem that's been hampering me the whole season. I had knee surgery in April. I had to take another month or so off after the International because it was still hurting. At the Canadian Open I had my orthotics adjusted which I wear for my feet and the guy said he fixed my knee pain by adjusting my orthotic, so I did this and my knee has been a million times better since then and some attitude is good. I'm swinging without pain. I switched to the new R 7 driver, the TaylorMade and that's made a big difference in my driving. I'm hitting it straighter. Putting it in play more off often. I switched to the long putter, I'm making more putts, and probably the biggest thing about that is I'm making more saves. I had gotten to the point with the short putter where no matter how good a chip shot I hit I was missing the putt to make a bogey. And I'm making those putts now and I made three bogeys in three days, which is pretty good around here with the wind blowing. And really it's a, I think it's mostly because my short game is better.

CHRIS REIMER: Take some questions.

Q. You spent a lot of time out there signing autographs after you got done. Obviously haven't won in a while, do you still feel the fans will are behind you as much as they were?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, they were great out there. People always seem to support me. I think they kind of pull hard for me. Which is really nice. It's not the big mob scene like you get with some of the other guys, but I have my core demographic fan, which I appreciate very much.

Q. What's the demographic fan of Tom Lehman?

TOM LEHMAN: Oh, you know, there's a couple, there's some young kids, but it's more the guy my age kind. I'm not sure what you would call it. But just somebody who loves golf and works hard. Wants to see me do well.

Q. Which knee.

TOM LEHMAN: Left knee. It really was, it had got to the point which is why I had surgery is that every time I hit a shot I would flinch and come out of it because I couldn't drive on my left side. And anybody who knows me as a golfer knows that my legs are the most important part of my swing. If my legs aren't driving I'm not strong in my legs, I don't play well. I don't hit it well. So to take my leg action out of my swing, that's basically to put me in handcuffs. So I'm able to do that again now. I found ways to get to my left side, drive through it real hard and without much pain.

Q. And when did you switch to the long putter?

TOM LEHMAN: I've gone back and forth over the last few years. But I eventually played the first round of the Canadian Open with the short putter shot 3 over and then put the long putter in the bag and then shot 70, 70, 64, to finish fourth. And then went to the Texas, long putter, you know, played well there. Last week, long putter, finished second. So it's, I it's a funny thing the long putter, I do some things better, some things worse. I make more 10 and 12 foot putts, 8 foot putts with the long putter, I make, I miss more short ones. I'm better with the left to righters worse with the right to lefters. I used to be just the opposite with the short putter. So it's a whole different learning experience with me with the long putter.

Q. Is it harder to win the longer time goes by since 2000? I mean do you still know how to win? Do you feel like you do?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I think I do. Last week I had a chance and I shot 69 on Sunday, which is out there, decent score, wasn't great. Made four bogeys though. Really that's what cost me. So I think my attitude last week as well as this week is that I have got everything to gain and nothing to lose. The expectation level on me, I think, is probably more hope for me than expectations, so I'm free. I feel like I have a free run at it. That's the way I intend to play.

Q. With your stats of hitting greens obviously your putting stats get kind of skewed, because you hit a lot more greens, but I mean do you feel like you were one of the worst putters out here? Because you're always in the top-5 in greens in regulation. How did you kind of rate yourself?

TOM LEHMAN: I'll rate myself up there. Until about 2000, I considered myself to be a very good putter. I did some things extremely well. I was -- I wouldn't say a great lag putter, but I was a great short putter. I mean, inside of six feet it was almost automatic.

For sure at five feet there was, I could go for weeks and weeks and weeks without missing a putt inside of five feet. That was the strength of my putting. I could hit a lot of greens and very often you're 30, 40, 50 feet and I could lag it up there somewhere close and knock it in. So I never lost shots on the greens. Then when I kind of got hot with putting and started making those 15 to 20 footers then I would either win or finish second or third or something. So I considered myself to be a very good putter for a long time.

But something happened along the way. Maybe it's turning 40. I don't know what. But I started missing a few putts the short ones and I was convinced that I had to change my stroke because my stroke is, was not going to hold up for me and I tried to do a few different things to my stroke and you see it happen on guys with their long game. They want to improve their driving or their iron play and they think they got to change their swing and before you know it they have lost their game. And that is what happened with my putting. I tried to improve my putting by changing my method and I completely lost my putting stroke. So therefore the long putter.

Q. Specifically on today's round, other than obviously the putt you missed on 18, did you get --

TOM LEHMAN: I hit a good putt there. I was really happy with the way that putt went. I hit a whole bunch of putts that I felt really good about. The only putt that I didn't like all day was the eagle putt on 13. I made a bad putt. But I hit a lot of really good putts right on the line of what I was looking at. I'll give you an example, 14th hole par-4. Jason Dufner was on the exact same line as me. His putt went left all the way across the hole, he missed left. My putt was tracking right inside, got inside the hole and missed on the right edge.

The par-5, it was tracking right in the middle, hit a spike mark and bounced out. So I hit a lot of great putts today that didn't go in the hole. I feel really good about the way I stroked the ball.

Q. After '96 and winning twice and winning a Major it took four years before you won again, at Phoenix. And now you're on that four year train again.


Q. Can you talk about the frustration/maturation process of having to deal with not winning out here.

TOM LEHMAN: I think the biggest thing is wondering if you can win. And I won in '97 a Scottish Open so I actually consider that a victory, even though the Americans don't. So I feel like I was on a three year cycle, I'm one year over due. But, no, the idea of winning is you have to prove to yourself that you can win. To me just getting in the hunt last week, actually I take that back, shooting 64 at the Canadian Open and actually having a few other chances which I didn't quite capitalize on, proved to me that I had the game to win still. Last week obviously reinforced that. Playing well this week. But thinking about it, believing it and doing it are two different things.

Q. Does the fact that you went through that I guess maybe stepping stone process from the Canadian to here, does that help you more going into tomorrow than if just all of a sudden it just happened and you were in the same position tomorrow?

TOM LEHMAN: You know, I think more than anything I feel like my career has had a lot of near misses. And I'm really sick and tired of finishing second. I'll leave it at that.

Q. Tomorrow it will be pretty jumbled up, I mean it will be pretty stacked. What do you, what's the attitude going into tomorrow?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it's going to take, you know, if the weather report that I saw is accurate, which means the wind is going to be dropping, so it's going to be a pretty nice day, I expect there to be some really low scores. I'm sure that with all the guys near the top -- it's not just the guys that 12, 11, 10, there's a bunch of guys at 8, 7, those guys could shoot 63 or 64. So I think there will be some way low scores tomorrow and it's going to take somebody at the top to realize that you got to go low and just go out there and do it.

Q. Were you happy with the way you handled yourself last week with the nerves back from being in contention the last group?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I felt pretty good. I hit a lot of pretty good shots. I missed one big putt. I missed a big putt on 17 last week, about a four-footer. But I made a nice putt on the hole before and a nice putt on 18. So I made a few. I missed one that I had to make. I think overall it was just a couple things that I did wrong and short sided myself a couple times and made bogey. And can't really afford to do that.

Q. There's been a lot of low scores today despite the wind, is that because the greens are fairly soft?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it's because this direction wind is probably the easiest direction for a big wind on this golf course. The par-5s are all reachable. Some easily reachable. I feel like the more difficult holes are playing with the wind. And the easier holes are against the wind, but they're easy, so it doesn't really make much difference. So I think the course plays somewhat more simple with this direction. If it were blowing the other direction, a northeast wind it would be a different story. Par-5s unreachable, the 14th hole, driver, 3-iron would be a big difference.

Q. When did the knee start bothering you first?

TOM LEHMAN: The third round of the Phoenix Open. Just started to ache. Started to ache some more. And started to ache some more. And then at the Players Championship before the first round I was warming up and I took a swing and nearly went to my knees. I mean, it just, I literally had just a sharp shooting pain up my leg. It was there for the rest of the two days I played. I missed the cut of the shot like 74, 73 or something. Missed the cut, went home and had surgery.

Q. Torn cartilage?

TOM LEHMAN: The biggest thing is, is there's a tendon that's really in bad shape there. And there's a few things they did in there, the cartilage and this and that and the other thing and, but the tendon is what the real problem is. And I think like I said, these orthotics seem to take some pressure off the way I move. And I do it a little differently so the tendon doesn't quite get quite as tweaked.

Q. Do you know Brent real well?

TOM LEHMAN: Fairly well, yeah. Super guy. Got a beautiful golf swing. I like playing with him. I like playing with him, his swing is so pretty. It's real fluid and relaxed. And he hits a real nice, great trajectory. He's got a great trajectory for wind. He hits a real driving shot, hits it low. He's a nice player. And a super guy.

CHRIS REIMER: More questions for Tom?

End of FastScripts.

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