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March 29, 1998

Tom Lehman


TOM LEHMAN: (laughs) Well, it was a great week. I think next to the U.S. Open, this is definitely my favorite tournament that we play all year. Over the course of the last six years I have had increasing success. I am not sure what the exact record is, but I think I finished like 13th, 12th, 11th, 8th, 6th and now 2nd the last six years, so -- and I have played reasonably well here always. And I really felt like today that shooting 68 or 67, I may have a chance to win. But, it is pretty tough to beat Justin, or anybody for that matter, when they are going out and playing the way he played. So I am proud of myself, the way I played. I am happy for Justin Leonard. Feel bad for Len Mattiace and Lee Janzen and all the rest.

WES SEELEY: Take us quickly through the birdies and the bogey if you could. 4.

TOM LEHMAN: 4, hit a good wedge, about four feet. Made a putt. 6, hit 8-iron after a terrible drive from the bunker, 15 feet and made that putt. 9th hole, got a bad broke ball right next to the drain in the fairway and usually when you get against a drain, the grass is real hairy and thin and the ball was sitting down and I had 95 yards to the pin and I couldn't hole the green. Went over the green made a bogey. But, then I made a good birdie on 11 after a 3-wood, and 2-putts. Made a good birdie on 16, about a 10-foot putt and then hit it about a foot on 18.

WES SEELEY: What were the clubs on 16 and 18?

TOM LEHMAN: 3-iron second into the bunker and just came out of the bunker. Then the last hole was an 8-iron.

WES SEELEY: Questions for Tom.

Q. I know you can't speak for him, but what do you think went through Lee Janzen's mind today; what happened to him?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I would say that is very unlike Lee Janzen. Usually, Lee, when he gets the blood in the water, he is pretty tough to beat. But this course is a humbling kind of a golf course. Especially with the lead and really having it be your tournament to lose that, you can kind of put pressure on yourself. I am not sure what he was feeling, but if you don't get off to a good start, it can really sets the tone for a very frustrating day. And, you know, Lee is a great, great player and especially when the heat is on and if there is anybody who I'd pick to putt a 5- or 6- or 7-foot putt with all the chips on the table, I'd pick Lee Janzen. So, I have a lot of respect for him.

Q. In a similar vein, were you on the tee when Mattiace was having all his problems?


Q. What goes through your mind when you see that happen?

TOM LEHMAN: We were standing on the 16th green when we saw him hit. From the minute the ball hit his club, you could tell the thing wasn't even going to be close. I was just thinking he is probably going to hit a 9-iron which means pitching wedge which helped me get the right club in my hands. Then in the bunker, I don't know what happened there. Maybe it was plugged or whatever, but I could tell it was a real nightmare and you see something like that happen, especially when he is from here and everybody is cheering for him, you feel bad for him because you know how much he wants to play well and how much he wants to have a chance to win coming in the last two holes. But as far as a negative thought in my mind, it didn't produce any. It was, you know, it was only a pitching wedge. If you can't hit that on that green, there is something wrong.

Q. You have won a British Open, Calcavecchia won one, Justin. You are up there at the top of the leaderboard. Is it possible that it is their style --

TOM LEHMAN: We played together -- first two rounds we were paired together it is funny. I like the course because you don't have to aim at the pins all the time. You can aim 20 feet away from the pin and kind of bank it off the mounds to get in there close, the ball runs a lot on the greens and if you work the ball and get it working towards the pin, you can hit some really fun shots. Therefore, I think you can take some of the risk out of the course. You can play a little more conservatively, but yet get the ball close to the hole. That is what I like about it so much. In that way it is like a British Open where the ball is running, the greens are firm, and although, you know, if the greens were ever this fast over in Great Britain they would all have a heart attack.

Q. What is the most impressive part about Justin's game?

TOM LEHMAN: I think his tenacity. I was telling the guys in the TV interviews, being that we play together, I saw how he is playing the first two days and I mean, he was just, you know: Like get me off the course before I hurt myself type thing. He wasn't hitting it very well. He wasn't -- I don't know, he was struggling a lot. And, maybe I am over exaggerating that a little bit but he saved his hide just like I did, the second round, especially, and managed to get out 3-under par for two days and was playing for from his best golf. Although you can see the signs were there that he was starting to swing better and better as the two days went on. But the lesson to be learned, if you just hang in there and give yourself a chance, you don't know what will happen on the weekend and, voila, he shoots 60, whatever, today and wins. It was his determination and he is very poised. He is very mature. He is very tenacious and competitive.

Q. Does he look any longer to you off the tee right now then say Ryder Cup time or last summer?

TOM LEHMAN: I haven't really played with him all that often. But, I think he is definitely hitting it longer. But, with the putting stroke like his, doesn't matter how far you hit it.

Q. Does he have a game for August?

TOM LEHMAN: Does he?

Q. Yes.

TOM LEHMAN: Like I say, if you can putt that well, you can play anywhere.

WES SEELEY: Anything else?

Q. What will you do next week; are you playing?

TOM LEHMAN: I am playing New Orleans.

Q. Do you normally like to do that going into The Masters?

TOM LEHMAN: No. Normally I haven't, but I have been playing so lousy that I wanted to play a lot, try to get some rhythm going with my game. I have really struggled a lot this year with -- really all parts of my game, and I felt the more I played competitively that -- the better chances I'd have rather than sitting on a range just hitting balls and practicing.

Q. Any idea what your problem is?

TOM LEHMAN: (laughs) I think I have straightened out quite a bit of it this week, but, it has been a number of things. Ranging anywhere from bad bounces when you need a good bounce - being last week at Bay Hill, I drove it in the right rough on 18. I was 4-under for the day and just had to lay-it-up left of the green and I hit a little wire thing around the top of a garbage can and bounced 50 yards left out-of-bounds. So that kind of gives you an idea of, you know, like whatever can go wrong will go wrong. That is kind of the way I have been playing. In addition to that missing short putts, hitting a lot of bad shots which are uncharacteristic of me, so it has been a struggle.

WES SEELEY: Okay, folks.

End of FastScripts....

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