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January 28, 2004

Tom Lehman


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tom, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center. Why don't you just make a couple comments. I hear that you were the Grand Marshall for the Fiesta Bowl Parade.

TOM LEHMAN: We had a great time. It was exceptional. The whole family was able to get involved judging the floats and riding in the parade. The coin toss for the food ballgame, it was really fun. We had a great time.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Back here, close to home for the week of the FBR Open. Why don't you make a couple comments on that.

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it's nice to be able to stay in your routine. I think that's probably one of the reasons why a lot of guys play well at home, because they kind of stay in their normal routine. Obviously in their own bed at night, go home for dinner. With me, life goes on, kids with school and hockey practice, and tomorrow I play at 9:00 o'clock or 8:50, and my son has hockey at 4:00 and the girls have tutoring until 6:00, so it'll be very much a day-as-usual, with the exception of playing a tournament.

Q. Came to the desert to teach them hockey, huh?

TOM LEHMAN: Can you imagine that? It's hard to get ice time. There's only one rink in this part of town, and it's packed.

Q. Would you talk a little bit about where your game is at right now? How do you feel about the way things are going?

TOM LEHMAN: I'm extremely excited about any game. I've been doing a lot of work since the end of October to work on my game, to get in better shape, to be more prepared mentally, and so I really feel like somewhere along the way soon I'm going to really play well. Maybe it's this week, maybe it's next, the week after, but at some point in time it's going to happen, and I'm very enthusiastic and excited about it.

Q. What kind of things do you do to prepare better?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, working on my putting. I feel like I'm on the right track with my putting, which is allowing me to step over a putt with a lot more confidence, and that's really half the battle, if at least you think you're going to make the putt. I've dedicated to a fitness program, and I'm working on my wedge game and all the weak areas. More than that is the expectation of playing well, getting hot and the expectation of winning, keeping that in the front of my mind so that when I do have a chance I'm not surprised.

Q. You're at an age that used to be considered old and isn't anymore.

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it's still old.

Q. We see it all the time. I mean, everybody is competitive now, or some guys are competitive.

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, there are. There's a lot of reasons why, but I think there's just a lot more incentive for players to keep on working. You know, you can have a great life well into your 50s and 60s, as long as you keep working on your game, your body, your fitness, staying committed to it. I think commitment is really the biggest issue, staying 100 percent committed.

Q. Is your fitness program just general fitness or is it more a specific fitness?

TOM LEHMAN: I would say it's more golf specific, but I think anybody who did it would get benefit from it. It's a real high energy, fast 50 minutes nonstop of different things, so you get a lot of benefit from your heart being 140 or 150 beats a minute for an hour straight while you're lifting weights doing core exercises, what it might be, so it's a good program. I've lost 15 pounds probably since October without changing my diet hugely. I'm not on the Atkins Diet or South Beach, or whatever you want to call it, but I definitely have increased my metabolism.

Q. Do you work with anybody out here?

TOM LEHMAN: I got this program from a guy at Athletes Performance, and I'm just doing what he gave me a couple years ago.

Q. Talk a little bit about the changes to the course. What do you think of the changes?

TOM LEHMAN: I'm a firm believer that just adding length doesn't necessarily make it better, and I think there's a couple of new tees out here that have made it worse and there's a couple of changes that made it better. I think the best change, in my opinion, is the 18th hole, simply by the fact that lengthening the left bunker and creating a new right bunker you've made it narrow for everybody.

Some of the holes out there, 14, for example, you've got to hit it 280 to carry the little grassy pot low area on the left side. And really in effect what's happened is if you're not a hugely long hitter and can't carry it 280, your fairway is 20 yards wide. If you can carry it 280, it's 40 yards wide. I'm completely dead-set against that. It only benefits the guys that can hit it a long ways. If you can hit it longer and more cooked, that's not right. That's why I say some changes are good, some are bad.

Q. How much will the changes affect how you play this course, if at all?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, the changes -- the new tee on 6 is definitely a big difference. It puts those bunkers right in the middle of play for probably nearly everyone. The 15th hole I don't see being hugely different. I mean, it may be some, but if it gets a little faster out there and it warms up and the ball goes further, you're still going to be hitting irons to the 15th green. So it may add half a shot or a shot possibly. You just never really know until you play. If the wind switches to the east it's going to make a huge difference because all those holes are into the wind and then it'll play a lot harder.

Q. On the subject of course changes, there has been a lot of talk about how technology is affecting the game and causing courses to have to change the way they're designed. As both a Tour player and a designer, what do you feel the impact of technology is on the game? Is it doing something bad to the game?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think it is doing something bad if you have no room to expand. But what I mentioned before, simply adding length isn't always the answer. The idea needs to be to bring hazard into play for everyone. And kind of what I've seen is the guys have the ability to drive it over the hazards on some of the courses that are more landlocked, so they play a lot shorter and the trouble is not there.

It's maybe a matter of moving a few bunkers, creating hazards that are out there at 320 or 340 or whatever it might be, so simply adding length isn't always the right thing. My biggest pet peeve, as both a player and a designer, is a fairway that's narrower for the short hitter than it is for the long hitter, so if you're able to hit it 300, the fairway opens up to 60 yards wide versus 35 for the back there at 270. I feel like in the effort to make some of the courses more up to speed you kind of get that a lot.

Q. What do you think has influenced distance more, the clubs, the balls or the physical fitness of the players?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it's probably -- it's the whole combination of ball, shaft, club, club head. You really can't put your finger on one exact thing, but if I had to play the majority of a distance increase to any one thing, it would be the ball. It's a combination of everything.

Players have always been -- there's always been guys who have been in good shape and the guys that generate a lot of club head speed, so just because guys are in better shape nowadays doesn't mean they can swing faster than guys 40 years ago. I think Jack's club head speed was pretty high and a lot of those guys could swing with a lot of speed, but things have changed so much. That's the deal.

I think Jack all along hit the same ball, and I think at the end of the day, he's right on target.

Q. What's your distance now compared to five years ago? Longer, shorter?

TOM LEHMAN: I'm longer. I think I'm -- last year 286 was my average, and I've always been 272, so I've picked up 15 yards probably, 20 yards. I think the stats are misleading sometimes. I really feel that I'm definitely hitting it 20 yards past where I was, say, in 92 when I first came back here.

Q. Can you talk about the kind of approach or the kind of player who does well here at the TPC?

TOM LEHMAN: Somebody who hits it a long ways and putts well. Those are the two things. I think you look down the list of champions and it's always somebody with a lot of length and somebody who has a great week putting.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you for joining us. Appreciate your time.

End of FastScripts.

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