MORE INTERVIEWS: Regions Tradition transcript archive MODERATOR: Tom, thanks for joining us and congratulations. I know it's been a long day and we'll try to move it along as best we can, but this is your third win this year, five career titles on the Champions Tour in 29 starts, your second major championship. You won also in a playoff last year in Colorado at the Senior PGA Championship, and of course I think you won over a million dollars this year in just your seven starts.
So with that, congratulations, and maybe just talk a little about your day.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, thank you. Obviously I had a very good day. Steady, I think that was it more than anything. I don't think I had any bogeys again today. I think it was 15 pars and three birdies if I'm not mistaken.
So it was one of those days that you want to play the way you want to play when you have to play a good round, just mistake-free golf. The only bad news is I didn't really putt very well. I didn't really make anything at all, really didn't make that many putts all week. It wasn't one of my best putting weeks, but this is a ball-striker's golf course if I've ever seen one and it really suited my game.
MODERATOR: Birdies start at number 4, you had three today.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, three birdies. The 4th hole I hit a 7-iron to about a foot, and then the 9th hole I hit an 8-iron to about a foot, and then the 15th hole, I hit a good 3-wood and a sand wedge to about 18 feet and then made that, so it was really the only putt I made all day long.
I think the key putt of the day, I made a par putt on 10, a par save of about 15 feet; not an easy putt, either. To me, I think that was easily the key moment in the day for me was that par-saving putt.
Q. Tom, how important was it to escape 17 with that par after the terrible tee shot??
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, it was terrible. You know, I was hoping I would have a shot. I got lucky, I hit a tree which stopped it from going deeper into the woods, so then I was able to get it to the fairway where I could hit a 6-iron, I had 180 to the pin, and obviously played it real, real, generic, kept it way right and tried just to make a 5, but that was a touchy time. I didn't have -- it's really a strange week because I did not ever have a really good rhythm with my swing all week long. I hit a number of good shots, but never really felt like I was, you know, my normal pattern. A lot of pulls with the driver and a lot of iron shots that I hung out to the right, you know, but I was always in play, always in play. And the good shots were really good and I was able to score, you know, but that tee shot on 17 was not all that unusual for the week. I hit a number of laid back tee shots.
Q. I know obviously you were focused on what you were doing, but on that first playoff hole when Peter barely missed the chance to win, a few seconds after that he walked over and he was kind of smiling with his son, it was his caddie, and he came in here later and he was talking about how much it meant to have his son with him. I don't know how well you know him, but what did you see with him and that type of attitude, to maintain a fairly positive attitude in what I know was a tough situation for him??
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, he hit a really good putt that first go-round, but it's a real -- I misread it, you know, the first time around myself and felt it was going to break left and it went straight, and thought it was going to go straight the second time and I whiffed it. But he hit a beautiful putt, looked like he couldn't miss, but it didn't break.
But he's always had a good attitude. He's a very pleasant person, very cordial and warm and gracious, really a nice, nice fellow. I'm sure having his son there is special for him. I think he's been caddying for him all year. What a great deal for a father and son to spend time like that together, that's really cool.
Q. On the first playoff hole when you're in the bunker and he has a -- looked like a makeable birdie putt, what's going through your mind at that point and how important was it for you to put it as close as you did and sort of put a little pressure on him at that point to make that putt??
TOM LEHMAN: Well, yeah, it was -- I was in the fairway down below. It wasn't in the bunker, so it was a bit easier. Had a good lie, just a matter of getting the right touch up over the hill and the right pace. I hit a really good chip shot to about four feet pin high, so that situation, you've got to count on the guy making it. You would never expect him to miss a four-footer, and it's happened, you know, but you can't expect it. So you get a beautiful putt, he knew he probably had to make it. He hit a great putt and it just missed. That's a tough pin. He hit a good putt I think the second time around, the one that he missed. Around that cup, it just doesn't want to break. It looks like it breaks, but it doesn't.
Plus, on top of that, it was a real soft and a little bit grainy. The grass, it was a little bit bumpier, that green, than some of the others. It wasn't quite as firm. I think it was a little bit hard to get the ball rolling right, so that was a tough green to make putts on.
Q. How long was that putt on the second hole, playoff??
TOM LEHMAN: My putt or his putt?
TOM LEHMAN: My putt was probably about 20 -- I think it was 21 feet, and I think his putt was probably about seven, is that right, six or seven.
Q. Tom, you alluded in the ceremony to your visit earlier in the week to a disaster-struck area. Could you elaborate a little bit on that and how it, you know, gave some perspective obviously to the golf here??
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah. Well, you know, I think I've seen all the pictures on TV, so I think that was all the real perspective that anybody needs. But we really wanted to just kind of meet some people to find out what the needs are just exactly. You see the little ticker on the TV to send food here and clothes there and all that kind of thing, but to go there and actually talk to the folks and understand what it is, you know, that -- what happens after the Red Cross leaves, what happens after, you know, FEMA is done, what happens after the United Way finishes what they're doing. The majority of the work is still to be done. So I think this first phase of getting people through with their needs met is one thing, then to clear up the debris. The one guy said, we need people with gloves on to come here and work. Bring your gloves, come on and work. It's good to know that because our church, for example, does mission trips to Tijuana to build homes; you know, put that on hold for a while and let's come here.
Q. Did you ever get out your driver??
TOM LEHMAN: Did I what?
Q. Did you ever get out your driver??
TOM LEHMAN: Did I ever get out my driver?
TOM LEHMAN: Today?
TOM LEHMAN: Oh, yeah, all the time. Why? I hit a lot of 3-woods, too. I hit a number of 3-woods. I hit probably 10 drivers and four 3-woods for the day.
Q. Tom, you're solidly atop the Schwab list, the money list, everything right now, three wins. How nice is it to be in that position. I know you'd really like probably to have a monster year out here and you're certainly on your way.
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I've been saying all year, I feel like the last two years I've played extremely well, not much different than I am right now, I just did not get the results that I thought I could get.
There's little things. Played really, really well and little things, you know, the missed putt here, not getting up-and-down there. You know how it is with golf, just the minutia.
This year I just seem to be making fewer mistakes. I'm not shooting myself in the foot quite as much. I've played a lot of rounds this year with no bogeys. I mean, more rounds this year bogey-free than I probably had in the last five or six years combined, so the little things are just a little bit better. The result, it's just amazing to me how the result can be different with just a slight, small little change.
Q. Winning's probably a good pain reliever. You seem to be kind of taking a semi-crouch lining up the putts. How is the knee feeling??
TOM LEHMAN: My right knee is actually fairly pain-free, but I don't have a lot of flexibility with it, not a lot of motion, so I can't go into a crouch. And of course you favor that knee and like my left hip hurts, you know, so that's just the way it goes.
But, you know what, God's been good. I feel like my right knee, which should be getting worse, has gotten better. So my body is way better this year than it was last year.
Q. (Inaudible) the first time you played 18, 72nd hole, and hit a good putt. Did you think that putt was going in??
TOM LEHMAN: No, I didn't hit a great put. As I said, I struggled with the putter all week. When I'm rolling the ball beautifully, you know, I feel very confident. This week, you know, the good putts that I hit seemed to not go in and burned the edge of the line and just couldn't quite get the feel, speed was a little bit off.
So that putt right there, I thought it was going to break left and it didn't, so I would have missed it no matter what, but the speed was off again and it just barely got to the hole. I didn't feel good about the effort.
Q. Tom, can you just kind of describe the first trip here for the Regions Tradition and that experience here at Shoal Creek this week??
TOM LEHMAN: Well, it's been great. We're staying in a house just right down the street hear inside the gates, so we're minutes from the golf course. I think the golf course is A-plus. I've played a lot of golf courses over these years, competitive golf, and I would honestly put this one way up, you know, in the top tier of courses I've played. I've played a lot of Jack's courses, you know, designed, and again, I put this one at the very top two or three of courses I've ever played that he designed. I just can't say enough about how fair and how beautiful, how strategic the golf course is, how it requires good shotmaking I think it's fantastic.
MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you, Tom.
TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.