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June 13, 1994

Tom Lehman


LES UNGER: This is our debut at this particular Open, Oakmont. And for the record, before we ask Tom Lehman to answer a question or two, this will be his sixth open, last year at Baltusrol he was tied for 19th. The year before at Pebble Beach, tied for 6th and first played in the Open in 1986 and we know he has been having a terrific year and perhaps you want to say a few things about your year-to-date and Oakmont, and then we will get to some questions.

TOM LEHMAN: Thank you. It is good to be here. I think it is a privilege to play in the Open, especially at a course of this caliber. It is a phenomenal golf course. I think the way it is set up, it's definitely going to bring up the best players to the top. So I am looking forward to playing. It should be a great tournament.

Q. What about your year?

TOM LEHMAN: About my year?

Q. Yeah.

TOM LEHMAN: I have been playing really steady golf from the very beginning of the year. I think, I have been in basically among the top 20 every week with the exception of a couple of tournaments where I missed the cut. I played pretty well. Through and through, had a couple of weeks where I played extremely well, and feel like if I continue the way I am playing that I will do okay.

Q. Tom, I just wanted to ask you about 17; I saw you out there. They moved that tee back to the original spot, and I noticed you had a wood club of some variety which you put in the bunker. Your strategy on that hole, do you think it is going to change depending on the outcome of the event or --

TOM LEHMAN: Well, today it was a little windy; couldn't get there. Obviously, I probably would never hit a driver with those conditions, but if the wind is favoring right to left, I know that I can clear the bunkers and so I may hit a driver. It sets up pretty well for a guy who draws the ball, and if you miss it left of the green there, it is not a big deal. Just can't hit it to the right. So if I am driving the ball well, I may give it a try.

Q. Tom, a lot of people are mentioning you as a favorite this week. Do you think your game suits an Open better than, say, Augusta National?

TOM LEHMAN: I don't think so. I think my game is more suited to Augusta. I am a pretty straight hitter, but not, you know, not a real, real straight driver like a lot of the Open courses require. So I feel in order for me to play well, I need to be driving the ball like my very best. And although I did change drivers, I am hitting this driver a lot better than I was with my Taylor Made metal wood and more suited to this kind of play. So, you know, who knows? I have been driving it pretty well the last month, so if I drive it well, I will do pretty good. I will do fine.

Q. Two questions. Number one, has the bus driver arrived and number 2, how did The Memorial change you, if at all.

TOM LEHMAN: Well, The Memorial, I think everybody out here obviously wants to be a champion. They want to win, and a lot of guys feel like they are capable of winning, but until you actually go out and do win, you always have that element of doubt. It is winning proof to me that if I hit four good rounds that I can win, basically I feel that-- I feel I know that when I am playing my best golf I have a chance to win no matter where I am playing. I think even though maybe U.S. Open course isn't the best suited to my game, I know if I play my best golf here I am going to have a chance, so I think there is probably 60 or 70 guys who are playing each week who feel that way, and as long as you feel you have a chance to win, I think it is a real positive thing; you can play your best.

Q. Just how hard is this golf course, Tom, what do you think it's going to be like if it doesn't rain?

TOM LEHMAN: Well, if it gets drier and harder it's going to be difficult. But you don't need to hit a lot of drivers. I went out today; maybe hit four drivers only, and you know, I know that I can hit get by hitting 4-woods or 3-woods or 2-irons, something like that. The drier it gets, the more it is going to be that way, the more 1-irons or 2-irons off the tees, but just if the greens get real baked and real-- if the greens get real baked and real hard, you know, that it is going to be tough to get the ball close and tough to shoot a low score.

LES UNGER: Did you keep track of putts in your round today.

TOM LEHMAN: No, I didn't. I 3-putted a few times. The green is in great shape. As long as you can put yourself below the hall where you can make a decent aggressive putt, you can make some putts.

Q. How about the rough, did you drive a few because in the rough -- just to see what it was like and the deep stuff, how about that?

TOM LEHMAN: I hit a couple of shots into the first cut. You can hit the ball easily to the green from the first cut. The second cut, depends if you get lucky, you can advance it to the green. Otherwise you just kind of hit it out. It is not miserable. I have seen a lot worse. At Shinnecock a few years ago, the rough was a lot worse than this and Pebble Beach was a lot worse. You can hit some spots where it is pretty miserable.

LES UNGER: Anyone else?

Q. Is it a fair setup, Tom, do you think the course sets up fair?

TOM LEHMAN: I think it is. I really enjoy this style of golf course. I have read a lot about it in the golf magazines last couple of weeks and how it used to be just more like a links type course and bunker -- the way it kinds of flows; fairways kind of curve and turn and they slope, and I just think it is fun. It is fun as long as you are hitting it straight. But I just think the whole setup of the course, you can bounce it up onto the greens and in a lot of spots, you know, you can get creative out there. Just cannot hit it in some spots plain and simple. Bounce it in on 2 for example, you are done.

Q. Where else can't you?

TOM LEHMAN: I played only one round, but anywhere above the hole, no matter where it is, you are going to have a tough time. There is a couple of short hauls where if you miss the fairway, for example, that is the first little short haul, number 2, you have got to hit the fairway on number 2; if you miss the fairway, you are going to make a bogey probably, and the next hole is deep; bunkers on the right side, church pew-things on the left; you miss the fairway there, you are going to make a bogey. Just things like that, I think that is what makes it so good. You need to kind of make a game plan once you hit it off the tee and you maybe better off hitting 5-irons as opposed to 8-iron to the green.

LES UNGER: Tom, thanks. Hope to see you back later this week.

TOM LEHMAN: You too, thanks.

End of FastScripts....

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