June 18, 1998
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
LES UNGER: We are pleased to have Tom Lehman sitting here this evening at this hour. I must admit that an hour and a half or so ago, when I saw that putting situation, I didn't think we would have the pleasure of your company today.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, the 10th hole wasn't my best effort, but I managed to survive and shoot a good score.
LES UNGER: Were those putts 3, 3 and a half feet?
TOM LEHMAN: First one was about four feet. And, I think there was a huge spike mark that was right in my line. It hit the spike mark and it bounced off line. Not much you can do about that. Missing the second putt. That was just a bad putt.
LES UNGER: Did that make you a little more determined to do what you did?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, actually, that being 2-over par at that point makes me feel like I really need to kind of -- I better not mess up anymore from here on in. I was in a tough situation I think. Making a birdie on the 11th hole, got the chip going back into the right trees; then a really good save on 12 which was like making a birdie, helped a lot more. So from that point forward, I played really well.
LES UNGER: Tom, would you take us through the none-par holes and maybe some saves, please.
TOM LEHMAN: First hole, I hit a driver and 4-iron back of the green, and 2-putted from 30 feet for birdie. 2nd hole, drove it in the rough with 1-iron, pitched it out short of the green, 2-putted for bogey. 3rd hole, hit it to the right, down the hill, made a bogey. 5, hit a 3-iron off the tee. Then 4-iron to the green. Then made about a 12-foot putt for birdie. 10th hole, hit 3-wood, middle of the fairway, 7-iron just left of the green, chipped on about four feet, then 3-putted for double. 11, good drive, good 7-iron, 15-foot, birdie. 15, hit a 7-iron about 30 feet short of the hole made a good putt for birdie. 16, hit a 3-wood, 3-iron, 9-iron, 12-footer, made that for birdie. 18, hit 3-iron, pitching wedge. Hit 6-footer; made that.
LES UNGER: Questions, please.
Q. What was the save on 12, and how did you play 17?
TOM LEHMAN: Hit it way right off the tee; had to pitch it out in the fairway. Hit a sand wedge in there about ten feet. Made the putt for a par. Those are the kind of things in the U.S. Open that I think you have to do once in a while because you are always going to drive in the fairway. No matter who you are, you need every so often to get up-and-down for par. That was one of those situations like making a birdie. 17, I think the wind might have switched a little bit when we got to 17 because I hit a good drive. 4-iron, 185 yards to the front edge, hit a really good second shot, right in the middle of the green. Then 2-putted from 30 feet. I know guys earlier, they were hitting 3-woods and that is what I have been hitting all week long. But I could feel the wind shift a little bit. It was definitely helping some.
Q. A little spookie always, the bridesmaid never the bride. Thoughts on that coming in?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah.
Q. Been here with you for a few years?
TOM LEHMAN: I try not to think about that. It is only the first round. It is a very, very, very hard golf course. I think, you know, over the last four years the Opens where I have played well at, I think this may be the most difficult course for me in terms of the course doesn't quite set up as well as maybe the other ones did. So I feel that, for me, it is quite difficult. I am not saying that I can't play well, obviously. But, it means that it requires my best golf.
Q. For all the near-misses you seem to have become the peoples' choice out there? Do you get that feeling that they are pulling extra hard for you?
TOM LEHMAN: I get the feeling that they do like me. I know they are cheering for a lot of guys. I think there is a lot of favorites out there. For one reason or another, maybe they like some guy because he is, you know, whatever, another guy because he is, whatever, and me they like me because I have come close. So I definitely think there is a definite strong support for me, but I don't think it is any stronger than it is for say Freddie or Mickelson or someone like that.
Q. Did you lose your bet today, the bet with your friend?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I am going to lose that bet. I was -- it always happens. As the tournament goes on and people are trampling through the rough and taking big patches of grass out, that the rough definitely gets spottier as the week goes on so. That bet is probably going to get lost.
Q. There has always been all the talk about the putting for you and whatever else. I am wondering did you start to feel something going at Westchester? What is your mental disposition, when you are down in the jungle there to the right of the third hole?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, Jim Flick gave me a good putting lesson about three weeks ago. I think that is something that really made sense to me and I have been working on it. It has definitely provided some good results. Really has nothing to do with my stroke as much as using my eyes better to visualize the path of the putt. But the third hole, I mean --
Q. The wait was a big problem?
TOM LEHMAN: Three groups waiting is ridiculous. Then having to hit a long iron to that hole is never any fun anyway. But, I expected the ball to go in the right bunker. When it flew over the bunker, I was pretty surprised.
Q. How long was the second putt on 10?
TOM LEHMAN: First putt was four feet. Second putt was probably three and a half feet. The third putt was about three feet. So it was like I had three tries; finally made one.
Q. You used to play the Golden State Mini-tour around here and you have a lot of friends out here. Were they out here for you? Do you feel it is like a home course for you?
TOM LEHMAN: Not a home course, but you are right, I have played a lot of mini-tour golf up in this part, especially down in Mountain View, at the Mountain View Open. So I have been up here some. And, I have a lot of friends, definitely.
Q. There is a bunch of guys kind of bunched up at the top. How do you view the first day and the importance of the first day and what is your goal in the first day?
TOM LEHMAN: I think anybody will probably tell you that their whole goal is to -- I mean, you can't win the tournament the first round, but you can certainly lose it. So as long as you don't lose it the first round, you need to be happy. So, I think anybody who has shot you know, 74, 73 or better, even 75, you know, they are definitely still in the tournament. Because as you can see, you can shoot under par out here if you play well. If you shot 74, 5, first day have a couple of good rounds get back to even par you have got a chance to win.
Q. With all the success that you have had in the past few years at the U.S. Open, you are probably a good guy to comment on the conditions of U.S. Opens and specifically this one and what your impressions were after Day 1 here?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think the USGA did a great job with some of the holes that were so difficult in 1987. And namely the 9th hole, 17th hole. I think by making a tee that is back a little bit further on 17, you are not hitting quite so much into the side-slope, therefore, you can hit the fairway a little bit easier; which is good. 9th hole, they extended the fairway out to the left A little bit more, so, again, the ball will stay in the fairway if you hit a good shot. So I think, you know, few little tweaks they have made have been very good. The greens were a little spongy, I thought. In spots they were inconsistent. I'd like to see the greens more consistent whether they be soft or hard, let them all be either soft or hard. Other than that, the course is in great shape.
Q. Do you remember making a double-bogey in the last two, three years; if not, is this a particularly satisfying round?
TOM LEHMAN: Have I made a double-bogey?
Q. In the last couple of Opens?
TOM LEHMAN: I am not sure. I don't think I made one last year. I think I made -- bogey was my worst score. I think it is easier to make one here. The reason for that, I think, is that a lot of times when you miss the fairway, trying to get that little shot back into the fairway can be an extremely difficult shot because the slope of the fairway -- if you miss the fairway on the high side, then chip to get it back in the fairway, it is almost impossible to keep it rolling to the other side of the rough again. So, you really need to pay attention, I think, to which way they are sloping you are better off missing the fairway. I was on the low side.
Q. There are a lot of players who had a nice round going coming into the last three, four holes, and really gave up a lot of strokes. You played it well. Payne played it well. What is your approach going into those holes? Is it a matter of hanging on? Do you feel like you can make up strokes?
TOM LEHMAN: I think 15 is definitely -- you should be thinking about making a birdie there. You have got a short iron in your hands and the green is a lot bigger than it use to be. So I think it is a hole that you can be more aggressive on. 16, like I said, if you can drive it in the fairway and lay it up in the fairway should be thinking birdie there as well. The problem is, you know, I think the layup shot there is very difficult on the 16 hole. It is easy to lay it up in the rough.
LES UNGER: Thank you very much. More 68s.
TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.
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