April 13, 2001
HILTON HEAD, SOUTH CAROLINA
LEE PATTERSON: Excellent position here at half time. Maybe just a couple of thoughts about that, then we will open it up to questions.
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I guess I played very well the last 12 holes of the day. Up until that point I really kind of struggled, missing greens, hitting poor shots and then you know, from about the 17th hole onward I played really well. The course was in great shape once again. I thought it was there for the taking. The breeze kicked up, made it a little bit more difficult. Still I thought it was a good day for scoring.
Q. Can you talk about going from the struggling to finding the zone? 6 strokes in seven holes you were on it, you had a chance at No. 7 as well.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, well, sometimes it just takes one shot or one putt and I really was fighting my swing a little bit and didn't feel comfortable, and hit a terrible 9-iron to the 16th green. I hit it long left over the green and hit a very mediocre chip, then made about a 10-footer for par. That one 10-foot putt, it was like making a birdie in a way. It kind of -- just kind of got me going. Hit a nice shot on the next hole; then birdied 18. I was off and running. Plus I hit it close a couple of times which always is nice to have a couple of, you know, no-brainers, little tap-in birdies or eagles.
Q. Talk about the eagle.
TOM LEHMAN: I hit a really nice tee shot, cut driver out there, hit a 4-iron just exactly the way I wanted to, high draw right into the wind. Slightly hit it right from the front part of the green, released up, just past the hole about 12 inches away. It was a nice -- those are, to me, those are the real momentum builders. You don't have to think about making a putt. You walk up, tap-in, away you go.
Q. Talk about Sunday, and I know it happens every time. You are down in this part of the country, Easter Sunday, what are your plans for this year?
TOM LEHMAN: There is a service on the 18th green which I am planning on going to. I think Bernhard Langer is speaking as well as some guy that I don't know --Tom somebody or other. Tom Randall, I think his name is -- I plan on going there and enjoying Easter. Today was Good Friday. I thought it was, to me a very enjoyable day on the golf course out there with a great friend who is caddying for me. Playing with one of my best friends, Loren Roberts, another really nice guy John Huston, playing on Good Friday was a very peaceful day.
Q. It never really bothered you, in fact, you usually play on Easter.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, it doesn't -- I mean, I would like to be able to be home, that would be, I guess, best, but playing on Easter is not something that bothers me.
Q. Along that line, it seems -- I was talking with a colleague of mine, it seems the crowds are very nice, seems to be a different spin somehow, as far as emotions, and people are just acting very nice these first couple of days.
TOM LEHMAN: Very civil?
TOM LEHMAN: Probably because you can only buy booze in those little tiny bottles like that. (Laughs) No, the fans here are always fantastic, I think. I am sure the party will begin this weekend. It will probably be a very crazy time down at the marina, but on the golf course they have been great.
Q. You had the good finish last year. Playing well this year. What about this course? Does it really fit your game well?
TOM LEHMAN: It looks good to me. There are some holes or some courses that just feel awkward. And there are some that just feel really good. This one has a real nice feel to me. Visually it looks good, I feel like it sets up well for my game. I like the small targets. I feel like it plays to my strengths which is keeping it in play and my iron game. So I feel like this course fits really nicely into what I do best.
Q. Does that give you a lot of confidence going into the weekend?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I do. I feel very confident. My putting has been the thing that always been erratic. I feel like I am rolling the ball pretty well this week. My dad and my brother both gave me the same tip independently of each other at the end of The Masters last week which kind of bothered me that they waited until after the fourth round to do it (laughter), but they both said the same exact thing at different times talking to each other that I was staying too far from the ball. So I moved the ball about two inches closer and I feel like I am stroking the ball much better as a result. So I feel good about my putting and my chipping and I am hitting the ball very well.
Q. Being the "Chased" as opposed to the "Chasee," just your thoughts on that?
TOM LEHMAN: It's only halfway. I rather be 10-under than 9-under. Leading just happens to be the spot that I am in. There's two more days to go, and it's a long two days and you just keep on playing. I will take two more 66s and I will be very happy with that.
Q. Was there a number you were looking for today?
TOM LEHMAN: Something low. (Laughs) The lower the better. I got to the course, I noticed right away that I think Vijay at the time might have been 10-under and so it was obvious that there was some good scores being shot and I certainly didn't want to go backwards. I kind of feel like if I can shoot anything in the 60s, I would have been happy.
Q. Did you have to make any adjustments from last year since the restoration or did you play pretty much the same?
TOM LEHMAN: Plays the same. Only thing real significant change was the 8th green. To me that is a pretty significant difference where that green is and the way it is shaped. Used to be bail it to the right, green was sloping towards you. Now it kind of goes back into the middle so missing right is not as safe as it used to be. Conversely, missing left is a little bit safer than it used to be. So I think that is pretty big change. But other than that it's pretty much the same as it was, although the greens required some relearning - the balls don't break the same as they used to.
Q. Why did they give you the advice Sunday night, something that they noticed in the final round?
TOM LEHMAN: Who knows? (Laughs) Probably because they -- you know, if I putted worse than I was already putting, they didn't want to be responsible for that. But it was pretty tough to do. I was -- I think I averaged about 32 putts a round last week or thereabouts and actually played extremely well shooting 68 with 32 putts, that is pretty strong tee-to-green. So afterwards they just said: Look, we think you're too far away and maybe going into next week you have got to work on that.
Q. If you made that adjustment, say, Wednesday night instead of Sunday night, what do you think you could have done last week?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, it's hard to say. I think they all watched me play for four days and the first day was: I putted decently. The second day: I putted terrible, shot 68. Third day: I putted terrible, shot 71. The fourth day: I putted terrible, shot 68. So I think they, you know, first couple of days they probably just were: "I wonder why he isn't putting better." Third day, they are like "What he is doing wrong?" By Sunday (snaps fingers) they figured it out. Hopefully they are right.
Q. (Inaudible) harder than the front 9. Yesterday you shot real low on the back. Today you finished strong on the back. What is the difference there this year, is it --
TOM LEHMAN: Well, we played the back nine first today and the wind was there, but it wasn't real strong. Although, 14th hole played 170 yards, 9-iron, so I guess with it blowing a little bit -- I feel like the back 9 is the whole key, is in the first three holes on the back 9. If you can play the first three holes well, 10, 11, 12, three really good par 4s, you have a chance of shooting a good score because I feel like the last six holes if you can kind of keep it out of the H2O you could possibly shoot a real low number.
Q. At any point were you -- some of the golfers earlier today had said they preferred to have played in the morning as opposed to playing in the afternoon. Since you posted a good score in the morning yesterday, were you worried that because of maybe some conditions changing it may affect your strategy coming in or did it matter to you when you went ahead --
TOM LEHMAN: No, the wind was really not much of a factor, I don't think, yesterday or this morning. This afternoon it popped up some, but this course, you know, I have played here enough that it is almost -- the wind is second nature, you expect it and you know how to deal with it. It is part of the benefit of playing here a lot.
Q. Last couple of years you have had some players either won for the first time or maybe the second time or something like this. Used to be this tournament always had people who won a lot in the past, major winners, things like that. Now this year with the course having been reconditioned over the -- we have you and Vijay at the top. Is that indicative the way the course is? Indicative of the conditions out there or indicative of anything?
TOM LEHMAN: I don't think it means anything, quite frankly. You know, Stewart Cink won last year and he is a fantastic player. So it is no surprise that he won. So whoever hits it the best and makes more putts is going to win, whether it be a veteran or a rookie, but I do think though, you know, that maybe that the more experience you have here, the easier the course becomes and I think maybe that could possibly maybe explain something.
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