CHARLES SCHWAB CUP
Lehman visits Capitol Hill before gearing up for final two
October 25, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- October 25, 2019
- Tom Lehman met his sixth President this week. (Getty Images)
Tom Lehman has met six Presidents of the United States in his lifetime, but no meeting was perhaps more important than the one he had this week.
Lehman, the 12-time PGA TOUR Champions winner, is an ambassador for Fight Colorectal Cancer. He was on Capitol Hill Tuesday with the organization as it continues to push for the passing of “The reducing barriers to colorectal cancer screening act.”
Colon cancer rates have gone up 10 percent and it’s the second-leading cause of death-by-cancer in the U.S. but it’s one of the most treatable, too.
Lehman knows this intimately. He’s a survivor.
The 60-year-old didn’t speak publicly about his cancer diagnosis until 2018 – 23 years after it was first detected and treated.
“The reason I never talked about it was because I was of the opinion that what I had was like the common cold. The people who are really sick are those who are battling Stage 4 and having transplants and surgery and chemo and radiation. Those are the people who are truly sick,” says Lehman. “But what I realized is that early detection is saving lives. I got lucky. I started having symptoms way before you should have and it saved my life."
“You don’t have to wait for luck.”
This week marked the first time he had been inside the congressional office buildings, although he had met former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, both George W. Bush and George Bush Sr. in the past (he never met Ronald Regan and has yet to meet Barack Obama).
The bill, he says is a ‘no-brainer.’
President Donald Trump, Lehman says, was very interested in the context of the bill and says he promised to look into it further. There are 300 members of congress who have signed off on it already, it’s just a matter of pushing it across the finish line, Lehman explains.
Although the President has an opportunity to sign an executive order to make a bill become law without both Congress and the Senate’s buy in, Lehman says he’d rather all levels of government work together to have it pass.
“But if the President gives it a push, that makes it important,” he says.
And no matter your political stripes, Lehman – who has met four Republican Presidents and two Democrat Presidents – says the honor is still important.
“I never thought I’d meet anybody,” says Lehman, laughing. “To me, whatever your political belief is, to be with the President of the United States, in his office, and to see the government and where all the power in this country is located… it’s just a sensational experience. It gives you a huge appreciation for where it works and the bigness of the job.”
But while Lehman was rubbing shoulders with those who have big jobs to do in the United States, he himself has a job to do on the course with two tournaments left in the PGA TOUR Champions season.
He won the season-opener at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai and has four other top-10 finishes on the season, including a T5 at the PURE Insurance Championship – the last time he teed it up.
Lehman hasn’t played since late September as he’s enjoyed a fall filled with family obligations, like watching his youngest son play high school football. He also had an important duty the week of the SAS Championship, which caused him to miss that week – he was asked to perform a wedding for the daughter of some good friends (“I was more nervous doing that than I am playing golf, I’m telling you that,” he says).
Lehman says his season has been a good one overall.
“One of those years where I’ve played well nearly every week, by in large. I may not have gotten the results I was hoping for, or not even close to the results I was hoping for, but it has been a steady menu of really solid play,” he says. “It makes you very hopeful for the future when you play that well and what you could have done quite a bit better even still.”
Despite Lehman playing in likely his final Open Championship this summer, it doesn’t appear as though he’s ready to slow down his schedule any time soon.
He’ll be inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in November (he’s spent 30 years of his life in Arizona after spending 30 years in Minnesota. He was inducted into that Hall of Fame much earlier in his career), an honor he says was very humbling.
But that doesn’t mean his career is coming to a close.
Lehman has won at least one tournament on PGA TOUR Champions five out of the last six seasons and was knocking on the door at a couple of majors this year.
“When you’re excited about playing you know you have chances, you know you have opportunities, you know you still are in the mix and the competition hasn’t gone beyond you or past you. You can still get in there and fight it out with everyone else,” says Lehman. “That makes it fun.”
Whether it’s on the course or off, Lehman is having an impact.
His efforts with Fight Colorectal Cancer will hopefully pay off in the form of apassed bill by this time next year. He says he’ll continue to play as long as he’s competitive. And he’s been able to watch three children grow into young adults while keeping strong relationships with friends and family.
And the best part about his life at 60 is that he is still living it.
“Don’t depend on luck like what happened to me,” says Lehman, reflecting back on the medical scare nearly 25 years ago, but looking ahead to what’s still to come.
“Anticipation and enthusiasm and hope for the future is so much about what makes life exciting. It keeps you working. All those things work together. I have a great job, a great family, and great friends. Truly I have so much to be grateful for.”