home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 24, 2000

Tom Lehman


JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: We'd like to welcome Tom Lehman in the interview room. Excellent round today. 4-under, 68; 5-under for the tournament. Let's talk about your round and then take a couple of questions.

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think I am not sure what has been said in here before -- I really think that we, meaning the guys who played early yesterday and late today, got a big break with the weather. I am not sure how the scores all balanced out, but it seemed like it was probably quite a bit easier from our half of the draw. I think we got a nice break. But with that said, I played pretty well, drove the ball very well, and made some putts, especially made a nice save on the 18 for par, which is always a nice way to kind of finish it off. So it is a kind of course where you hit some good shots that turn out poorly and some poor shots that turn out pretty good. And so you just kind of take what you can get.

Q. You have always seemed to play well at this course. Any particular reason?

TOM LEHMAN: I am not exactly sure why. I mean, other than that, I like it a lot. This is one of my favorite courses we play all year. I think next to Pebble Beach, this maybe my favorite.

Q. Why is that?

TOM LEHMAN: I just like the way it plays. I mean, there is some quirkiness to it, but I think more than anything I like the fact that you can aim away from the pins a lot of times and still get the ball close to the hole. You can be creative, and you can really shape shots and use the undulations, and the ball can travel 50 feet across the green and end up close to the hole. I kind of like that.

Q. How much of what you have done already this year, Tom, if any, would you think would help you this weekend?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think having won this year kind of broke the streak. So I feel very comfortable with my golf game. I am very at peace with myself and with my game and with everything going on around me, so I am very comfortable on the golf course. So I am -- I think my chances are as good as anyone's.

Q. I am trying to remember when you won at Phoenix, we asked you where you were there in relation to your Player-of-the-Year season. I think you said you thought you were there or maybe even a little better; is that --

TOM LEHMAN: I think I am playing as well as I was playing in '96, yeah.

Q. The question then is right now compared to say 1996, are you continuing on a forward thing?

TOM LEHMAN: The first two days at Phoenix, I played about as well as I could play. I don't think I am playing quite as well as that this week. But mentally I am very focused, very sharp, which makes up for a lot. So I would say in terms of how I am playing now compared to Phoenix, I am very, very close. Definitely driving the ball every bit as good and making some putts too. So that is two things that are very important around here.

Q. Does that sort -- I know you are concentrating on this tournament, but there is another one in a couple of weeks. Is it exciting to be playing like you are playing right now at this time of year?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it is always nice to play well. Especially in the beginning ones, there is no question that if you are going to pick a tournament to play well in, you might as well pick a big one. Unfortunately, you can't always control that. But a lot of times when you kind of look at the past history and what works best for you, in terms of maybe normally always playing best the second week in a row that you play, you know, you can kind of gear up for the big ones that way. So it is nice to be able to feel like you are peaking at the right time.

Q. I told you earlier in the week you had that look about you, and you talked earlier about -- touched on it a little bit, about how you're at peace with yourself and happy with your game. You have got that look and good feeling back.

TOM LEHMAN: (laughs) Yeah, I feel good. I really do. I feel good. I just feel comfortable. I can't say it any other way. There is times when you get on a golf course where you just don't feel comfortable, you don't---maybe you are not swinging well or maybe there is something going on in your life where you are out of focus. I just feel like everything is where -- right where it needs to be. My game is good, I have got a great caddie, and together I think we are really making a lot of good decisions on the course and we are not making many mistakes.

Q. Do you, because of your success here in the past, do you approach this tournament more positively than, say, some others?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I'll give you an example: Byron Nelson, I have never made a cut there. I will go there and play as -- play as well as I can play, and I will shoot 142. I will go there, and I will play as badly as I can play, and I will shoot 142. So I might as well just send in my 142, which misses the cut by one, every year and just stay home. I don't -- I am not comfortable there. The course for some reason doesn't quite click with me; but this one, I have always played fairly well. I expect to play well. I feel like I know how to play the course; and, therefore, I have a lot of really positive feelings about this tournament.

Q. There has been a lot said in the last week about Colin talking about what happened with Tiger, whether or not people thought it was over. You and Hal have both said very strongly the other way this week. Is there a coincidence that you guys are where you are at this week? And talk about the challenge this weekend in that regard.

TOM LEHMAN: I mean, after one round, I thought what Monty said was a little bit strange. After one round it's still anybody's ballgame. After three rounds, now, it's a little different story. Seemed like three rounds there is -- there is a little more definiteness to the whole thing maybe. After one round, forget it. So this is a kind of golf course that really rewards great course management, more than anything. I think there is no reason why any number of guys can't win here. I expect Tiger Woods to play great. I expect Tom Lehman to play great. I expect Ernie Els to play great. I expect a lot of guys to play great. Anybody can win.

Q. Whether it is a feeling of needing to raise your game or a feeling of being intimidated, has Tiger gotten into everyone's head one way or the other because of the way he has played?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, you have to give credit where credit is due. I think I was always raised in sports to think there is two cardinal sins in sports. One is underestimating your opponent, and the other one is overestimating your opponent. Both ways don't do you any good in terms of your own performance. I respect very much the other players on our Tour. But yet, if I didn't think I was capable of beating them and winning, I wouldn't be out here. So you look around, you see what guys have done, and you say: "Well done; well played. Congratulations." You know. You deserve whatever you get. And you respect them for it. But at the same time, you have to give yourself enough credit to go out and do your best too.

Q. Have you seen Monty since Wednesday?


Q. Would you say anything to him? What were you thinking?

TOM LEHMAN: No, I wouldn't say anything. I mean, whatever -- if that is what he was thinking, that is what he was thinking. That is Monty.

Q. What is it about difficult conditions and difficult courses that seem to bring out the best in you?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I like firm conditions. There is no question about it. If you gave me the choice of playing on rock-hard fairways and greens versus soft ones, I'd take rock-hard every time. I think it creates, you know, creates -- it forces you to be really patient, first of all, and to be very focused. And I guess if I had to evaluate myself, when I focus well, I play well. Sometimes when the conditions are a little bit easy, a little bit soft, more benign, my focus isn't anywhere near as good. If it's not a really big tournament, maybe I tend to let down -- not quite as focused. So the hard conditions and big tournaments you really kind of narrow my focus. I think that is a big reason why I play better.

Q. How are these conditions compared to last year when there was a lot of complaining?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think they have done a better job this year. The greens actually were receptive today. You could hit -- I mean, I hit 4-iron into No. 11 today, for example, downwind. Landed on the green, actually stayed on the green. Landed and rolled about 30 feet and stopped. I mean, downwind 4-iron to 11, forget it. Last year, that thing would have been in the back bunker. So I think they have done an outstanding job with kind of keeping control of the greens. I am sure they don't want to see a repeat performance of last year.

Q. Is that fair or too easy? You talk about 4-iron that releases 30 feet. Are you saying that is fair?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think that is fair because I hit it very well. Nice and high. If I would have kind of blistered a low one in there, it still would have gone over. I hit a really good shot and I got rewarded for it.

Q. Got a result that you might have expected?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, it was -- still rolled out quite a ways, but I was still on the green putting. Fair is when the good shots are rewarded. Unfair is when a good shot is not rewarded. Right now the course is rewarding good shots.

Q. What kinds of balance does it require this course between playing aggressive and hanging onto what you have got?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, a little bit like Augusta in a way, kind of forces you to be aggressive at times. The greens are sectioned off in a lot of cases where there is big undulations and if you don't get it in the right spot, you have got a very difficult putt. It kind of forces you very often to be somewhat aggressive to get it in a spot where you can make a putt. So there is -- you can't play this course scared. Just no way. You can play it smartly, play it with respect, but you can't play it scared.

Q. Two questions about 17. How big is the box that you are aiming at on 17?

TOM LEHMAN: It is not real big. I am kind of looking towards the middle of the green, right on top of that hump. The pin today was back left. Tomorrow it is probably going to be back middle, so I am kind of looking just over the ridge, it would be about 15 feet short of where the pin will be.

Q. Like a kiddie pool size?

TOM LEHMAN: No, it is bigger than that. The pin on Sunday to the right is kiddie pool size. That one there, you kind of have to go at that pin -- in order to get it close -- there is a little -- you can play a little bit left, kind of trickles down, but you can't go too far left, so...

Q. Secondly, do you like that hole in terms of a concept? This is a great course. Does this hole add to it or detract from it at all?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it adds. Although I would make one change to the green. I would go in and raise up the front left of the green a little bit. It's gotten to the point now where it really just slides right off. It gets to the fringe, comes like this; then the fringe drops down even more. The ball is going off the left side of the green, just right in the water. So I would flatten that just a little bit so that a ball that is coming down the bank doesn't always go down into the water.

Q. How far has this golf course come since you started playing out here?

TOM LEHMAN: It's a different universe. When we played the Tour School here in 1982, the greens were -- I mean, the greens were just -- well, as I say, if the greens were as fast then as they are now, you couldn't have putted them. You probably couldn't find pins in a lot of them. So they have tamed the greens down. They have added bunkers, taken some away, but it's in phenomenal shape, so I think the course is tremendous.

Q. Fulton Allem was in here earlier entertaining us. He said that the guys in the locker room make sure he has got a lot of friends in there, and a lot of other guys think he's a jackass. Where do you fall in that spectrum? And do you --

TOM LEHMAN: Repeat that question.

Q. Fulton Allem -- good guy or jackass?

TOM LEHMAN: Oh, gee. Well, I think I like Fulty a lot. I met Fulton Allem in -- I guess it was late '80s I was playing in South Africa. He is from a place called Bloom Fontaine (phonetic), which is just basic South Africa towns. That is where I met him at. We get along really well. I think he is -- Fulty is kind the of guy that you really don't get a neutral opinion of. So either you like him or you don't. I like him a lot. My wife and I both get along great with him. We like him a lot.

Q. Never had to get on you about speeding up at any time?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, not yet. No, but we are friends. We are definitely friends. And I appreciate his friendship.

Q. You said that I am sure they didn't want to see a repeat performance of last year, talking about the conditions. Who is the "They"?

TOM LEHMAN: That nebulous "they" out there --

Q. Also is there a player input that goes into the fact that it is not going to get as severe this year?

TOM LEHMAN: I think there definitely is player input. And the "They" would have to be the Tour staff, the guys who do the setup of the golf course along with the superintendent. So I am sure that the players have given input. Like last year was a joke, we can't get -- that was over the edge. So keep the greens alive this year. That should be the goal. Let's keep them at least somewhat green, and somewhat living; therefore, somewhat playable. So I think the rules officials, along from player input working with the superintendent here, they have done a really good job.

Q. You said that today you thought the course was fair. Do you think the course was fair yesterday?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I think it was fair yesterday. It was a tough day, though. Because even yesterday the greens held a shot. They were firm. They were down right hard in spots, but they did hold for the most part, hold a shot. If you hit it in the fairway, you could usually hold the green.

Q. Are you more satisfied with yesterday's round considering the conditions, or today's round?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, today was somewhat gusty also for a while there. But I think I played better -- probably played better today. So I am happy with today's round.

End of FastScripts...

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297