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June 17, 1995

Tom Lehman


LES UNGER: We're going to ask Tom to go through the 18-hole shot routine for our benefit; then we will get your questions. Tom, if you don't mind.

TOM LEHMAN: First hole, 3-wood, 145 hit. 9-iron; 2 putted from 40 feet. 2nd hole, 4-iron playing about 216 or something like that, just off the edge of the green on the fringes. Maybe about 15 feet from the hole, 2 putts. 3rd hole, hit a good drive; had about 152. I think hit 9-iron about 10 feet; made a birdie. The 4th hole, hit 3-wood; hit a 6-iron; 2-putted from 50 feet. No. 5, par 5. Good driver. 5-iron on the green about 40 feet from the hole; 2-putt for birdie. No. 6 I hit way right off the tee into the jungle grass.

Q. Use a driver there?

TOM LEHMAN: Driver, yes. But had a lie there; might be able to jump it a little bit and hit a 7-iron, that actually jumped onto the green from about 185. Made about 30 footer for birdie. The 7th hole, hit a 5-iron. 30 feet right out of the hole 2 putts. No. 8, in the rough with a driver came on the bank just short of the green; chipped it up about 4 feet, made par. Drove in the left rough on No. 9; had a pretty good lie; hit 8-iron, just about 12 feet left of the hole; 2 putts. 1-iron on the 10th, 7-iron, the back edge 40-footer, 2 putts. 11, hit 8-iron just over the back edge; chipped it about a foot away; topped it in. Driver on 12, 9-iron from 155; hit about 2 feet; made birdie. 3-wood off the tee on 13, 5-iron, 18 feet of the hole 2 putts. 14, hit 3-wood off the tee; had 132 to the pin or something like that; hit a wedge over the green; chipped it up about 10 feet; made that putt for par. Then on 15, hit a 3-wood off the tee into the right jungle grass again; chopped it out left of the green; chipped it over the green; then chipped it on about a foot away; made bogey. 16, 3-wood. Another pretty good 3-wood edge of the rough, sand wedge out of green about 20 feet left of the pin; 2 putts. 17, hit 5-iron, playing about 195 or thereabouts to the back edge about 30 feet; 2 putts there. And then 18, hit a good drive and good; 6-iron from 183; 20 feet passed the hole; 2 putts.

LES UNGER: Tom, before coming on, I looked at the computer, there are only three rounds in sub-par today. There were two one unders and threes. Judging against that, the field is having a lot of trouble but you seemed to have tamed this course a little bit.

TOM LEHMAN: I think you can't tame this course. You can just survive more than anything. I had a good float. I putted the ball extremely well. Hit fairly solid hits; some good iron shots; made some birdies. I think that really is the key. You need to make some birdies out here. As tough as it is, you need to make some somewhere.

LES UNGER: Were conditions worsening, if that is the correct word, as the day wore on?

TOM LEHMAN: I really couldn't tell. It was blowing pretty hard from the beginning. I am not sure if it picked up or not, but, you know, when the wind gets going like this, some of the holes play tougher; some play easier. I felt like some of the longer par fours were playing easier because of the way the wind was blowing. Some of the shorter par fours were playing tougher which is the way this course is meant to be.

LES UNGER: Questions, please.

Q. Did you make much to be about that second shot on 6 and is that -- do you look back and say that was sort of a pivotal shot --

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it was one of those -- the ball was sitting in that wispy grass; it looked like it could jump out of there. Yet you just never know - quite know with that grass to lay it up or hit -- hit with a 7-iron. I think I had 185 to the green, something like that. It looks like it will probably jump; I will get my club on it; we will go up and give it a rip. The ball came out hot and made it to the green and made the putt. (inaudible) I basically stole two shots on that hole.

Q. There couldn't be two more different courses than Augusta and this kind of setup. How do you explain being able to be successful at both?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, I have always felt like it doesn't matter where you play, if you hit the ball in the fairway and on the green and have a good putting week, you can play good golf - whether it is at Augusta or Shinnecock or at Quad Cities or wherever. The fairway is a little bit -- well, I guess saying a little bit narrower is kind of an understatement. There is no rough at Augusta, but if you are hitting the ball well and keeping it in play, you can play anywhere.

Q. Tom, you said the wind is blowing out there the long par fours are playing easier, the short ones are playing harder. How come everybody is having so much trouble and you didn't?

TOM LEHMAN: The 12th hole and the 3rd hole earlier in the week, driver 3-wood and today I hit 9-iron on both of them. So, I am saying it is easier to hit the ball in the fairway; easier to get the ball onto the green. But the holes that are playing into the wind, you know, like for example, No. 8 which was a 3, 4-wood and sand wedge, is now a driver and a 6-iron. And so it is, I think, it is a matter of playing those holes, you know, conservatively, just playing for par and then taking some chances when you get to the easier ones.

Q. Tom, I guess experience counts. Obviously, Augusta - you had a great chance there and obviously didn't quite get there. Will you draw upon whatever you learn from that experience going into tomorrow?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think it will help. I think having won twice since then will definitely helpful. You know, there is still 18 holes of golf to be played and on an extremely tough golf course. I really kind of got into a rhythm early; made a lot of good putts, a lot of good saves, and I just kind of feel like no matter who you are playing, somebody usually gets a good score. They get into a rhythm; they get into the flow; and the course doesn't seem quite as difficult. You know, you may go the next day and not have that, and the course may seem like a bear. For today, at least, it was -- I felt like I was under control.

Q. Tom, Norman and Tway are two under; you are at one under. With these conditions tomorrow, how far back is too back?

TOM LEHMAN: How far back is 2 back?

Q. How far? Is 2 too far back to get into this championship?

TOM LEHMAN: Oh, man, you can make up a lot of shots out here on a windy day like this. I think it is very, very, very easy to shoot 75 on a day like today and, you know, if a guy goes out and shoots 2, 3-under par, that is 8 shots. I think anybody really within seven or eight shots of the lead has a chance to win, if it blows like this.

Q. Tom, do you expect to be leading at the end of this day?

TOM LEHMAN: You know, I really couldn't say. I think that there are a couple of birdie chances coming in for the guys that are still playing. You have to hit good shots, but there is -- you can make birdies. So, I think, you know, whether it is leading or it is not leading. I like my position and I will sleep well on it tonight.

Q. Is there anything you are going to work on before tomorrow, before you tee off, look at your score and what you did and anything that you want to fine tune for tomorrow?

TOM LEHMAN: You know, I really don't feel like I am driving the ball the way I want to. I have hit a quite few fairways but I haven't felt comfortable all week long over the driver. And I like to be able to go out and work on that this evening see if I can get a little bit more comfortable with it. Otherwise I am going to hit a lot of 3-woods tomorrow.

Q. Tom, when you go to the 14th hole; you hit that shot over the green there and then hit that driver next hole very -- way right; another shot way left, were you kind of losing it a little bit? Was the course wearing you down a little bit at that point in the round?

TOM LEHMAN: Not really. The 14 was straight down wind. You need to land the ball short of the green. My ball carried onto the green and then skipped over. So I felt like I hit a pretty good second just to carry too far. The next hole, such strong cross winds, it is hard to hit the ball far enough left off the tee. And I let it get away to the right and into the thick stuff, but I felt like the crucial part of the round for me was 9, 10, 11 right in there. I felt like at that point I was a little bit quick; a little bit, maybe anxious to hit the next shot, and just try to slow myself down, so by the 12th hole I was kind of back into my rhythm again. From that point on, I felt like I was in control even though 15 I made a bogey; I thought it was a good bogey and I went to the next tee feeling like I, you know, didn't really -- it didn't bother me.

Q. Your health scare in the spring, has that completely cleared your mind?

TOM LEHMAN: It cleared my mind. I felt for a while that there wasn't quite something right with me and so when I finally got things taken care of found out you are okay, you are healthy, 100% healthy; get out there and play golf. It was a relief; kind of a load off my shoulders.

Q. Tom, would you talk about the jungle grass; how much of a psychology factor that plays on people who start to lose it because it seems the leaders are finding the jungle grass as many times as you found it; that is part 1 and part 2, the firmness of the chipping areas, has that become a factor now in The Championship since the grass has firmed up?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, that wispy stuff is hit and miss. You can catch a good lie in there or you can catch a terrible lie. When the wind blows, I think it is just impossible to keep it out of that stuff, you know, for 72 holes. At some point in time, you are going to hit it in there, and just like I told my caddie the first round, I think going along I was struggling getting into the jungle a couple times; I told him everybody is going to have some stretches of holes where they have a hard time; where they are hitting a little bit crooked and got to try and survive. That is all you can do. I mean, the wind is blowing; the ball goes crooked; sometimes you go in heavy stuff; you go into damage control mode and just try to get out of it with a bogey, or don't make a double. And as far as the second part of your question, I think the course is starting to play like the USGA wanted it to with the firmer fairways, greens, the chipping areas; the balls running them through a little bit more instead of stopping on them. It creates situations where you have to have more imagination and you have to have more patience, and you -- you really got to use your head.

Q. Tom, how much stronger did the wind blow today and let us say compared to the last two days and has it blown hard all week, do you think? All the other players were prepared for wind like you had today.

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it was definitely, by far, the strongest today. I am thinking that it was probably you know, at least a 2-club wind, sometimes 3, maybe. It wasn't anywhere near the first two rounds, but I think everybody came here expecting this, though, I know that I certainly did. I kind of feel like the first two days were like basically calm. And you know, today is the way Shinnecock normally plays, I believe.

Q. Tom, if the wind continues like it is right now, will an overpar score be likely to win tomorrow?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it is possible. I think on a day like today even par is an extremely good score. To shoot under par, you have got to have everything go your way. The last round of a U.S. Open, it will be very tough, I think, to shoot too much under par today.

Q. Talk a little bit about that pin position at number 10; some guys out there today been playing miniature golf with putting the ball up there and having it roll right back to them in the fairway?

TOM LEHMAN: You mean the one with the windmill out there? Is that what you are talking about? (Laughter). 10 is just an extremely difficult hole, period. And with the pin up in the front, you just can't afford to leave it short. You have no chance to get it up-and-down if you are short of the green. Then on the flip-side, if you hit it long, you can chip it off the front edge in a heartbeat, so you know, me, personally, I just try to put the ball somewhere on the green. I feel like I am not going to put the ball off the green. I may chip it off the green, but I am not going to put it off the green. And it is a scary hole.

Q. Wondering if you had any plans tomorrow morning to go to religious services)?

TOM LEHMAN: I haven't been asked.

Q. Ten years ago or looking back ten years ago success you have had in the last couple of years and major tournaments and overall and now coming in here and shooting, what, some other golfers consider a phenomenal round, 3-under on a day like today, can you just compare, you know, if you were back there looking forward is this unbelievable, but now that you are here, it is kind of happening?

TOM LEHMAN: I know in '86 when I played here I shot 78, 77. I think that is what I shot, anyway, and this is a golf course which is way too much for me. I wasn't playing well, but even still, I couldn't possibly imagine you know, shooting a good score on this golf course. You know, nine years later, I think my game has improved, but experience is a huge factor, maturity is a huge factor, and you know, you kind of get into the thing "I am not playing against Nick Price or Greg Norman or Jack Nicklaus" or whoever. You are playing against the golf course, and that is the kind of maturity I am talking about, and with that kind of attitude, I feel like I can play any course.

Q. Tom, can you speak a little bit about your health? I know you had supposedly a clean bill, but tell us a little bit about that, please, and the ordeal you went through?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it was just I had a polyps in my colon and they were in a stage that it was stage right before what the doctor called invasive cancer and so by removing the polyps, they took care of the problem. And so I have a clean bill of health and I have got to get checked every year for the rest of my life because it was a bit unusual for that kind of thing in someone who is only 36 years old, but I basically am completely healthy and you know, free and clear.

Q. When was this?

TOM LEHMAN: This was in, I guess, late April.

Q. Tom, some of the pros used to complain about the deep rough around the greens and obviously the USGA has made some changes this year; particularly they might have overdone in a way because the balls are bouncing back into the rough?

TOM LEHMAN: No, I don't think so. I think you know, one has to be more of a links golf course, I played the first two rounds with Colin Montgomerie, and asked him what he thought of it. He basically -- I am sure he probably talked to you about it, he felt like it was just like a Links course back home only better condition, and if it's good enough for him it is good enough for me.

Q. How frightening was the colon situation and does that kind of put things into perspective people complaining about pin placement and wind and everything?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, it was definitely worrisome. That is the way the doctor put it. He said you ought to be concerned, but don't worry until we find out exactly what it is. So he came back; told me what exactly it was and what they had done; he said well, you don't have to worry about it anymore, so it definitely was a load on my mind and I was thinking about it a little bit and you know, but I feel fortunate the doctor was very -- he was very strong in telling me that I should count my blessings because this thing started to bleed; that is the only reason we caught it. If it wouldn't have done that and a year would have gone by, it would have been a different story.

LES UNGER: Thank you.

TOM LEHMAN: Thank you very much.

LES UNGER: Good luck.

End of FastScripts....

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