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July 27, 2012

Tom Lehman


SCOTT CROCKETT:  Tom, thanks, as always, for coming in and joining us.  It's a funny game of golf, isn't it.  66 yesterday, not particularly pleased with it; and 71 today, delighted.  Just give us your thoughts on the differing conditions you've faced over the first two days here.
TOM LEHMAN:  You're right, to your comment, I don't think you're ever happy in golf when you shoot the worst score you can possibly shoot, which was the case yesterday.  But you're always really pleased in golf when you seem to shoot the best score you can possibly shoot and that was more the case today.
I made a few mistakes out there but by and large, I really got the most I could get out of that round and really pleased.  The wind was very difficult.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Can you give us some indication of how different it was over the two days, any sort of clubbing?
TOM LEHMAN:  I can give you the 14th hole was playing straight into the wind.  They moved the tee way forward, so there was two bunkers on the right that were like 245 yards off the tee.  And I just crushed a driver and I was 20 yards short, so that kind of gives you an idea of how strong the wind was.  That tee shot went about 220, maybe.
So the course is starting to play more like a links course, like it's supposed to play.  There were a few soft bounces but it is drying out and the ball is getting a bit jumpy and bouncy and it's getting more like we are used to.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  I think you said when you saw Gary Hallberg's score, "Did he play the par3 course."
TOM LEHMAN:  Yeah, I thought he was across the street here.  Amazing score, 63.  I think the wind is a bit stronger now than it was even when we started at ten o'clock.  But it was not a mild, gentle breeze to start.  It was a strong wind to begin with.
So when I saw his score going on the board, that was to me very astounding, like, wow, how do you do that today.  Gary Hallberg is a bit of a character, so nothing surprises me with what he might shoot.

Q.  Speaking to Tom Watson before he went out, he mentioned Hallberg's score and he said, "Wonderful, he's a great player, but he doesn't know it."
TOM LEHMAN:  (Laughing).  Is that what Tom said, "He's a great player but he doesn't know it?"
He knows it sometimes.  I would add to what Tom said.  Gary is a great player, and there are times he realises how great he is and that there are other times when he doesn't.  He's immensely talented.  I think anybody who knows golf knows how incredibly gifted Gary Hallberg is.
I think Tom's comment would be that if he only realised it consistently, he would be better off.  So I'm happy for Gary.  He's a very close friend of mine and really, really like him and enjoy his company and really happy for his good day.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  You would therefore enjoy playing with him tomorrow, Tom, if you got the chance; if Bernhard dropped out of the picture.
TOM LEHMAN:  Bernhard had a tough final round at the U.S. Senior Open, so I'm hoping he plays more like Bernhard today, which I'm sure he will.  Again, he's a really tough competitor, and I think there's a guy who totally understands how good he is and I expect him to have a good day, even in the wind.
The wind is funny.  When it's blowing real hard, it's easy to kind of get wrapped up with, wow, the wind is just gailing, it's going to be really tough out there.
But if you kind of break it down into just one shot at a time and knowing you can deal with every single shot, even though it is windy, you can get yourself around, because it's easy to get yourself all worked up and somewhat psyched out by the wind just before you even start.  So you have got to be really patient out there.

Q.  You said it's starting to play more like a links course.  Can you talk about the difference of what today was compared to last week down at Lytham where the conditions were so much different?
TOM LEHMAN:  Yeah, Lytham, I've never seen a links course play like that at all.  I, personally, at my age, need to get a little bit of roll.  And when you get none, when you don't get any at all, the course plays very long.  But just to back up shots on the greens and to hit shots to the fairways that just barely bounce, that's really strange.  It's hard to adjust, actually.  It's hard to kind of pull back and hit shots and fly them all the way to the hole.
I felt like yesterday, you could fly your ball nearly to the hole.  But today, there are shots that are much firmer, and if you can't do that, you begin more letting the ball bounce and roll.  It's kind of the way the course is meant to be played.  So in some ways, it makes it more difficult when it won't bounce; when you catch a bad lie in the rough, and you need the ball to bounce and roll, and it doesn't.  It's frustrating.

Q.  The forecast isn't great for the weekend.  How tough could this test get?
TOM LEHMAN:  What is the forecast?

Q.  Some more wind, a bit of rain and generally rubbish.
TOM LEHMAN:  Normal stuff?

Q.  Yeah.
TOM LEHMAN:  Well, it's a right good test.  The course is set up extremely well.  The tees are all in good spots.  The condition of the course is great.  There's not a huge amount of rough, and still, it's tough to putt a good score on the card when the wind blows.  But it's a survival test.
But there's opportunities.  There's holes where the wind is your friend and you can take advantage and hit some shorter irons and then you can take advantage of that and make some birdies.
You know, but if it gets even worse and wetter and colder and windier, the scores, they are going to go way up.

Q.  Gary spoke about coming down the last few holes today, he left a few putts short and said he was choking.
TOM LEHMAN:  (Laughs).

Q.  Do you think he's the type of player, a long way to go obviously but is he good enough to stay in that position?  Saw you laughing when I said that.
TOM LEHMAN:  Well, because he's so honest about everything (chuckling).
He is good enough.  Yeah, he absolutely is good enough.  You know, nothing he would do on a golf course would surprise me because he has that kind of talent.
So the fact that he was nervous, I mean, he's leading the Open, Senior Open, and I'm sure he was feeling a little bit of stress about that.  I think as anybody would, who has not really been in position all that often.
He has not really been in that position that much over the last couple years, but like I say, he's very gifted at hitting a golf ball.  He's got a beautiful, fluid swing and hits it very solid, good putter.  So I think he'll be fine.

Q.  Why didn't it happen to Gary?  When he came on the scene, he was regarded as the next superstar.  Why didn't it sort of work out for him?
TOM LEHMAN:  He's a very‑‑ he's kind of a right‑brained guy, a real creative, artistic kind of a guy who for some reason tinkers a lot with his swing.  Usually you don't get that combination.  Usually guys who are that creative and artistic and right‑brained, they just play by feel and they just wing it and they go.  But he tends to be concerned about whether his swing is right and how it feels or how it looks, or whatever, and so he messes around with it.
So kind of as a testimony, too, to how good he can be, is that he can play so great with so many different kind of swings.  He'll do one thing one day and another thing the next and another thing the one week and next year do something different.  Just a very kind of fly‑by‑the‑seat‑of‑his‑pants type of approach to golf.
I personally wish he would just forget about his swing and just play and don't tinker so much.  But I think that's the issue is if he could do that, I think he probably would have played some better golf.

Q.  (Where would you rate his talent)?
TOM LEHMAN:  Oh, he's way at the top.  Way at the top.  With this group of people out here, this age‑‑ I think about guys plus or minus five years, college players, amateur players, pros, there was Hal Sutton, there was Bobby Clampett, there was Gary Hallberg, there was Couples, and they were the elite of the elite, at the very, very top above everybody else.  He was not just a good player; he was the best.

Q.  I assume you've told him many times that you wish he would just stop tinkering and get on with flying by the seat of his pants, as you say.  Have you tried to tell him that?
TOM LEHMAN:  Oh, yeah.  He listens for a couple days.  (Laughter).
But he's a real funny guy, real funny.  When you think about a person as a golfer, as a human being, he's such a pleasure to be around.  That's why nothing surprises me.  He could go and shoot 63 two more days, literally, doesn't matter what the weather might be, that's the kind of guy he is.  He can do some amazing things.

Q.  And do you think that if you two would be playing together in the final group that that would maybe help him in terms of the nervousness, maybe having you beside him might make him relax a wee bit more?
TOM LEHMAN:  I don't know.  I don't know that who you play with makes you less nervous.  You can still be nervous but be more comfortable with your nerves.  I think that‑‑ even for me, for me to play with somebody who I'm very comfortable with makes the pressure a little more‑‑ even though it's there, it's more settled.  So I think it's a good thing.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Thanks for your time, as always.  Good luck tomorrow.

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