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October 29, 1998

Tom Lehman


LEE PATTERSON: Very good day. Just a couple comments about your round, then we'll entertain questions.

TOM LEHMAN: I'm very happy with the way I played. I love this golf course. I think it's a demanding course. You need to hit it straight; you need to have a good touch on the greens. So I'm very pleased. Anything under par, I would have been very happy with.

Q. Didn't miss a green?

TOM LEHMAN: I was trying to think about that, the 15th or 16th hole. I can't recall even being on the fringe. I'm not sure if I was. If you put it on the fairway -- the course isn't a real long course. If you can get it in the fairway, you can generally put it on the green.

Q. Is this your best ball-striking round?

TOM LEHMAN: In a while?

Q. Yes.

TOM LEHMAN: You know, I've been hitting the ball decent. But I think this probably was an exceptional day. I'm not sure that I missed any drives in the thick rough. I hit a couple in the short stuff. I think I hit every green, so it was definitely, you know, seemed like an easy 3-under.

Q. Softer?

TOM LEHMAN: The greens were softer. I thought it quite interesting that the front nine greens were a lot slower than the back nine greens. The greens in the back nine were significantly quicker. Don't know why that is, but they were.

Q. Did you miss any short putts?

TOM LEHMAN: Miss any short putts? How short do you mean (laughter)?

Q. Ten feet and under.

TOM LEHMAN: Ten feet and under?

Q. Yes.

TOM LEHMAN: I may have missed about a 10-footer on No. 2 for birdie. But other than that, I think -- no, I think I made -- I never hit it close that often. I had a lot of 25-, 30-footers, you know, 18-footers, things like that. But on these greens, they're so pure, if you can get those, you know, 20-footers on the line, you can make some of them.

Q. Is your shoulder bothering you at all?

TOM LEHMAN: Today it felt really good. It's just been a strange injury. You know, it will feel great one day and awful the next. I'm hoping that, you know, it holds up for the next few days.

Q. No surgery coming down the road for that?

TOM LEHMAN: No, no, huh-uh.

Q. What's your schedule like for the rest of the year?

TOM LEHMAN: Skins Game, hopefully the Presidents Cup, and that's about it.

Q. Is there any adjustment you have to make or you find yourself making with the shoulder? It's in-and-out, as you say.

TOM LEHMAN: The reason I took so much time off, I kept on coming back and trying to play. I just couldn't because it was so weak and sore that I couldn't release the club enough to make a draw. You know, so I didn't come back and start playing again until really early October, until I could at least somewhat draw the ball. I really can't play if I can't draw it. So that's the big adjustment that I've had to make is I'm able to draw it consistently. I'm hitting it straighter, which seems like a good thing, but it makes it harder for me to aim. When you normally watch the ball turn a little bit, it doesn't turn, it makes it more difficult to aim.

Q. Is there some fear if you try to keep playing, you might make some adjustment that will screw your swing up?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, there was some of that. I went up to play Canada, ended up withdrawing on Tuesday, almost for that reason. I was really swinging poorly. It was getting worse. It was because of, you know, inability to swing the way I wanted to. I really felt like if I didn't take the next three or four weeks off, I may really ingrain something bad in my golf swing. I tried to give it enough time to heal where I could go ahead and make a reasonably hard swing at it.

Q. Is it a case now, do you wake up in the morning, like tomorrow morning, hoping that it doesn't feel bad?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, I don't really want to talk too much about the injury. The problem that I have is the front of the shoulder. It gets tightened up. The back of the shoulder is weak. So it kind of pulls the shoulder forward. I end up feeling like I'm sticking out like this all day long, which makes it really hard to (indicating). So the days that I wake up and I feel really tight and feel like this, I struggle (indicating). On the days that it feels less spasming, you know, then I play well.

Q. Some of the pretournament interviews, guys predicted that even par would be a good score on this golf course for the four days. Was that overly pessimistic, given the scores being shot today?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think the greens have changed since Monday and Tuesday. They're not quite as quick, for the most part, and they're softer. So I think on Tuesday, if you would have asked somebody, "What's going to win," they would say, "Shoot, you break par, you have a good chance." Now they've softened the greens up. If you were to answer today, you'd say, "Maybe eight or nine or ten under." If they don't water the greens anymore, if they get firmer as the week goes on, the scores will back up again, maybe back to 3, 4-under. It all depends on what they, whoever "they" are, do to the greens.

Q. You said in your interview on ABC that you like greens that are quicker.


Q. They've slowed down a little bit.

TOM LEHMAN: But they're still quick. "Quick" is relative. They could get these greens 14 if they wanted to on the Stimpmeter. In fact, I was talking to some folks, the grounds crew. They were upset because they're not allowed to get the greens what they consider to be fast. They're already fast, but they could be incredibly fast, you know, lightning fast. But that would make it almost, you know, a crap shoot. It would make it too difficult.

Q. What was the yardage on 18 today? Do you like that as a finishing hole Sunday, if you're in contention?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it was 242 or something like that, 240. I hit a 1-iron, for example. I think, you know, it's not just to get into the green. The green is pretty severe also. I think if you have a one-shot lead, you need to make a par on 18, you'll have earned your victory if you can make your par. That would be a great 3.

Q. Is it hard to gear up for US Open-like conditions at the end of the year when a lot of guys are thinking about the off-season?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, not for me because I've got a lot to play for this week. You know, I think there's been some grumbling amongst some of the players that I've heard of. I think that's kind of it. "We've worked hard all year. Why make us play the US Open again in the beginning of November?" Let's make it more entertaining. Let's play a course where you can shoot 10, 12, 14 under.

Q. You've got a lot to play for?


Q. What do you mean by that?

TOM LEHMAN: Oh, you know, there's -- just pride is one thing. You know, I haven't really been in contention for a while, so I'd like to play a good tournament here. Presidents Cup is another, I'd like to make that team. Right now I'm not even sure where I stand, 13, 14, 15, something like that. So, you know, I think a really good week this week, a victory especially, would give me a spot on the team. I'd love to make that team. I'm excited about that because I've always played my very best golf on courses like this, firm conditions, fast greens, the ball bounces. Every victory I've had, every good finish I've had, has been on hard, fast courses. I know Royal Melbourne will be that way, so I'd love to play in that tournament.

Q. Any thoughts about the shoulder, provided you do make -- play your way onto the team? Any thoughts about your shoulder? Once you get there, do you have anything personally where you'd say, "I don't know if I'm ready to compete"?

TOM LEHMAN: If I can play now, I'll be able to play then. The shoulder thing is more than -- you're making more of an issue than it really is. It's not a hundred percent, but it's way better than it was a month ago. A month from now, it will be even better yet.

Q. You're on your way?

TOM LEHMAN: I'm on my way, yes.

Q. What did you do during the weeks off?

TOM LEHMAN: What did I do?

Q. Did you just hang out with the kids?

TOM LEHMAN: That's none of your business (laughter). I'm just teasing you. I spent a lot of time at home. I've been doing some golf course design. I spent a lot of time doing that. I've done some practicing, minimal practicing. But just being home was nice.

Q. I wondered if you built a boat?

TOM LEHMAN: Built a boat? Built a tree house? No, nothing like that. Nothing quite so, you know, whatever, nothing like that.

Q. What project are you most excited about with your design?

TOM LEHMAN: Really, I like all of them. I'm pretty new at it. I've only been doing it for a year and a half or two years. Every project to me is exciting.

Q. How many do you have?

TOM LEHMAN: I finished two, one in Tucson, one just outside of Minneapolis. Working on the TPC course in Minneapolis with Arnold Palmer's company. Doing a course, almost done, down in Tampa. So they're in different parts of the country, different styles of courses. I really enjoy it. I'm excited about the things that are going on. I can see it becoming, you know, more of a mainstream business as I get older, something that I enjoy doing.

Q. Turning your designer eye on this place, is there anything about this that really appeals to you, about the setting in general, the uniqueness of it?

TOM LEHMAN: Oh, I just like the history. I think the one thing that I enjoy most about this place has nothing to do with the golf course; it has to do with the pictures up near the locker room. There's a hallway with a bunch of old newspaper articles that are framed. Most of them are Bobby Jones related memorabilia. You look at them, they have the baseball box scores in there. You look at the box scores, Ruth went two for five, Gehrig was three for four. The history, to me, that just blows my mind. Kind of like the history of the place is what really turns me on. The golf course, you know, it fits. It's very traditional looking, has a great balance. The bunkering, the shaping of the fairways, the greens, to me it's a very fitting, classical golf course.

LEE PATTERSON: Go over your birdies real quick.

TOM LEHMAN: All pars except for birdies on No. 4, hit an 8-iron about four feet. 9, I hit a sand wedge about ten feet. 17, I hit a 6-iron about 25 feet. The rest were pars. There were no saves. Just a bunch of two-putts.

Q. No threat for bogey?

TOM LEHMAN: I mean, a couple of five-footers for par, but that's about it.

Q. Which hole was it that you used the pitching wedge out of the rough?



TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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