October 24, 1996
LEE PATTERSON: Share your thoughts about your round today for us.
TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, us golfers, you're never satisfied. I played, I thought, extremely good around tee to green today and made some putts, and missed a lot of putts, too. It was one of those days I could have easily shot four or five shots lower, which doesn't sound realistic on this golf course, but I had two 3-putts, and missed putts ten feet on the last holes. That's frustrating. But the good side is I hit the ball extremely well.
Q. How did the course play to you?
TOM LEHMAN: The course played -- if you hit it in the fairway you could score on it. The greens are receptive right now. Both the way the wind is blowing, I just feel like it's going to get tougher and tougher as the week goes by if the wind keeps blowing. It can be scary when it gets firm. This will definitely dry out if it the wind keeps blowing like this.
Q. Are you feeling like if you win this you've got a pretty good shot at Player-of-the-Year? Does that mean anything to you? How much does it mean to you?
TOM LEHMAN: Player-of-the-Year means a lot to me. I think it means a lot to most anyone, I would imagine. If you're realistic, I have a very, very outside chance at that. It would be a long shot at best. I would definitely have to win. But Phil has won four times and winning is everything. But I could stake a small claim to have a chance at it.
Q. Is that something you would think about Sunday as far as going for pin or not at the end?
TOM LEHMAN: If I'm thinking about that, I'll probably be playing pretty lousy.
Q. If you're thinking about, gee, second place is no good or something?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, when you sit and think about the tournament and what the tournament could mean, there are some things riding on the outcome, you realize that second place for me doesn't mean anything, other than a nice check. So with that in mind, you go into the tournament with the goal of winning. You always do. But sometimes you're more focused on it than others.
Q. You seem to play the difficult golf courses very well. Do you wish you saw more of these kinds of things on the TOUR instead of the five or six, I guess the majors and this thing and Firestone?
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I always feel that when par is a good score that my chances increase. There's no doubt that a strong part of my game is tee to green. I'm a good chipper and at times I'm a very good putter and at times I'm just an average putter. So I think the courses where you need to shoot way under par are sometimes difficult for me.
Q. Tom, it looks like (inaudible)?
TOM LEHMAN: How many shots?
Q. At least 60, probably?
TOM LEHMAN: 60 shots? Wow.
Q. It was 85, 80 over last year. I haven't totaled them up last year.
TOM LEHMAN: 85 over last year?
Q. Do you attribute that all to the rain softening it up?
TOM LEHMAN: Last year the course was playing so firm and so fast and bouncy, and the greens were like concrete. It was frightening. You had to really, really play a good round of golf to shoot an even par. And today you could get away -- I know I made a couple of birdies out of the rough today, which last year you virtually could not do. If you hit it in the rough last year and had to approach the green out of the rough, you couldn't get it on the green unless you hit a great shot and got a little bit lucky.
Q. What clubs did you hit out of the rough?
TOM LEHMAN: They're wedges, even wedges last year wouldn't stop.
LEE PATTERSON: You birdied 3?
TOM LEHMAN: 3: I hit an 8-iron for a second shot maybe 8 feet from the hole. 5: I hit a wedge from the rough and made a nice 10-footer. I 3-putted the 8th hole from about 30 feet for bogey. But I hit a really nice shot on 9 with a 9-iron about 8 feet below the hole; made that putt for birdie. 10: Hit a wedge from the left rough 125 yards to about 10 feet past the hole and made it down the hill for birdie. I 3-putted No. 13 for a par, which was kind of -- that hurt. Made a nice save on the next hole from the bunker. 15th hole hit an 8-iron about 2 feet for a tap in birdie to go 4-under for the day and hit it close the last three holes and missed. So it was a pretty solid day all around.
Q. Tom, what were those lengths on 16, 17 and 18?
TOM LEHMAN: 16 I had about a -- about a 14-footer. Maybe a 12-footer. 17 was about nine feet, ten feet at the most and the last hole was about nine feet again. So, it's the range where they're in the gimmees, but if you're putting well you're going to make at least half of them.
Q. Did you layup on 5?
TOM LEHMAN: I hit a 3-wood off the tee.
Q. Have you played much golf with Tiger Woods?
TOM LEHMAN: Never.
Q. Has he surprised you what he's done the last month or two, that he could take this TOUR by storm?
TOM LEHMAN: Take it by storm. No, I can't say that I'm surprised. I've always felt that if you looked at his record before he joined the TOUR it wasn't really all that impressive. He didn't really ever have that many good tournaments on the TOUR. And I attribute that directly to the fact that it's difficult to come out just once in a while; play a tournament and go back to school. You go from economics to The Masters and go back to biology, that's pretty rough. It's hard to get a rhythm going. It's difficult to play well. I thought once he got out here full-time and was traveling and playing, and was just doing this completely focused on the TOUR, that he was going to be the Tiger Woods that he was on the amateur circuit, which is a dominant player. With the courses that we play towards the end of the year, some of the easier courses where the par 5s are pretty short and reachable, and like in Vegas and Disney, that really plays into his strengths. So I felt like he was going to do very well.
Q. Were you curious today what he was doing? Did you look for him on the scoreboard?
TOM LEHMAN: Not really, not really. Everybody knows that he's a super player. He's only 20 years old but he's already -- he already has the experience and the poise that a veteran has. So everybody knows he's a great player. Everybody expects him to play well, I'm sure. So you go about your business and do your own thing.
Q. Do you think it could be resentment? You think of you out there trucking all these many Tours over the years, do you just have a little feeling there of who is this new kid? He's out there just a few tournaments and he has millions and millions of dollars? It took you a long time to get to millions of dollars. Do you think of that?
TOM LEHMAN: I'm a lot of millions short of where he is right now (laughter.) Everybody has their own story. And mine is a little bit different than his is, definitely. But I wouldn't trade my route for anything. So I think that it's great that he's able to do what he does, and I think that my life is a lot better for what I had to do.
Q. Is he chasing you guys or are you guys chasing him?
TOM LEHMAN: That's a really good question. I firmly believe that Tiger may be pushing us - that's the way I feel. I feel that guys have worked very hard to get where they are in golf. Greg Norman has worked very hard, Freddie, Ernie Els, everybody has worked extremely hard to get where they are in golf. And so when you have a new person come along who is an obvious can't-miss-superstar, I think guys work that much harder because they don't want to give up what they've achieved, their spot, what they've earned. Nobody wants to get passed over by a new person. It may come to a point where this new person is just so talented you can't help it, it's unavoidable. Until that happens, I think everybody is going to do their utmost to see that they keep moving forward and improve and stay tough.
Q. Is that good?
TOM LEHMAN: I think that's great. I think it's great because you get the same players week in and week out, it seems, playing well, and you tend to get a little blase about golf. It's the same guys. And no one is really stepping forward and being a dominant player. People are very comfortable. I feel that that's just the way it is. You get comfortable where you're at. So a new challenge -- I firmly believe that somebody is going to be a dominant player again, winning eight times a year, and a couple of majors a year. It may be Tiger or somebody else that's motivated by Tiger to go out and do it. I just think there's a great -- golf has a new generation of stars. Guys like Phil and Ernie, Steve Stricker, David Duval, Justin Leonard. There's a couple of guys in Europe who are excellent players, and now Tiger. I think these guys who are all in their 20's, these guys in the next 15 years are going to set the world on fire.
Q. Where does Tom Lehman fit into that?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think my best golf is ahead of me. So I see it as a challenge to work harder. Like I say, nobody wants to be yesterday's news. And as long as you're playing golf, you want to do your best.
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