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June 12, 1999

Tom Lehman


JAMES CRAMER: We have Tom Lehman with us, 68 today. He's in a four-way tie for the lead at 199, minus-14. Why don't we go over your birdies before we take questions.

TOM LEHMAN: Got off to a good start on the 1st hole and made about a 40-footer for a birdie. I drove in the bunker with a 7-iron just left of the hole, a big shot. That's a nice way to start. 3rd hole, I hit a driver and a 5-iron just on the edge of the green about 18 feet from the hole and 2-putted. The following hole, I thought it was probably one of the toughest pin positions on the course, and I missed the green to the right. Hit a pretty good chip and pretty good putt, and missed, and made bogey. The 5th hole, par 5, I hit a good drive with a 3-wood, just in the left bunker. Hit a nice bunker shot about three feet and made birdie there. 10th hole, I hit a poor drive; made bogey. 13, hit a nice 6-iron about three feet away, and made that. 14, actually hit a real good shot there, 5-iron in about four feet, but missed it. 16, the par 5, I hit a so-so drive and a so-so second, and hit a nice pitch and made an 8-footer. Good save on 17 as well. About a 10-footer for par there.

Q. How was your health today?

TOM LEHMAN: I felt decent today. I felt really lousy yesterday. And last night, I felt terrible. And this morning, I felt much better.

Q. How did that affect your game yesterday? How sick were you, and do you think it cost you any strokes out on the course, especially on the back nine yesterday?

TOM LEHMAN: I don't know. It's just that I could feel it coming on, because all my -- everything started aching so much. You know how the flu gets: The body aches, and I could feel it starting in my hips and my legs and my calfs, and pretty soon, my back was hurting and my neck was hurting. I finished -- I 3-putted 17, partly due to lack of, you know, maybe my concentration got away a little bit. But I feel like I held it together pretty well yesterday; so it really didn't covert too much.

Q. Did you think you would be sitting here today tied for the lead in the tournament?

TOM LEHMAN: I thought as long as I wasn't just really sicker than a dog today, I would be okay. You know, I was more concerned about, you know, sometimes when you're getting over something, if you're taking medication, it kind of gives you that kind of light-headed, kind of ozone feeling, and I kind of had that starting out. I didn't have much feel to my swing, but as the day went on, I started feeling better; so I feel fine.

Q. Is it playing a little tougher today at all?

TOM LEHMAN: Well some holes were. But it definitely was breezier. But it helped on some holes and hurt on others. I think, overall, it probably played a little more definitely harder than it has been, but it wasn't significant.

Q. How did that ozone feeling play into the 40-foot putt?

TOM LEHMAN: It was a big surprise when it went in.

Q. How did you feel when you missed the putt on 14? You looked like you were beginning to make a charge, and it was there for you.

TOM LEHMAN: I was really upset with myself. I misread it. It broke more to the right than I thought it would. That's one of those putts that is really kind of a momentum killer. I had just birdied the hole before, and I hit a great shot. To make that birdie would really have got things really rolling. And to miss it was just deflating. You know, I was fortunate that I made a nice putt on 16 for birdie. Like I say, I hit two mediocre shots and had an 8-footer for birdie and made it. If I missed that putt, this round could have been very, very mediocre.

Q. It looked like the putt before that almost rolled around the cup, too.

TOM LEHMAN: On 13, I almost missed that, too. Sometimes when you -- like earlier in the round, I hit some really good putts that were just burning the lips. There are times when that happens, you don't see the ball dropping in the hole very often; pretty soon, everything looks like the hole is this big -- (Indicating about an inch). It was nice to see that putt on 13 curl in. It was nice to see the putts on 16 and 17 go right in the middle.

Q. Is the strategy at all different when you're tied for the lead? There's several guys right there than if you maybe had a two-shot lead?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it's anybody's ball game. It's not just the four guys tied for the lead, but it's the 57 guys within four shots. Look at the leaderboard. There are so many guys bunched up near the lead; so it's going to take, I think, a very aggressive, low-scoring round tomorrow to win. I think whoever wins is going to have to really take it pretty deep. It's all set up, really for some pretty low scores. Especially if some guy kind of tees off maybe 45 minutes ahead of the last group and gets off to a great start and gets it to 18- or 19-under, it kind of makes everybody really more aggressive and takes the scores even lower; so it will take a low score.

Q. Tom, you said that it isn't playing that much more difficult. Yet hardly anybody -- not nearly the number of really low rounds today as there have been. Any explanation for that?

TOM LEHMAN: It was definitely more difficult. I mean, I'm not saying that it wasn't. But I didn't think that -- I thought if you played well, you could still shoot a low score. But if you didn't play as well, it's possible to shoot a higher score. I mean, yesterday, par yesterday was about 68. I was looking at the Internet last night at the scores, and I shot 68 and I was in the top, like, 25 scorers. There's only two -- I think I was like -- two or three guys shot 68 or higher. Everybody else shot 67 or lower. That's pretty serious scoring. Like I say, today some of the par 5s were with the wind, and if you didn't take advantage of those holes, then the course would play tougher.

Q. In the final round, will you look at the scoreboard at all? Do you have a superstition or anything on that?

TOM LEHMAN: I don't look starting out. I'll start the round out, and I'll play as hard as I can for the first 10, 12, 13 holes, whatever. And depending on how I'm playing, I'm sure I'll have an idea of where I'm standing. If I go out and play really great off the bat, I know that I'm going to be in the lead or near it. But I'll definitely take a peek at it somewhere early in the back nine and kind of see where everybody is standing.

Q. Tom, how much of your game is coming into shape around Open time is because of your success there? I guess I'm asking kind of a chicken and egg thing. Are you playing well because the Open is coming or does that give you confidence?

TOM LEHMAN: I've always enjoyed May, June, July, August. Those are my favorite times of the year to play. Probably because going into the U.S. Open, that's the only time you could play. It just seems to me that this stretch of tournaments from Colonial, Memorial, Kemper, Westchester, Memphis, U.S. Open, Western Open, British Open, all through the World Series of Golf, that whole stretch is just one great event after the next. And of all the stretches on the TOUR, that's the one that I look forward to the most.

Q. Is there any extra incentive to want to win this tournament because of next week?

TOM LEHMAN: I think winning would be a big confidence-booster. I haven't been playing my best, and I'm still hitting some goofy shots now and then, but I'm hitting a lot of really good shots. I think if I can go out and play a great round tomorrow and win this tournament, it would be a big boost to my confidence going into next week. Being able to say, hey, I played under the pressure; I dealt with it; I won. Even if I don't win tomorrow, if I can just go out and play a really good round, I can feel good about that, too. But I haven't won in two and a half years; so it's about time for me to get back in that circle.

Q. You seem to get a lot of support from the gallery. Like in Greensboro when you are coming up the 18th, you really weren't in the tournament, but you got such a huge ovation. That was a long ovation, and it just seemed like every tournament you get a lot of support from the galleries. Does that help you a lot?

TOM LEHMAN: That makes me feel good. There's places where I get a lot of support, and there's places where there's none almost. But I enjoy it. It's nice to know the people out watching are on my side. There have been times where I felt like the crowd was really behind me. The U.S. Open at Congressional, I could really feel the crowd strongly pulling for me; so it's nice having that kind of support that you can feel.

Q. What do you feel here?

TOM LEHMAN: Oh, I feel like they like me here, yeah. No doubt about it.

End of FastScripts....

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