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October 25, 1996

Tom Lehman


LEE PATTERSON: A couple of comments about today.

TOM LEHMAN: It was windy, very windy. The course I thought played very difficult, and I feel very fortunate to have played so well. It's not always easy to get into a good rhythm on a windy day. And today I managed to do it starting on about the 7th hole. Things went well from about that point on.

Q. The wind was the same direction as yesterday, it was just stronger?

TOM LEHMAN: Exactly, yeah. It seemed like it was a lot stronger at times, but when the wind blows the same way for a few days in a row, you learn how to play the course a little bit and know what to expect. What's difficult is if the wind switches and you get a whole new golf course, that makes it a whole lot more difficult.

Q. Is there any experience at the British Open that you had that helped you today with a field this tough, conditions this tough? Any lessons learned, so to speak?

TOM LEHMAN: I think when the conditions get this difficult it makes it a lot easier just to focus on what you're doing, one shot at a time, the old cliche. Because if you don't, you're liable to do anything. You almost forget about what everybody else is doing; you forget about where you stand in the tournament: You're trying to survive one shot at a time. For that reason playing in bad weather can sometimes be to your benefit.

Q. Talk about today up to 17, before 17.

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I got off to a shaky start. I was struggling a lot the first four or five holes. I was one over. And then chipped in on 7 for birdie, which was a big turning point, I thought, in the round. It kind of got me back to even par, a little more positive about the way the day was going. Made a bogey on No. 8, but that was like a par 4 anyway, today. Made a good par 9 which was like a birdie the way the holes played. And made four birdies in a hole. I hit good shot after good shot after good shot and made some good putts. And about the time I got to 15 I hit it close again for a tap in, so that the back 9 was really going well. The 17th hole I tried to hit a 3-wood off the tee, which I normally do, just put it on the ground, and made a mistake. That green is real sandy; it's not real firm. And I chunked it. So I was kind of lucky to make a bogey there. But made a good par on 18 to finish on a good note.

Q. What was the approach at 18?

TOM LEHMAN: I hit a 5-iron on the second from a real severe downhill lie, which is a tough shot, under the best of circumstances. And nearly impossible, I thought, with the wind blowing.

Q. Sand wedge --

TOM LEHMAN: A little sand wedge, made about a 5-footer.

Q. Vijay said he didn't think there was any lead big enough on this golf course?

TOM LEHMAN: He might be right. It's a scary course. You need to have so much patience on this golf course, and if you lose it you're going to start making bogeys just left and right. You could make 18 bogeys out here, it seems, when the wind blows if you don't watch out. In that respect he's correct; no lead is big enough if you lose your head. The flip side is, if you keep your head, a nice lead is a very comfortable thing; it's a bit more difficult for the other guys to do significant scoring for conditions like this. It can be your friend or enemy, all depends on how you deal with it.

Q. With the rain and the high winds that are predicted over the next two days, does that help or hurt anybody's game and how does it affect your game?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, if you're playing well, it can help you, I think, especially if you can kind of get comfortable with the conditions you can shoot a good score. It's tough to do, but you can do it. On the other hand, if you get a little bit out of sync, it's going to be really a long day for you. I know for me in my position if I can stay comfortable and stay kind of in my rhythm, bad weather could help me. But if I get out of my rhythm, that's going to open the door to almost anybody.

Q. What's your general attitude or strategy playing with -- you have a four shot lead, with a big lead or does it change at all?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think Helen had the question about the British Open. I think the one thing that will help is trying to make a 4 shot lead an 8 shot lead. It would have been awfully nice on Sunday at Lytham to go out and shoot 66 instead of 73. So I think if I can get into a mindset of shooting a good score and trying to extend, I'll be just fine.

Q. I think you said earlier in the week at Lytham you stepped on that golf course and had a real nice feel. Any similar feelings here?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I like this course more and more. Quit laughing back there. (Laughter.) I've never really played that well here before, either of the two tournaments I've played in. And I found the course to be very difficult. I still think it's difficult, but I feel like I'm playing a lot better than I have in the past when I came here. I forgot what your question was, I'm sorry.

Q. You said early in the week in Lytham you had a special feeling.

TOM LEHMAN: So, I guess I had a good feeling. I was playing well starting this week. And I was hoping to fall in love with this course more as the week has gone on.

Q. Tom, what would it mean to you to be named Player-of-the-Year?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, that's to be -- it's voted on by your peers, and I think more than anything that's what's so special about it. If the other 200 guys on the TOUR were to vote and say "Tom Lehman was the best player in 1996," that's a pretty big statement. I know I've been to the awards ceremony and seen all the guys - Freddie and Norman and everybody else accept that Player-of-the-Year award - and thinking, man, it sure would be nice to go up and get that big crystal bowl. So it would mean a lot. And so I definitely know what I have to do.

Q. When you get off to a start like you did today, do you say I've got to get one back to kind of get back on track?

TOM LEHMAN: I don't think you'd say I've got to get one back on this golf course. You need to say, I've got to stay patient; I've got to keep my head. And if something good happens, you do get one back, you feel really good about it. You can't really try to force too many things out here. You need to put yourself in position, and then just almost hope for the best at times.

Q. What kind of goes through your mind as you're churning off birdies and you look at the board and the whole field is backing up?

TOM LEHMAN: It's a good feeling. It's nice to see everybody going backwards when you're going forwards. Let me retract that statement a little bit. It's nice to -- you know that when the conditions are this difficult that birdies are going to really make a statement. And so it's nice to be making birdies when it's tough just to make pars. So you see the field backing up and you're still going forward it's a real -- you kind of get an adrenaline rush going, you get really pumped up.

Q. Keep yourself from getting too jacked up, though?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, that's sometimes a problem. But today was only the second round, it's not like it was on Sunday and you're coming down to the last few holes with a lead like that. But I think you realize that it's the second round but every shot really counts, every stroke matters, and if you can keep on making birdies when everybody else is making bogeys, that's going to be a real benefit when it comes down to the last few holes on Sunday.

Q. Tom, how much shot-shaping are you doing out there, lots?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, you need to on this course at times, definitely. There's times when you really need to kind of work the ball against the wind. There's times when you need to work it around the dog-legs. The course turns a lot and you need to be working the ball left to right quite a bit off the tee, especially. I'm finding myself off the tee trying to work the ball a lot.

Q. Tom, on 17 it appeared you didn't tee the ball up. What was your thinking there?

TOM LEHMAN: I never tee up my 3-wood on the tee. And the wind kind of gusted up as I was over the ball, and I could hear it picking up pace. And it was kind of a sandy lie to begin with and I just hit a bad shot.

Q. Talk about the sand wedge at 18, how was your lie?

TOM LEHMAN: It was sitting down, but it was kind of where you can play like a bunker shot, kind of open the blade up and flop it up. It was against the wind so I knew I could get it fairly close. I hit a pretty good shot, four and a half feet or so and I made a nice putt, which I thought was a big putt, you never want to bogey the last two holes when you're playing so well.

Q. Were you ever tempted to wake that guy up on 18?

TOM LEHMAN: I wanted to go stick some grass up his nose or something like that (laughter.)

LEE PATTERSON: Go over the birdies for us, real quick. First the birdie on 2.

TOM LEHMAN: I hit a 9-iron, missed a 5-footer for par. Chipped in for a birdie on the 7th hole from off the back edge, it was only 20 feet from the hole. Had a nice lie and had a good chip and went in the hole. I bogeyed the 8, which was playing very difficult. I left it short and left of the green, had a bad lie, chipped it up about 12 feet and missed it. 10th hole, hit a 9-iron for 130 yards to maybe about 8 feet and made that putt. The next hole I hit an 8-iron for 160, went about ten feet past the hole and made that putt. 12, hit a great drive, had 145 to the pin, a 9-iron, maybe 10 feet again just below the hole. Another good putt there. And the par 5 had a good drive with a 3-iron, slightly heavy, just short of the green, chipped up about two and a half feet and tapped it in for birdie. Then the 15th hole had a really good drive just through the fairway, 8-iron from 142 yards I think it was, about a foot. And then 17 hit a bad tee shot, chipped it out, wedged it out, two-putted.

Q. How many times are you using drivers, Tom?

TOM LEHMAN: Ten times, which is more than I was playing in the past. The ball is not going quite as far. The wind is stronger. A lot of the holes, like the 9th hole for example, which I hit a 1-iron or 3-wood, the wind is blowing so hard that you have to drive it.

End of FastScripts....

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