October 26, 1996
LEE PATTERSON: Very good round. Do you have a couple of comments about today.
TOM LEHMAN: Well, what can you say about today? Today was one of those days that everything went right. I hit the ball very well from the very beginning and I made a nice birdie on the first hole, which is always nice to do, to make a birdie before I make a bogey. And today it happened that I didn't make any bogeys at all, and made a bunch of putts and shot a really good score.
Q. Would this be one of your best rounds, ball-striking and everything, this year?
TOM LEHMAN: This gets right up there. I think this round, the third round at the U.S. Open this year, third round at the British Open, the third round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock, those are all probably the best rounds I've ever played and this one is right in there with them.
Q. Well, all third rounds?
TOM LEHMAN: All third rounds, yes.
Q. How many times have you had 9 shot leads after 54 holes?
TOM LEHMAN: Is that a joke? Never, never. Not even in high school, I think, or junior golf.
Q. Tom, were you aware of the record on 18, you were within a shot of the course record?
TOM LEHMAN: I have no idea what the course record is even still. 63, is that what you're saying? I had no idea.
Q. Tom, I know you've come up the -- the way you've come up, contrasted by let's say another renowned player of the past couple of months. The point being that I wonder if you know how good you are yet? Do you think of yourself as good?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, in all honesty I don't think I give myself enough credit. I've been hearing that my whole life, really: you're a lot better than you think you are. And so confidence has always been probably the weakest part of my game. And as my confidence has grown, my game has gotten better. Good question.
Q. Tom, what did you learn about playing with a large lead that last day at Lytham, what did you take away from that day?
TOM LEHMAN: There's a couple of things. I know on Sunday at Lytham I hit a couple of clubs off a couple of tees that I didn't hit the rest of the week. For example, I hit a driver off the 6th hole on a par 5, when I had been hitting 3-woods all day long. So one thing is you've got to stick with your game plan. The second thing is, you can't afford to back off at all; you need to keep on moving forward. And it's sometimes difficult with a big lead to get into that aggressive mindset where you want to start making birdies and keep making birdies; it's easy to try to protect what you have. But I would say I'm an aggressive player. For me to play cautiously is probably unwise.
Q. Did you ever think to yourself out there, God, I'm in a zone?
TOM LEHMAN: No, I don't. There's just some - I don't know - who knows why it is, that at times you get feeling like if the yard's 107 yards, you can hit is 107 and a half or 106 and a half and you know exactly, I've got half a yard short, I can tell, and you have there's other times when you just can't feel that kind of feeling. And today was one of those days if you told me to hit it 109, I'd hit it 109; if you told me to hit it 130, I'd hit it 130. That's a nice feeling to have out there playing golf.
Q. Did you feel that way on the practice tee even before you had the birdie on the first hole?
TOM LEHMAN: I did. I played well at the World Matchplay over in London and played extremely well. And even though I didn't win, I came into this week with some really positive thoughts because I hit the ball and putted basically pretty well.
Q. Have you spent additional time or more time this year working on your putting?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah.
Q. Because you've always felt like that was something that needed the work?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah. Speed. I've worked on my speed a lot trying to get the right speed on the greens. Every really great putter that I know, I think of Loren Roberts or Phil or Crenshaw, the guys who can really putt, Brad Faxon, speed it. And you watch their speed and it's perfect every time. And I've just realized that you can miss your line, but with the right speed you still might make it. So I've worked very hard on my speed.
Q. When Andy worked with Johnny Miller, he was really zoomed in on hitting it 107 or hitting it 130. He was supposedly given yardages and half yardages, that's how precise Johnny was?
TOM LEHMAN: He always tells me a story about you're playing a par 3, the pin is in the back of the green, junk over the green, and there's in between a 5 and 6-iron. And Andrew said he talked him into hitting a 6-iron, and he hit it 8 feet short of the hole. They got up and saw it was 8 feet short and Andrew felt pretty good, but Johnny was mad: wrong club. Because when Johnny hit it the way he wanted; he expected a tap in. Andrew is used to that stuff, and he doesn't get it that often from me. But that's the kind of control that Johnny Miller had.
Q. What's it like to have a 9 shot lead going in the final round? Is it a piece of cake, is it scarier than having a 3 shot lead, because if you lose it it will be worse or what's it like to have it? (Laughter.)
TOM LEHMAN: Get that guy out of here (laughter.)
Q. You know what I mean.
TOM LEHMAN: I know what you mean. I'm not really sure. I haven't really thought that much about it. All I know is that I have a lot of leeway, if you want to call it that, especially if the weather gets bad. It's going to be tough to make up nine shots. Not that it's not possible, I've played rounds before with other players where I've shot 65 and they've shot 78 and it's a 13 shot swing, so you never say never. If I do go out tomorrow and play my game and play like Tom Lehman can play, it's going to be extremely tough, if not impossible, to pick up 9 shots.
Q. Do you want bad weather or the same weather or do you care?
TOM LEHMAN: It doesn't matter one bit.
Q. Would you I like a later tee time?
TOM LEHMAN: No, I like that early one. There's one thing, I was talking to Mike Moore - he used to pitch for the A's - and he pitched in the World Series and have a night game, and wait around all day long for that 7 o'clock shot. And it's no fun waiting. It's the same thing in golf, if you're playing in the last group at this tournament or the U.S. Open, it's a 1 o'clock or 1:30 starting time, you're like a caged animal waiting to get going. I think 8:30 is a great time.
Q. What time will you get out here tomorrow morning?
TOM LEHMAN: I'll get out here probably about 7:15 or maybe 6:15, I'll probably forget about changing my clock, an hour early.
LEE PATTERSON: Go over your birdies for us real quick.
TOM LEHMAN: I hit an 8-iron the first hole, to about 12 feet, and Vijay made birdie already, and I made a putt on top of him, which was a nice way to start the day. The 5th hole hit a good drive with a 3-wood, I hit a good pitch about 8 feet past and made that putt coming back. The next birdie, I guess, was the 11th hole, hit an 8-iron again about 15 feet left of the hole, made the putt. I made a great up-and-down on 12, I guess, hit a bad drive, had to lay it up, and hit a sand wedge from a hundred yards to about 12 feet, made that putt for par, it was a big putt. The next birdie was the 14th. I hit a 5-iron there to about 30 feet and made that. Then the 15th hole, which has been good to me all week, hit an 8-iron to about five feet there and made that putt. 17, hit 107 yards to the pin and hit a pitching wedge three feet just left of the hole and made that. And I guess that takes care of it.
Q. Ever in danger except for that one save of making --
TOM LEHMAN: Actually 10 and 12, I missed the green on 10 to hit a really good pitch to about maybe 6 inches, just for a tap in. Then 12 made a good save. Other than that I think it was pretty routine.
Q. The chance to be Player-of-the-Year and win the money title, do those motivate you here?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, they do, I'd be lying if I said they didn't. But it's not something I want to think about right now.
Q. Thought about it a lot at the beginning of the week?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, coming into the week, yeah. But as I said yesterday or the day before, you think about those things, and then you try to forget about them as soon as you've got everything in perspective. I knew what I had to do coming into this week, and you don't always do what you have to do, a lot of times you know you have to play well and you don't. But I knew coming into this week that I had to play well. And so I'd rather just play tomorrow and see what happens, and whatever happens after that you live with it.
Q. Are you pretty much done after this tournament for the year or will you continue to play some?
TOM LEHMAN: No, I'm playing four more tournaments.
Q. What are you playing?
TOM LEHMAN: I'm playing the Grand Slam, the World Cup, the Million Dollar and then with Duffy Waldorf and the Diner's Club matches.
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