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June 16, 1996

Tom Lehman


LES UNGER: I know you are a little disappointed. I'd like you to make a general comment or two. Then we need to go through the card before we ask for questions.

TOM LEHMAN: First of all, I want to congratulate Steve. I think to come back from what he has had to go through the last four years with that injury, being out for three years and now winning the U.S. Open, I think that is an absolutely remarkable story, and I am very happy for him and for his family. He has worked hard to get back, and he showed a lot of guts today, and I am very, very proud of him for doing that. I thought I played well enough to win. The thing, the bounces didn't go my way today, I don't think. I felt I hit a lot of good shots that didn't pan out real well. Didn't take advantage of a couple of opportunities, but all and all, I thought I played pretty well and just didn't get that ball in the hole quick enough.

LES UNGER: Take us through your card.

TOM LEHMAN: Started off, drove it in the rough on the first, hit a flier over the green, made bogey. It wasn't a real great way to start, but the second hole I hit a really good drive and 3-iron from 220 right at the flag, ended up ten feet just to the right of the hole, hit a good putt there and it lipped out, so I tapped in for birdie. Hit it close on number 6, about -- hit 9-iron about maybe, twelve feet, made that putt. 7: I hit another good shot, hit a 9-iron again about maybe ten feet above the hole and made that putt. Made a great save at 9 to turn 2-under. 10: I hit a 3-wood in the rough, had to lay it up short of the green and made bogey there. I think the turning point of the round was the 12. I hit a really good drive, hit a driver for a second shot that ended up in a really bad spot in the back bunker, and I had to play it out sideways, then had to putt it up over the ridge and 3-putted, made bogey there, which is to bogey a par 5 on the back 9 in U.S. Open is a pretty tough pill to swallow. But then made some good up-and-downs coming into the last hole. Again, I thought I hit a very good drive. I just hit little cut. It was about maybe 10 yards to the right of that bunker out there and ended up in the bunker. I am not sure, must have had a hard bounce left, but I thought I hit a good drive and had to pitch it out short. Couldn't reach the green. Hit a little 60 degree sand wedge that caught just a hair heavy, so I didn't checkup, then had what, that 15-footer down the hill that I missed. It got down to the last hole. It was basically just Match Play. I had the honor. I felt if I could put the ball in the fairway it would be an advantage to me. I was surprised where the ball ended up.

LES UNGER: Questions.

Q. You hit driver off 18?


Q. Davis was just in here saying that he hit 3-wood so the same thing wouldn't happen to him that happened to you.

TOM LEHMAN: He hits his 3-wood about as far as my driver, so you know, I kind of -- I was thinking back to, you know, Augusta a couple of years ago, and you know, I hit 1-iron off 18. If I had the chance to do it again, what would I do? I just thought it was time just to go ahead and take the bull by the horns, try and carve that driver around the corner and hit a 7 or 8-iron to the green if possible. And like I say, I made really good swing, hit a really good shot, but the ball didn't end up in a good spot, you know. But I guess all you can ask for is to hit the shot that you are picturing, and I felt like I did.

Q. You hit a real good ball on 15 that was just in there in front of the bunker?


Q. You hit the ball through on 18. Were you kind of -- were you pumped up coming down the stretch? You were hitting the ball real hard.

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, hitting it solid. The drive on 18, I think it must have gone about 300. I just nailed it. Shot on 17, I hit a 6-iron. It was playing 200 uphill, and you know, I just hit it just dead at the flag. It was just one of the best shots I have hit in my life. And you know, to have it end up where that did with a really tough pitch was a surprise. I thought I had a putt for birdie there, but the greens were getting firmer as the day went on -- certain greens. Some of them were getting harder and harder, and I made a good par there. So going into 18 tied, that is kind of what the Open is about. You want to have a chance on 18 going down the last hole tied and especially a great finishing hole like that.

Q. How difficult is it at the U.S. Open Championship to be, as you say, "Match Play" psychologically walking with the man that you are playing against literally for the last 12 holes?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it is -- up until about 18, I really didn't pay attention too much to that. I knew that if I could just do my own thing, and you know, if I can get -- my goal was to shoot under par for the round today. That was if I could shoot under par, I felt like it would take a lot to beat me. So when we get down to it, it was only 16, 17, 18. I saw that Davis had bogeyed to finish one under and Steve was -- he bogeyed 17, and so now since it is he and I, so the Match Play thing really kicked in, I thought, on 18.

Q. Saturday leaders are very often not Sunday winners. What makes it so difficult to go as a leader in your last round and how did it affect you today?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, each round is a new day, and I don't look at the final round as anything different. I try to do the exact same thing on Sunday that I do on Saturday that I do on Friday that I do on Thursday. I felt like today that I played very well. Whereas yesterday a lot of the putts were going in, a lot of the bounces were going right. Today it wasn't happening. And you know, also the added pressure on Sunday, I think, being the last group at the Open is a little bit more pressure, you know, but I think as you get older and more mature as a player, you are able to kind of push that out of the way and just go ahead and do your thing.

Q. Are you and Steve close? You're both in the same town, and did you help him out during the rehab emotionally or as a friend or have you got a great story for us?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, we are good friends. You would have to ask him if I helped him out. I feel like I tried to support him through the years when he wasn't playing, because when I got back out on Tour in '92, that is when he got hurt, and so he is one of the guys that I was looking forward to getting back out here with, and he wasn't here. And so it was you know, it was a tough time for him to sit around. And so I felt like, you know, I just called him. I said "I am praying for you" or "don't give up, keep working," just from time to time. I am not sure how much it helped or what, but I tried to be a friend.

Q. Steve, you got a chance to talk with him a couple of times, and on 18, what were some of things that you were saying back and forth after he almost holed the second shot? And perhaps did you say something to him after he had lagged his putt down to the hole?

TOM LEHMAN: No, I really didn't say much. I told him he hit a good shot for his second. He knew the situation. I knew the situation. It was basically, you know, he was in control, and I was pretty much trying to, you know, trying to scramble around and make something out of it. But when he won, I gave a him a hug and told him that he played great and he had a lot of guts and showed a lot of heart and he deserved to be champion.

Q. This is the third time you have gone the battle and come down to 18. Can you somehow try to compare the three? I know they are all pretty different, difficult tournaments, but is it easier to handle now than it was in '94 and I mean is it tougher to handle now because this one was maybe the closest of the three?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, it is tough for me because, like I said, I felt like I played very well, played well enough to win. And you know, when it is your time to win, you will win, and you will get one one of these times. But you know, you get a little frustrate and a little disappointed. You want things to happen. You want to be able to take that silver trophy home and stick it on your mantel and just stare at it for the rest of your life. You know, it is tough. But I have had a great support team behind me. I have got a great wife. I have got a great family, three great kids. I have got a fantastic caddy. I have got a great coach and Jim Fleck. I have got great parents. My whole life, I just I have great friends. So I feel like what I have going for me all the super things that God has done for me, that I will have more chances.

Q. Could you talk about the sand shot at 12 and what you tried to execute and maybe weren't able to do and the one on 18? You changed clubs. Did you decide you couldn't do something there, also?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, the shot on 12 was -- it was such a severe downhill lie, that I couldn't go at the pin. There was no way to hole the green from that situation, so I tried to play it out to the side. Wanted to get it further into the green, you know, where I would have a little flatter putt and the ball kind of checked up a little bit and didn't get too far into the green. I was kind of protecting it from getting it over the hump and going away. Then I had a tough 2-putt from there and 3-putted it. 18, it was just -- I went in there with a 7-iron. I had 166 to the front edge, and you know, was right under the lip and basically trying to decide what club -- what was the longest club I could get it out of the bunker safely, still hoping to get to the green, and I realized there was just no club that I could get to the green. Longest club I could possibly hit was going to be a 7-iron, but with the uphill lie and the big lip, it was going to be going straight up in the air. It was going to be short. So I took a club that would for sure get out of the bunker, would for sure put me on the fairway and give me a nice yardage for a little 60 degree flop shot up there to the green or a chip shot or a pitch shot, whatever you want to call it.

Q. That second shot at 12, that was a driver?


Q. Did you put it where you wanted it to be, or were you trying to split the bunkers there?

TOM LEHMAN: It ended up, you know, cutting right at the flag and I hit driver there the first round on the green. And you know, my thinking was basically that you know where the pin was. It's a tough shot from 100 yards back for me, so I wanted to get it up there, either just off the edge of the green somewhere or in a bunker where I could have a good chance of getting it up-and-down rather than pitching, or you know, splashing it out of the bunker than anything else. And it was just, you know, kind of unfortunate that I got in the spot where I couldn't play it at the pin.

Q. In the bunker on 18 you put the 7 iron away and hit what?


Q. That was one of my questions. The other two are the lengths of the par-putt on 17 and the putt on 18.

TOM LEHMAN: It was probably four feet on 17. And 18, I'd say, well, you know, between -- I'd say 15 feet, 18 feet right in there somewhere.

LES UNGER: Anyone else? We appreciate your coming by. Continued good luck. (APPLAUSE)

TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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