April 20, 1997
HILTON HEAD, SOUTH CAROLINA
WES SEELEY: We have Tom Lehman who is tied for fourth, which was sufficient so that now you are -- tomorrow you will be, when the numbers come up, the No. 1 ranked player in the world. That is why we have brought you here.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I figure that is probably why. Sure wasn't because of my play today.
WES SEELEY: What are your impressions of that?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it makes me really happy. I guess you always dream of, at least for one day, having your day in the sun being No. 1, and so at least for -- in the next week that is me. And I have worked pretty hard. That has been a goal to try to get to that No. 1 position. I think at any one point in time, the No. 1 ranked player in the world may not necessarily be the guy who is playing the best at the moment. But over the course of two years, I think the rankings are reasonably accurate, and I have had some good things happen and I feel very pleased and am very gratified.
Q. They said something on TV that, like, not that long ago you were like 586 in the world or something. Do you know what that number might be?
TOM LEHMAN: I wasn't even ranked before 1992.
Q. I mean, that is obviously a hell of a climb?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah. Today was really -- you know, started off thinking about trying to win the golf tournament. After the terrible start that I had, it suddenly became just trying to finish in the top 7. So, it was kind of like two tournaments in one out there. And, it was nice to finish, at least, on a good note. Played the last, I guess, 14 holes 2-under, which wasn't great. But, it was, at least, kind of got a sinking ship going in the right direction.
Q. What does it take to stay there?
TOM LEHMAN: Just have to play really well. You need to win. You need to win. And I haven't won yet this year, and I hope that the second half of the year for me or the next two-thirds will provide some better golf.
Q. A lot of guys don't take a lot of stock in the rankings. How have you felt about them? I know it is an honor. Yet, there has been some disagreements about the length of time used to measure players, et cetera. How have you felt about it?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think -- I am not sure before you walked in -- I was saying that the guy who is ranked No. 1 isn't necessarily the guy who is playing the best golf. A little bit of a lag, kind of takes a while for the rankings to catch up with you. Sometimes by the time you get to your highest spot, you are already kind of declining, so to speak. So I think that last year I was definitely playing as well as anybody in the world. This year, there are a few guys who are definitely playing better. But, the rankings, they cover a two-year period, and on the one hand, you can't -- you can't judge a player just by a few tournaments. On the other hand, two years is a long time. So there is no perfect system. But No. 1 is No. 1, and I am pretty pumped about it.
Q. Tom, Nick didn't really pull away from the field there; no sudden burst at any point during this tournament, he kind of inched his way along. With him being in the lead, is that kind -- with his level of experience, you know that he is not going to go out and completely fall apart?
TOM LEHMAN: He is a tough competitor. When he gets, you know -- pressure doesn't seem to bother him very much. He has no problem playing under pressure. He seems to enjoy it. And, today, this whole week, he has been very focused. You are right, he has been steady, as steady as you go. Just plugging along making birdies. I am really happy for him. He is one of the true gentleman in golf. There is really nobody on the TOUR any nicer. If you don't like Nick Price then you just don't like anybody. I am also happy for Squeeky. I am sure Squeeky was watching, and it's got to be a big day for him. I hope it gives him a boost, too.
Q. At what point did you start watching for the No. 7 position, Tom?
TOM LEHMAN: Oh, you know, after I bogeyed the 4th hole I looked at the leaderboard, see where I stood. I was 8th or 9th or something like that. So, I just tried to from that point on, just forget about everything and just, you know, try to play some good golf.
Q. Do you remember the last time you made three straight bogeys?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it has happened from time to time. Not very often.
Q. Did it happen last week? Last week was a tough week.
TOM LEHMAN: Last week I bogeyed 6, 7 and 8 the first round. And, you know, on good golf courses, you have to hit good shot after good shot after good shot. And, today, there wasn't much wind, but what wind there was, it was in our faces on the first four holes and, you know, I just hit -- I hit a couple of good shots that didn't turn out very good and a couple of bad shots that turned out really bad. Pretty soon you got three bogeys starting the day and you are basically out of the tournament.
Q. Besides the obvious moral lift and the psychological boost of being No. 1, are there any other benefits from it, any concrete things? Will it help you financially with your contracts, that sort of thing?
TOM LEHMAN: You know, only if you maintain it. In golf, you can only be measured really in terms of the long-term and if you are No. 1 for three weeks, that is just a little blip on the radar screen. Greg was, what, No. 1 for 96 weeks in a row? That is significant. So, that is my feeling about it.
Q. The perception of the public might be that Tiger Woods is the No. 1 golfer, just from one week performance. Do you expect him to make a run for that? Does he play enough?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, he has made an incredible run. He is already No. 3. He has only played 16 tournaments, so like I said, it is pretty obvious to me right now who is playing the best golf. It is not me. But, I guess that is why they have the rankings over a period of time just so you can judge somebody over time. Let us not make any bones about it, unless I start playing better, I am going to be off the No. spot pretty quick.
WES SEELEY: What is your schedule? When will you first --
TOM LEHMAN: I am playing at the Byron Nelson, that is the next one.
WES SEELEY: Shall we do birdies and bogeys just as we always do?
TOM LEHMAN: No. That is all right.
WES SEELEY: Okay.
TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.
WES SEELEY: Thank you, Tom.
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