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September 13, 2000

Tom Lehman


NELSON LUIS: We'd like to go ahead and welcome Tom Lehman here today. He's the winner of the Phoenix Open this year and has seven Top-10s, ranks 8th on the money list. Why don't you give us some of your thoughts on the course, and your thoughts on being here this week?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, the golf course, I'm sure you've probably been hearing from everybody, is a fantastic golf course. It's fun to play. It's the old traditional look, which I think is wonderful. Greens are very difficult. Greens are severe, which I think will make it very challenging for the players, trying to keep the ball in the right spots on the greens. You're going to see a lot of 3-putting I would imagine from guys who play the ball above the hole. I think it is going to be a very challenging week. I'm very happy to be here. The Tour is generally very pleased to be in Pennsylvania, and so it's great to be a part of this tournament.

Q. How different is it for to you play a course where you may not be familiar with the yardage and so forth compared to other courses on TOUR?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, nobody knows the course very well which is kind of nice, kind of an equalizer, there's no advantage to anybody. There's no advantage to a 15-year veteran or a first-year player, so it's kind of nice to have a new course to try to learn quickly. This course, really, there are some tricks to it, obviously, but it's pretty basic; you've got to keep the ball below the hole, don't get above the hole and don't miss the greens above and long especially. The rules here are pretty basic.

Q. Are you surprised that the TOUR is coming to a traditional sort of course for what is essentially a brand-new event?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it's kind of nice. Yesterday I was playing with Casey Martin. It's been his first year out here, and he was really marvelling at the fact that this is a traditional old-style course as opposed to a TPC-style course we're getting so used to, stadium-golf type field. This one is definitely not that. It's really kind of a nice break. It's nice to play a course that has a U.S. Open feel. It seems like we're getting more and more away from that as the TOUR grows, and so it's nice to get back on courses like this one or Westchester Country Club more often.

Q. How are you feeling?

TOM LEHMAN: I feel good. Yeah, I feel good.

Q. How is the knee?

TOM LEHMAN: Knee is pretty good. You know, it doesn't hurt at all to swing a golf club or to walk around the golf course. Still really can't run, but there's not much running in golf; so I'm pretty safe with that.

Q. This course isn't really long. How many times did you hit driver? How many times do you think the average guy is going to hit driver?

TOM LEHMAN: I think I hit -- I only played it one time, but the wind is different today so it will be different today as well. I think yesterday I probably hit four or five 1-irons off the tee and then the rest were drivers, maybe a 3-wood. Length is really not a big factor. The par 5's are all reachable. The rough is up pretty good. The big thing is keeping it in the fairway, keeping it below the hole.

Q. What kind of courses did you grow up on and why do you like this style of a golf course?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I grew up in Alexander, Minnesota, and the course is just your basic, semi-private, semi-public golf course. No fairway bunkers, very few bunkers around the greens but a nice little course, not really the style I grew up on. But in Minnesota, the State Amateurs, State opens were very much all like this, Minikahda and Interlachen and those kind of places are the courses I really look forward to playing most, courses that are like this style. It's not to say anything negative about the newer courses because the newer courses are fantastic also. Just a different style, and so to come back and play an older style golf course now and then is great. I think the Tour has a pretty good balance, really, of the kind of courses we do play, but it's always nice to make sure we don't lose courses like this one or Westchester.

Q. Did you know much about Philadelphia before you got here?

TOM LEHMAN: I never spent any time here at all, actually. I know there's a lot of history here -- remembering all the history lessons in grade school, all the things that happened in Philadelphia, but as far as spending time here, really it's been almost zip.

Q. You are the leading money winner, at No. 8, you could make a huge leap this week with a big first-place check. Are you guys glad when, say, the top four or five players on the money list are not here or do you wish they were?

TOM LEHMAN: You know, I haven't even thought about that, so I guess -- am I glad? I'm not either glad or sad. I haven't thought about it. I think the more good players, the better. If you had to give me the pick of which I'd like to have, the Top-10 guys in the world playing this week or not, I'd say definitely yes. And that way, if you win, you feel like you beat the best. But the flip side of that coin, though is that there's a ton of really good players out here. So it's not like when the field is -- doesn't have the Top-10, there's no good players, that's not true. I think you've seen over and over again that tournaments where Tiger has not played or Davis has not played or Mickelson or Ernie Els that you've had very competitive fields and very competitive golf tournament. So whether or not the guys are here or not doesn't really make any difference in terms of how competitive.

Q. I know you are focusing on this course right now, but after this tournament is over, what's the rest of the schedule look like? What goals do you have left for this year?

TOM LEHMAN: I'm actually taking some time off after this week. Going to play the Dunhill Cup and the Presidents Cup, and then a week off before the TOUR Championship and Valderrama, and I'll finish the year with the Grand Slam tournament and then the Tiger Woods Tournament. I'll be pretty busy, except for a little three-week break after this week through the end of November.

Q. Golf is becoming a pretty strong game in marketing and Wall Street and stuff like that. What do you think has attributed to the fact that when you see Tiger and David in commercials, years ago you didn't see golfers doing the marketing? What do you think has accounted for that?

TOM LEHMAN: The image of golf has just gotten so good. People look at golf and they see a great sport where you basically go out and earn whatever you get. It's a game everybody can play and more people are playing. It's a great way to entertain clients if you're part of corporate America. It's a great way to be involved and get some exposure. Having the PGA TOUR is a great group to be identified with, and so I think more than that, I think the image of the Tour, the image of the golfers who create the Tour and the leadership of the Tour have created an atmosphere that people want to be around. So I think more than anything, it creates a very fertile ground for the top players to kind of step up and being much marketable. Plus it helps to have the fact to have the most successful, well-known athlete in the country, if not in the world, is a golfer right now; it just adds that much more legitimacy to golfers as athletes and as marketing tools.

Q. If, heaven forbid, you are above the hole here --?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, that will happen a time or two.

Q. Do you just try to 2-putt it, lag it?

TOM LEHMAN: I think you're just hoping to 2-putt, for sure. You know, there's some spots where you can put it off the green. There's some spots where you cannot get it close. So I think if you get in a position, you just kind of take your medicine and go. Just hopefully you don't put yourself there. Kind of like playing St. Andrews and wanting to avoid all the pot bunkers. If you can go around and avoid the pot bunkers, you can play and you can do it. So the same thing here, if you can avoid being above the hole. It may mean that you have a long uphill putt sometimes or whatever, but you can probably manage your game to make that happen as few times as possible.

Q. How close to the Masters are these greens?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, these greens have more slope than Augusta. If these greens were at Augusta speed you probably could not play them. One thing that Augusta does do is that you definitely have pin positions and around the holes you can putt. But these greens here, there's probably not as many pin positions; there's more slope than at Augusta. I would say in terms of difficulty, these rank right up there with Augusta.

Q. How many putters do you have?

TOM LEHMAN: How many do I have? Well, I've got one with me. I've used the same putter since 1983 or 1984. There's been times that I've changed and tried a new putter. I tried a new putter at NEC, just because coming off knee surgery my game wasn't sharp anyway and I thought it would be a good time to experiment. I made five birdies in four rounds. I figured my putter works a lot better than that one I tried. So I've gone back to old reliable. It is comfortable and feels good and I don't see any reason to change. And besides, it's not the putter, it's the person using it.

Q. Who makes the putter?

TOM LEHMAN: It's an old Taylor Made Model Eight.

Q. What's the curiosity factor in the weeks leading up to this event, guys trying to figure out whether or not to play it what questions they have? And in the coming weeks when guys know that you have played here, what will they be asking you about, what was the course like what was the tournament like?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think the course definitely does play a factor and players will talk about whether the course was good or bad. They will say: "Boy, I'm never going to go back there again"; or they'll say: "What a great place, I can't wait to go back there and play again." This is that kind of course; I can't wait to play there again in a couple years or whenever that might be. That kind of talk definitely goes through the ranks of the players. And guys who maybe would not consider playing will look at the schedule and see if it fits in, because they want to play a course like this. I think the style of golf course is a big factor. The purse is a big factor. Maybe the biggest thing, though, is where it is in the schedule. If it doesn't fit in the schedule for, you know, a top player, or really any player, they are probably not going to play, regardless. Those are probably all the three biggest factors.

Q. Are you surprised that you've gone 15 minutes and really haven't been asked a Tiger question?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I'm surprised and I'm pleased, so that's good.

Q. Do you think a new event like this, does it hurt a new event not having the marquis person here to help support it?

TOM LEHMAN: Every tournament would benefit by having him here; so I guess that answers the question.

Q. Do you know any more about the course that this tournament is going to be played on next year?

TOM LEHMAN: At Laurel Valley? I think I played there in Arnold's Charity Skins Game a few years ago. I've played there. It's a nice course, great course. It will be a great place for the tournament. But I'm not sure, is it rotating back and forth every year?

Q. Right. What do you think of that?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it is good. I think it is very good. Two great golf courses.

Q. With the new popularity of golf and the marketing and Tiger being out here and everything, it brings kind of a different gallery. You won at Phoenix where it is notorious for being a rowdy gallery. We'll see what this week is like. Do you like that? The noise, is it distracting?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it is good. Phoenix has always been wild. Before Tiger, after Tiger is long gone, it is still going to be wild. That's just the way that place is. But the more people that come out to watch golf, I think it's the better for golf. I think we as players -- maybe golf as a whole need to accept the fact that the galleries are changing somewhat and getting more sports fans, not just golf fans. And when sports fans go to a Phillies game or Eagles game, they don't just sit on their hands and clap politely. That's okay. I think that's good. There's kind of a combination of the golf fan maybe learning just how far they can go before it is inappropriate. I think there's kind of probably a juggling act right now, and sometimes it goes overboard and sometimes it is okay. But there's definitely a -- there's definitely room to escalate the excitement over what it was, say, 15, 20 years ago. As long as it doesn't go beyond the point of being courteous and being abusive. If it gets abusive, there's no place for that.

Q. Speaking of Phoenix, what did you think of the Bird's Nest being moved?

TOM LEHMAN: I don't think it is going to affect it, if you want my personal opinion. I don't think the Bird's Nest was the problem. People still could get beer out there, whether it is across the road or not. If anything, it is going affect the attendance. But it is not going to affect the way the people act on the 16th hole. People on the 16th hole are not at the Bird's Nest; they are on the 16th hole. They go get their beer and go to the 16th hole and they have a great time. So I really don't think the Bird's Nest will make one bit of difference.

Q. You're going to be playing with the CEO of SEI in the Pro-Am. How do you feel about Pro-Ams?

TOM LEHMAN: I like the Pro-Ams. It's a good way to learn more about the golf course. A good way to meet some new people. Playing with the CEO of SEI is obviously a great opportunity for some of us on the Tour to show them a good time, show them appreciation for their involvement, have some fun. I think Pro-Ams for a number of reasons are very good. I enjoy them.

Q. Going into the week, what hole is going to play the toughest out here?

TOM LEHMAN: I don't know the course well enough to be able to say. You could probably ask me that after the round today; I would probably have a better idea. But I would think, off the top of my head, the 9th hole is a good hole. No. 17 is a good hole. No. 10 is a good hole, if it is into the wind. It was downwind yesterday and I think it is into the wind today; I think it will be a driver and a long iron. I'll have a better feel after we play today.

End of FastScripts….

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