What they said: Tom Lehman

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November 04, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Charles Schwab Cup Championship transcript archive

DAVE SENKO: I'd like to welcome the 2012 Charles Schwab Cup Championship winner as well as the winner of the season long Charles Schwab Cup, Tom Lehman. Just a couple of other additional things to mention. He becomes the 16th different winner of this Charles Schwab Cup Championship. The first player to win consecutive Charles Schwab Cup championships and he joins Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, Jay Haas and Loren Roberts as 2-time winners. With that, Tom, if you could just share your thoughts on what was probably a very special day for you winning here in your hometown and then we will get some questions.

TOM LEHMAN: Yes, thank you, Dave. It was, it was a great week from start to finish. Absolutely I played some of my best golf of the year. I'm very, very fortunate and thankful to be able to kind of bring my best when I needed it. You don't always do that. There is lot of times in this world where you need to play well and you don't. This is one of those weeks where I needed to and I did. I'm very grateful for that. I had a great time, the hometown fans were wonderful. They treated me really well and having all of our friends here and family, you know, was really important as well. So having Jim Flick watching it from home today and yesterday meant a lot. All in all it's a bit of a dream come true week.

DAVE SENKO: Any special pressure when you play, you played in your hometown before in the Phoenix Open and playing here?

TOM LEHMAN: Yes, there is a little bit of pressure. You know, especially when you play well, and you get in the lead, or near the lead, you feel like you don't want to let your friends down and let the people who come out to cheer you on, you don't want to make them go home empty handed. So there can be a bit of pressure that way. But, once again, I proved to myself, just another time, those are all of the kind of thoughts you have to push out of your mind. You have to really focus just on the one thing right in front of you and not worry about the what ifs and what will people think and what if I make a bogey. What if I hit it in the bush. All of the what ifs that crawl into your head, you have to eliminate them. And today I did that really well, I push all of that aside and just played the game and I was very, very pleased with the outcome.

DAVE SENKO: Let's go through your card real quick starting at No. 2.

TOM LEHMAN: I think I'll start at 1. 1, I hit a wedge over the green and then made a really good up and down, about a 5-footer to save par which was a big putt for me to make on the first hole. 2nd hole, 7-iron to 18, 20 feet and made that. Third hole, 8-iron to about six or seven feet and made that. Tenth hole, missed club, I don't know what I was thinking, I had 95 yards, grabbed my lob wedge and ripped it and came up short of the green. Chipped up about six feet and missed it. So I made a bogey. One thing I will say, it was the third bogey of the week. Any time you play a tournament with only three bogeys, you are probably going to have a good tournament. The 14th hole was really the turning point. A pretty mediocre tee shot that hit over the bunker, kicked left and rolled just in on the edge of the grass above the bunker. I was probably a little bit lucky it didn't go in the sand, it would have been a much more difficult shot from there. It was a very tough shot as it was, just kind of choked down a 7-iron and just chipped it down the fairway and it ran up on the green about probably 10 or 12 feet from the hole and made a really good putt. Couples had the same line as I had and his putt didn't break much at all, so seeing his putt really helped me with the read. But that was really a key birdie, that birdie on 14. 15, I hit a good tee shot I only had 235 to the pin. And I decided it was no time to be courageous, better to be smart. I hit a pitching wedge, then a sand wedge and hit a nice little 10 foot putt for birdie. 16, crushed a 3-wood, sand wedge in there again to about ten feet and made that. 18, killed a tee shot, hit a 7-iron just right at the flag. I really wanted to make that last putt. I misread it a hair. But beggars can't be choosers, a tap-in birdie and 65. So when I look at the scores, 68, 63, 62, 65, I don't know that I can play much better than that.

DAVE SENKO: Questions?

Q. Tom, congratulations. I understand that you talked to Jim this morning can you recount that conversation and how much were you thinking about him today??

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I thought about him a lot as we were finishing. I thought about him a lot before I started. I tried not to think about him if I could help it when I was playing. But it's impossible not to. It's impossible not to. The problem is, whenever I started to think about him, it was more thinking about all of the-- I remember specifically one afternoon he and I being out at Coshise, par-5 and hitting 3-woods down the hill towards that green. We probably spent half an hour just back there hitting shots. So those are the kind of things you think about. But the more I thought about that, the more teary-eyed I would get. I decided I can't play this round of golf with tears in my eyes. I have to wait until business is finished. But the last hole, I know that he was probably watching today. I felt quite certain that that was probably the last driver he was ever going to see me hit and I wanted to make it a good one. And the last 7-iron he will ever see me hit, and I wanted to make that a good one. And the last putt, and I wanted to make that putt. I didn't want to make it simply because I want to win by 6, or whatever, I wanted to make it for him. I hit a good putt. You can't always get what you want.

Q. What did he say to you this morning??

TOM LEHMAN: Hey, just go out and be Tom Lehman, which is kind of what he always says. He says, hey, coach, you know what to do, just go out and there and be Tom Lehman. But he is not able to talk long, he is really weak.

Q. What was the yardage on 14??

TOM LEHMAN: I think I had 147 to the front edge or something close to that, plus the pin. It might have been 155, 158 yard shot. Just trying to look down there, get it on the line and let it run down to the green. I hit it perfectly, flew perfectly, it landed in the perfect spot, rolled up perfectly and hit a really good putt. It was a turning point for sure making a bogey there would have been a lot more pressure on me. But that one kind of relaxed me a little bit, making birdie the next hole really relaxed me. I felt from that point on this tournament is probably over unless I do something unbelievably stupid, and I didn't think I was going to.

Q. Your right foot was in the sand??

TOM LEHMAN: Yes, it was down below. I didn't want to hit anything hard. From that kind of lie, if you swing hard, the ball can go anywhere. I just wanted to take a really controlled swing and just try to get it move forward on line, trying to get it on line into the spot where I wanted it to hit it. If I missed the green, I wanted to miss it short and left where I could have an easy chip. Again, there is a lot of luck in this world. Even the best plans don't always come out, but that was one where this came out perfectly and it landed just in the right spot, in the upslope and just the right kick. Everything was just right.

Q. For those of us who aren't familiar with the story, can you recount your first meeting with Jim, what year it was, where you were in terms of golf and your evolution of golf and what he meant to you and in that meeting what he said.

TOM LEHMAN: It was 1990, and I was on the Hogan Tour at the time and really struggling with my wedge game, hitting the ball very well, but driving it great, irons were good. But inside of 100 yards pitiful. I knew Ronnie Black and Andrew McGee, and those guys were all working with Jim at the time. I said, do you think he would see me if I called him? He might, you know. They gave me his number, so I called him. And I just said, hey, my name is Tom Lehman. And you could imagine his response was who? And I said I play on the Hogan Tour, and I need some help with my wedges, can I come up and see you to get some help? He said let me give you a call back, what's your number? He hung up, and he called Andrew and John Adams and said, is this kid worth my time? He said, yes, I think he is worth your time. He is a nice guy, he's a decent player. He is probably worth your time. So he said meet me here on my lunch hour today. So I did, I came over the lunch hour that day, and again the next day, and that's how it all started. It's kind of funny, too, he hit a bunch of wedges and after two days, two hours worth, my wedge game already improved quickly. He said to me, show me what you got with the other clubs? I said no, no, don't worry about that, I hit the ball just fine. I don't need your help there. I think if he were to tell you, on the one hand, he thought well that's kind of presumptuous of this kid. But on the other hand, he liked the confidence. On my end, I was worried that somebody was going to take away my hook. I always wanted to hook it. So that became the mantra over the years because we he gradually had me work from wedges to the rest of my game. It always was, whatever you do, don't ever take me in the direction where I lose my hook. That's why we've never, ever gone in the direction where I would stop, not be able to draw the ball.

Q. You talked earlier about blocking out all of the extraneous thoughts about family and friends, and what people would think, can you say some more about how you actually do that? It's one thing to say, I want to black out all of these thoughts and get back to what's in front of me. How do you stop the thoughts about pink elephants?

TOM LEHMAN: I think sometimes there is different ways to do it. Some days versus other days. There is a song that I like it's called, the Voice of Truth, and without getting too deep in it, what it talks about in the song is how you get all of these voices coming at you. And in golf, it's all stuff like, hey, you're going to chunk it. You're going to snap it out of bounds. You are going to shoot 80. You are going to throw it away. You are going to embarrass yourself. But the song, The Voice of Truth says, but through all of the voices comes the voice of truth. So to me the voice of truth is looking at what you have done in the past. That's the best I way I can explain it. So I look at the time past and when I've been under pressure and playing in pressure situations, there have been very, very, few rounds which I am embarrassed about. Almost entirely I have been able to play under pressure and play reasonably well, if not very well, and especially on the Champions Tour. So to me, that's the thing, there is no need. I haven't chunked a shot into the bush with a 3-wood in 40 years. I haven't duck hooked a ball out of bounds in 40 years, or whatever it might be, so why should I believe I'm going to do it today. So once you kind of give yourself that pep talk, it's like, okay, this is who you are, this is the way you play the game and then you can just go do it. That's the whole lead up to the round for me, just kind of give myself a pep talk to understand, you know, this is who you are as a golfer, now go play like that.

Q. Tom, you typically don't show a lot of emotion out on the course, but at the 14th, I wouldn't call it a Tiger Woods upper cut, but you gave it a little fist pump there, what was going through your mind and what brought that out of you??

TOM LEHMAN: Today I was probably a little more subdued than I normally am. But that was just knowing that that was a huge turning point, that was a huge turning point. I always had this thing about when you make a bogey, the next thing that happens needs to be either a par or a birdie. You don't want to follow a bogey with a bogey at some point. So I made a bogey on 10, so I needed to make a birdie. I don't want to keep on going backwards. So more than anything, that's what that was, the ship is going in the right direction again by making that birdie. I don't want to pile on bogeys upon bogeys. You kind of get to a slide and before you know it, it could have been a really tight tournament.

Q. Tom, you had a lot of things going on today, was Jim the driving force kind of today and for the whole week? And now that you've won back-to-back cups, do you kind of feel like you're the dominant player out here on the Champions Tour?

TOM LEHMAN: Let me answer the second part first, the dominant player, no, I don't. I think there is a handful of guys who are extremely good. I still think if you had to look at the whole season, Bernhard Langer played a heck of a season. He had 17 Top-10 finishes in 21 events, something like that. I don't even know what the Money List finished but he probably won that, too.

DAVE SENKO: He did

TOM LEHMAN: He did. So there is no way you can say anything about being a dominant player. I think there is a handful of dominant players who are maybe above, at this point in time, above the others. But there is too many good players to say that. And in terms of Jim Flick --

Q. Was he the driving force??

TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, he has always done so well. He said just today, hey, just go out and be Tom Lehman, just go out and play, be yourself and play your game. So I played awfully well, so I think there is maybe a little bit of karma there or something. I know that I wanted to play well. I know I wanted to be able to finish this tournament and give him a call and tell him that this ones for you. No doubt about that.

Q. Tom, well done??

TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.

Q. You ended the season with a lot of momentum. You got about 70 more days, how do you plan to keep the momentum moving forward until the start of the season??

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I will probably start today by filling that thing up full of champagne or something. We will start from there. You know, the thing is, we are so lucky to play golf, and we are fortunate to be able to do this for a living, to chase a white ball and call it a job is so much fun to do. And the competition is so much fun. I know, myself, that by the middle of January I'm going to be itching to get back out, so there will be a lot of time spent in the off season, probably in the gym trying to get in better shape, make the body stronger and make it last longer. Find a way to improve. I still feel like my putting can be exceptionally good, like it was this week, but in consistent. I would win more tournaments if I putted more consistently like this. My wedges can get better. There is a lot of ways to improve. I will try to spend the next two months trying to do that.

Q. You kind of broke down after 18 after making the birdie, was that all of the stuff you were bottling up during the round just coming out??

TOM LEHMAN: Yes, yes.

DAVE SENKO: A couple of more questions then we will wrap it up.

Q. I followed you today and your putting was better than good, it was amazing, you made so many putts that you needed to make, except for the one on 10.

TOM LEHMAN: Yes.

Q. What I noticed particularly is that there was a meter to your putting routine. You took your practice strokes, you got yourself settled into the ball and then there was this sort of getting ready to pull the trigger. Can you talk about that, what's going through your mind from the time you are settled over the ball until when you actually pull the trigger because it was like a metronome??

TOM LEHMAN: That's it. That's what I get in and out of. I don't think I'm like that at all. But there is times with you really see the line, and because you really see the line you immediately buy into it and you commit to it. I think that's probably the biggest thing of all. The rest is easier then. The label, all I ever try to do is roll that label straight. Whether I played the ball out or straight, or inside or something, I just simply try to roll that label, make it go straight. When I get into that kind of rhythm, you know, which I think is totally controlled by seeing the line really well, then I putt well. I find there are times when I just don't see the line and all of that rhythm is just shot. I'm just fighting myself and misreading and misreading, misreading and then you start doubting, and those strokes go south when you start doubting. You know how it goes. I don't know why it is that I, at times, I see the line so well whether it's a focus thing or what. I mean, except from the first day, the last three days I was spot on with the line. I missed very few.

Q. Tom, the big perk of this Charles Schwab Cup is the million dollar annuity. Have you thought what you are going to do with it yet??

TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think we will probably start with this Junior Golf Foundation, whatever it may look like to honor Jim. I don't know exactly what it's going to look like. It probably will involve a tournament, a junior tournament. It will be something. I don't know what. If there is money needed to get it going, I'm sure this is where it will come from. We are very involved with the community as you know, Bill. I'm grateful that I get two of these now to kind of keep flowing and it will keep us able to support the things we want to support for 10 or 11 years further than I was expecting to, so that's all good.

DAVE SENKO: Thank you, Tom

TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.

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