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April 17, 1997

Tom Lehman


WES SEELEY: 66, 5 under par for Tom Lehman and one over the lead at this point.

TOM LEHMAN who is leading?


TOM LEHMAN: He finished 6-under.

WES SEELEY: No, he is out there. He is out there. You are the leader. You are the leader in the pressroom.

TOM LEHMAN: I love it.

WES SEELEY: Tell us about your day and then we will go through the card.

TOM LEHMAN: You know, all of us who got to play this morning, I think, are getting a big break. The wind is really picking up really gusty. So first four, five, six holes were pretty calm conditions. About by the time we got to 16 or 17, starting to pick up, but we made it through to the front 9 in relatively benign conditions, I thought. But, I hit it real well. I drove it well; hit a lot of really good iron shots and hit it close quite often. And, I didn't make long putts, but I made 6 birdies all of about anywhere from four to ten feet variety. So, it was a good day.

WES SEELEY: Take us through this good day.

TOM LEHMAN: (Laughs.) You are a smart aleck, you know. (Audience laughter.) Okay. Let me see, first birdie was on 12, hit good drive, good 8-iron about ten feet. Knocked it in. Birdied the par 3, number 14. I hit a 9-iron to about four feet, made that. Then 17 a par 3, hit 5-iron, maybe six or seven feet away, made that. And then 18th hole, I hit a good 9-iron to about twelve feet, made that. So turned 4-under. Par 5, number, 2, I hit it just short of the green, hit a pretty good chip, made 6-footer for birdie. Then I made a bogey on the fifth hole, the par 5, 4-iron for the second shot, just 5 yards short of green, chipped it over the green and then putted back onto the green and missed about a 4-footer, made a 6 from -- could have been maybe 4 strokes from 50 feet, basically. Only hiccup of the day. Made birdie on 8, really good 3-wood, 5-iron for five feet, maybe.

WES SEELEY: 66. Questions.

Q. A lot of talk about the wind out there today. Can you talk about that?

TOM LEHMAN: About the wind?

Q. Yeah.

TOM LEHMAN: It is gusty. And with the trees and the course is so narrow, the wind can't -- it ducks in, sweeps through little gaps -- duck out, I mean. It is all over the place. It is really hard to get a good beat on what the wind is doing. But, generally speaking, when you are playing in a tree-line course like this, the wind wouldn't affect the ball all that much unless you get it up in the air a lot. If you hit it reasonably low, like I do, the wind doesn't tend to do a lot to your ball.

Q. What is it like coming in here this week after Augusta in terms of the type of challenge you have in front of you? And maybe you could review your week at Augusta and how it went for you.

TOM LEHMAN: Well, Augusta I putted just terribly. Shot 73 the first round and didn't hit it very well. But, scrambled pretty well. Then second round, I hit 39 putts, shot 76. Next round, I shot 69 with about 32 putts or 33 putts. And shot 69 again on Sunday. So, you know, started out a little bit weak; finished pretty strong. More than anything, usually you come to this tournament feeling like, you know, a nice relaxing week. It is. You can unwind. But any time you get drilled by 17 shots, you know, it kind of renews your enthusiasm to work a little harder. So, I came in this week with the attitude that I am going to work hard and see if I can win this tournament.

Q. Tom, did you experience any kind of handing over from the year you had last year? A lot of the guys have, because of all of tension and publicity and things you have to do, can you talk little bit that?

TOM LEHMAN: There is only the temptations to -- I mean, there is a lot of things being thrown at you, a lot of opportunities, and you could run yourself ragged chasing after those opportunities.

Q. Which are dollars, right?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, it is basically financial. But, usually, you have to do something to get it. "Come play in a tournament in Transylvania and we will give you $200,000," stuff like that. So, I think you need to really be careful on what you do and what you don't do. You say "no" a lot more than you say "yes." That is the real pitfall you can fall into, is saying "okay, not going to make so much money the next four months, it is scary, so I am going to do it all, and then you wind up playing terrible. So my year, I feel it hasn't been a terrible year. I have played not my best golf, but, you know, I have had some good tournaments. My game, I feel, is starting to finally come together. So I feel like I have played -- the first part of the year 12th on the money list, I think. I haven't played anywhere near my best. So, I feel like there is good things ahead.

Q. Did you enjoy that year?

TOM LEHMAN: Last year?

Q. I mean, yeah, the part of that year. A lot of guys say they didn't really like that.

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I enjoy everything about last year. I didn't play any more or any less last year than I did the year before -- the year before that. My schedule stayed basically the same. So, I didn't feel like I really was chasing after anything that I wouldn't have been playing for anyway. But, golf is a game of momentum and when the momentum is going your way, you are out of the wave, so to speak, smooth sailing once that momentum shifts and you are kind of fighting against it. It is hard to kind of get it back again. I think that is -- I think those guys who have had good years or few good years are riding that wave and they kind of get off; it is hard to get the momentum going again. I think that is the thing that you really need to be careful of is not losing the momentum.

Q. Obviously, you haven't.

TOM LEHMAN: I don't think I have lost it. I feel like I have stayed pretty focused just having been swinging really great. But, as far as, you know, focus and all that kind of thing, I think I am still as motivated now as I was five years ago.

Q. Do you think a little of that comes -- you talked before about some of the hard times you went through to get to this stage. Do you think that was maybe sort of a good base as far as keeping your head --

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think it just helps to you develop a good work ethic. When you are so far down that you want to -- the only place to go is up, you know, you have to work hard and you have to be able to deal with a lot of adversity really. So, you develop a good work ethic and I think that is the one thing that I have carried with me, is I work -- I think I work hard and I work properly.

Q. You spoke of momentum. Off to a good start after today's round. What are your expectations and thoughts going into tomorrow?

TOM LEHMAN: I expect to play well. I feel like I am swinging the best I have swung all year. I am stroking the ball pretty well. And, I am very motivated. This has been a really interesting year, I think. You look at some of the tournaments that I have played in, Steve Jones won by about 30 out in Phoenix. (Audience laughter.) Elkington ran away from the field at THE PLAYERS Championship. Last week Tiger destroyed the field. So, it has been like one of these years where some of the top players have been on their A-game games certain weeks and just made a mockery of the rest of the field. So, any time you feel like you are just getting bowled over, IT is a challenge. So, therefore, I came this week really with high hopes and high expectations expecting to play well.

Q. Is the mindset more that you are kind of glad Tiger is not here or do you want a shot at him right away?

TOM LEHMAN: Like I just said, you know, there has been some great performances this year. I have some good performances last year where I would have got way ahead of the field like that. So, when the top players are playing on their games, you are going to have weeks like that. So I look at this year and I see there has been some great players having some great weeks. Doesn't make them, you know, any better than they were a month ago or two months ago or three months ago, and when I was beating them. So, you know, I look forward to the challenge of improving. I don't like getting beat that bad.

Q. As the wind kicks up here and the greens being as small as they are, does that put a greater premium on iron-play or on the short game?

TOM LEHMAN: Both. Going to miss more greens, just simple as that. You are going to miss some greens. You are going to have to get up-and-down. But, the nice thing about this course is that the greens are small. So, if you are just off the edge of the green, usually you will have a pretty, you know, small little chip shot where you can usually get it up-and-down. But, if you manage your game, you are going to be able to get the ball up-and-down a lot on these greens. The greens are in really good shape.

Q. Around the greens is not too bad? I saw a couple of guys --

TOM LEHMAN: You can get a bad lie going in there, but generally it is not too long.

Q. I know we talked about this a lot, maybe we are belaboring it. The perception of it is, with the media, that Tiger set a new standard. I don't know if the players are feeling that. I know other players that have played well, Steve Jones and Elkington, but the perception is Tiger set a new kind of --

TOM LEHMAN: Raised the bar, so to speak?

Q. Yeah. I just wondered is that how you are seeing it now more than ever or less than ever?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think if you were to just look at -- well, look at it this way. I am not sure how many tournaments he has played in as a professional. It is not very many, 16, 17 something like that. He has won four. Okay. That is pretty good. Not many guys out here who have won 25% of their tournaments. So the thing that makes him special is not the fact that he won The Masters by 12. It is that he expected to win by 12. Okay, he expects to win every week, he plays, by 12. There is not many guys who think that way. So, I think he raises the bar a bit because of that. If you don't have that same mindset, he is going to just kill you. Okay, I personally am not ready to get killed like that every time. So, in essence, he has made me -- I am 38 -- he is 21. I have learned something from him like, you know, if you don't go in expecting to win, don't play.

Q. Talked about the guys running away from the field this year. You did it last year. Is there a point during the week when that happens that you start to think you can do that?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah. It is not the first round, though. It is usually the third round. Usually the third round is the round where if the conditions get a little bit tough, both tournaments, last year I remember I got big leads where the conditions toughened up on Saturday. And, I had really good rounds. You go from being tied for the lead to 6 ahead or 9 ahead or whatever. So, that is usually what happens.

WES SEELEY: Anything else for Tom?

End of FastScripts....

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