What they said: Tom Lehman

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June 10, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

DAVE SENKO: Well, Tom, congratulations. Before we get started, just some brief details on your victory. It's your first win this year, your sixth career title on the Champions Tour to go along with five wins on the PGA TOUR, and your third major championship on the Champions Tour. You won here a year ago as well for the 2010 Senior PGA Championship. First player to defend a championship Tour event since John Cook did it in '09 and '10 at the Schwab Cup, and you're the fourth multiple winner of the Regions Tradition, joining Jack Nicklaus, Gil Morgan and Fred Funk, and you picked up 670 Schwab Cup points and are now second. Bernhard took the lead today. But with that, if you could just share your thoughts on your win and on defending your title today. You were saying it was a good day.

TOM LEHMAN: It was a good day. It was a good week. I really have enjoyed this golf course, playing this tournament, this city, the people here. Everything about playing golf here has been A-plus, so I'm very, very grateful and thankful to be able to play, and then to win makes it that much more special. I'm very pleased with the way I played. I just persevered. I hit the ball pretty well all week long. (Inaudible.) I was pretty much right on target with my irons all week long, kind of made the game a little bit easier.

DAVE SENKO: Maybe we can go through your card a little bit, you started with a bogey at 2.

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I hit a bad 3-wood behind a tree and made a bogey, it was a bad bogey. But made a turnaround at the third hole, hit two really good woods, a driver and a 3-wood just to the middle of the green about 40 feet and two-putted for birdie. On the sixth hole, a par 5, another driver and a rescue just short right and a good chip to about two feet for birdie. On seventh hole, I think I made about a 30-footer, yeah, 30-footer for birdie on 7. Had a really good save on 8 by the way. There's no marks there, but it was maybe a 12-footer for par that was really pretty big. Then 12th hole, the par 4, about a 30-footer again for birdie. Next hole, 13, really good 5-iron to about six feet and I made that. 16, which was really the shot of the day, hit 6-iron to about eight feet just to the right of the hole and made that for birdie. Three-putted 17 for bogey, which was the wrong time to do that, but it's never really the right time, I guess, but that was especially bad. Then parred 18 for the two-shot win.

DAVE SENKO: Questions?

Q. It was so tight, I guess, when you hit that long putt on 7 and then right away the weather, you had that (inaudible) putt, it started to pour at just the wrong time. How hard -- how much of a challenge mentally is that?

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, you're right, you don't want to give shots back when you've kind of put them in your pocket. I hit a bad iron, you know, with the rain, and then it really started pouring and I had no putt, I had no putt at the pin, I had to go right. So two putts, that was a huge momentum keeper. To make that putt, that might have been the biggest putt of the day, quite frankly. Hit some really good shots after that, after that hit every green, was putting for birdie on every hole, but that par putt on the eighth hole was a really key putt.

Q. Just the whole day it seemed like it went from really tight to seeming like you had it in the bag, but the guys behind you were playing really well. I don't know how much --

TOM LEHMAN: I didn't pay that much attention to the scoreboard. I took a peek every so often. I like to know where I'm at, but I'm not a scoreboard watcher, I want to kind of stay in my own shell and play my own game, and even though Bernhard and Lu, those guys are all playing really well, shouldn't affect me and what I do, so I try to just ignore it and play my game.

Q. What were the challenges of playing in a steady rain? At times it was heavy, obviously, but it was at least steady all day long. Was that challenging today?

TOM LEHMAN: You know, yeah, I mentioned back at the 18th green that I don't mind any really condition other than rain. I don't like playing in the rain, I never have. I'm not sure why it is. To me it kind of makes me really uncomfortable. I feel like I lose rhythm of my swing. I don't know, I can't explain how playing in the rain throws me off. Maybe it's the timing with the caddie and the umbrella and all that kind of stuff, I don't know. Today was a real test of perseverance just trying to hit the ball forward, don't try to bite off too much, don't get too aggressive, just play smart shots, shots that I know I can hit and make a par, make another par, maybe sneak a birdie in here and there. That was kind of the approach that I took with the rain.

Q. Walking to the 18th when you know you have a two-shot lead at that point, obviously that's a little different than last year when you were walking to 18. You can't relax at that point, but is it a little bit relaxing to know that there's a little cushion there at that point??

TOM LEHMAN: There's always a moment of doubt that kind of creeps in. The putt that I had was a long putt and having to go across the slope, so if you hit the putt a little bit too weak or you shove it or something, there's an outside chance that you could hit it down in the (inaudible.) Those are the crazy things that your mind plays games with you about how can I possibly four-putt this. Then you have to pull it back and say I'm not going to four-putt, it's just a 55-foot putt, roll it up there close, two-putt and get out of here with a two-shot win. To me, that's really the essence of golf is dealing with what's right in front of you, knowing that you can do it, hit this shot, make this putt, hit this tee shot, the shot right in front of you I've done before, I can do it again, not think about the results of the what-ifs.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about making this a permanent home for the Tradition. I'm guessing you're a big fan??

TOM LEHMAN: I am.

Q. What are your thoughts about that??

TOM LEHMAN: I think it's a special place, special golf course, special club, great city full of really good people. I hope we do. I'd be totally in favor of this becoming a permanent home and play here every year for a long time.

Q. Can you talk about how special it was to have your daughters here in the Birmingham area??

TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, they're in college so we don't see them as much, so I miss them and they miss me. My wife couldn't come, so I told them, You're in summer school, your classes (inaudible), I'll fly you up for the weekend. I said, You can come up and watch me win. That's what I told them last week. They said, Okay, that sounds good. Realistically, as the week went on, there's a chance that they might watch me win, so we were really happy they could be here.

Q. Do you like having the support system here, having the fans here puts a little pressure on you??

TOM LEHMAN: Having what?

Q. Having your daughters here and having fans here watching you, do you feel that that does put more pressure on you as well as with the rain??

TOM LEHMAN: No, no, I think having people who are on your side is a big benefit. What I took from the fans all week long is hey, we really are thankful that you're here, you're glad that you're playing, we want you to win, go for it, win it again, that sort of thing. When people are on your side -- obviously your family's definitely on your side -- that makes life a lot easier.

Q. What did your girls think of your backwards hat look there??

TOM LEHMAN: I'm sure they thought it was stupid, but you know what? They probably thought I was doing it to be cool or something, but the fact of the matter is when you putt and it's raining, the water drips off the bill onto your ball. It's very distracting, very distracting. The putt that I missed on 17, that's what happened, two drops fell off my hat on my ball in my backstroke and it really just racked me. I should have known better. It's just a way to kind of deal with the elements.

Q. Two years ago Bernhard won the Charles Schwab Cup, you won it last year, now y'all are one-two in the standings. I know golf is a very individual sport, but is there kind of a fun rivalry at all between the two of y'all??

TOM LEHMAN: I have a lot of respect for Bernhard, huge amount of respect. He's been a great player for a long, long time and he's very, very accomplished and he's done so much in golf. On top of that, I look up to him as a person, he's an amazing human being. Anytime you can be in the same sentence or the same paragraph or on the same leaderboard as Bernhard Langer, you've accomplished something, something to be proud of, so I feel good about that.

DAVE SENKO: Thank you, Tom.

TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.

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