April 12, 2001
HILTON HEAD, SOUTH CAROLINA
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you for coming over and spending some time with us. Very good start to the week. Maybe just a couple of thoughts about that; then we will open it up to questions.
TOM LEHMAN: Thank you, I am happy to be here and spending time with you. First of all, that is always a good sign. I was telling Andrew, my caddie, that this round, plus the last four at Augusta, were probably 5 of the nicest days to play golf that I can remember in consecutive days. Perfect day. The weather was ideal. Just a gentle breeze, not much wind. The greens are -- they are new so they are not real fast and they are a little bit firm, so they are just about right for making putts, I thought. Hit good iron shots. You can make them stop, and the speed is perfect for being aggressive, and making some putts.
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?
Q. As calm as it was this morning, was it the kind of day that you had to make a good number?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it certainly helps. I wouldn't want to shoot over par today. The course was just there for the taking. And it was playing short. Seemed like some -- a lot of the longer holes are playing downwind - what little wind there was. 8th hole was playing short. The fifth hole was playing short. And I hit 6-iron to No. 5, the par 5 and hit pitching wedge to No. 8, which is nothing I have ever done before. The course was giving up, I think, some -- giving up something.
Q. What was it out there in the fairway on 8? Were you standing in casual water --
TOM LEHMAN: No, because of some of the new construction there was a big drainage gully, actually step depression with a vertical edge on one side, where the drainage was. And the grass was about four inches long, and so there I am, 135 yards to the pin, I am standing in a hole and the grass is this long (indicating three inches) so I just called for a ruling, and just to say I am in the fairway. This is -- this is some kind of ground repair, unusual damage or something. You shouldn't be -- they gave me a drop.
Q. Then you hit it about 15 --
TOM LEHMAN: Twelve feet and I made it.
Q. Forgive me for asking a Tiger question, but when you --
TOM LEHMAN: Who? (Laughter)
Q. When you come to a tournament like this and Tiger is not in the field, is that something you are cognizant of?
TOM LEHMAN: Not really. I mean, yes and no. There is a lot more excitement in the air and a lot more hoopla going on when Tiger is playing. So you are certainly aware of it. You know if Tiger is playing you are going to have to beat the best to win. But on the other hand, you do what you can do. So I just -- I enjoy this tournament a lot. I love the golf course. So I try to just kind of do my thing no matter who is playing.
Q. What is it about this course? I mean your record here is spectacular.
TOM LEHMAN: Other than winning, I have played very well.
Q. Aside from that, right. (Laughs)
TOM LEHMAN: I played very well. You know, last year I thought I played extremely well and ended up making a bunch of birdies coming in shooting a 69 the last round. Then Stewart Cink birdied the last few holes to win. I feel like I played very well here. But just not well enough to win. Why it is? I love the golf course, I love the small greens. I really feel like I can hit the ball straight and I can hit the ball long. My iron-play is probably the strength of my game, so I hit -- I feel like I hit a lot of greens, save a lot of good chances to make birdies. I am just really comfortable. I love being here.
Q. You were crushing your driver today too.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, got a new driver. I got a new Taylor Made. It is like the second generation 320 which is the first generation. It just came out. Now they already have the second one. I mean, I was just bombing it. Just took it over the bunker on No. 5, had 6-iron to the green. No. 8 pitching wedge, you know, so it is an incredible driver.
Q. Had you planned to use that -- had you not gotten it, would you have used the old driver or....
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I had the one I have been using all ready to go, but George from Taylor Made yesterday just handed me one on the 1st tee and said: Give this thing a try. I couldn't lay off it. I just -- I had it go right in the bag. It is a great club.
Q. What is different about it than the first one?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it is kind of like - I am not sure you know what the clubs look like, it is a 300 shape, but with about a 360 size. So it is a deep face, more traditional looking type grudge, a lot of bulk and roll. Looks like an old Persimmon, only bigger, it's a very classic shape to it. And you know, fantastic club. Taylor, everybody is playing them. Everybody is playing those Taylor Made drivers. It is the best thing and hottest thing going. This is just the next generation of it.
Q. It is good to get back on the regular Tour after the intensity of a major?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, yeah, this is like the perfect place to do it. It's the anti-Augusta golf course, you know, flat, you know, the greens are small and reasonably flat and narrow, you know, so everything that Augusta is Harbour Town isn't. So it is a real change of pace and plus it is on the beach, so you it is a unique experience here. I think the fact that it's a big tournament with a great field and long tradition, big history, but yet after a major and it is in a beachy resort atmosphere so you have got this combination of competition and relaxation. I think it is the perfect place to play after The Masters.
Q. Will you going back to Lytham this year? Do you see that it is a harder place for Tiger to win than St. Andrews?
TOM LEHMAN: You know I am pretty convinced that there is no place that is hard for him to win.
TOM LEHMAN: Harder, yeah, maybe so. You know, St. Andrews is the ultimate big hitter's golf course. You can knock it by so much of the trouble. There is so many bunkers there that are out of play. So if you are a talented guy who hits it a long way you have got a real advantage over the rest of the field. Even more so than some other places. I feel like Royal Lytham on the other hand, is much narrower. It is significantly narrower than St. Andrews, you know it is not Carnoustie-narrow, but it is very narrow and the bunkers are way more in play. I think it is the kind of golf course where being in the fairway really means a lot. So that is -- that was my whole goal in 1996 was to keep the ball in the fairway, no matter what I had to hit off the tee, and to go from there. So talking about Tiger, he does that as well as anybody so he is not going to have any problem.
Q. Is this one of the tournaments you really feel you need to win before you call it a career? I mean, you do love this course. Would you feel an emptiness if you didn't win this thing? I am not trying to write you off early.
TOM LEHMAN: I understand your question. I think if you can pick, you know, the tournaments that you would like to win more than the others, this one would be on the list for sure. It has a great list of champions who have won here. It's a place that is just -- for some reason I have always felt really good about this tournament and this course, so I feel like would I feel like I am a little bit empty without winning it? No. But do I feel like I have a better chance than other places? The answer would be yes.
Q. Even early in the week like this, could you take a strong finish and carry it over?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I think any time that you finish strong, you know, birdie two or three of the last holes, it is a real boost, it is a momentum boost and I feel like that does carry over. I feel like whenever I really mess up the last hole, it's easily to let that kind of carry over the next day in some way - sometimes, not always, but sometimes, if you really do something that is stupid on 18, and it really ticks you off and it kind of just puts you into this, you know, angry frame of mind or a negative frame of mind and sometimes it just hangs in there for the overnight and next day so it is always nice to birdie 18.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, Tom, we appreciate it.
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