An Interview With: CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN
September 19, 2006
GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, everyone, as you can see we have Captain Tom Lehman with us. It was interesting, four members of your team talking today, you seem to have generated great camaraderie for this team, and as Scott Verplank said, 12 little kids in the team room. Is that how it comes across to you, as well?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: 12 big kids, 12 big kids in the team room, definitely. We've had some fun, and we're enjoying it very much. We had a great time last night, had a great time on the course today. I would say our team is very much a team.
GORDON SIMPSON: You feel them growing, can you?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, they are already doing it. Our team is already there, they are definitely into it.
GORDON SIMPSON: How about the atmosphere, do you get a sense of it?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: It's nice on the golf course. We talked yesterday about how it's nice to finally be here and get this thing going. I'm sure everybody is looking forward to Friday. I know our guys are looking forward to Friday, I'm looking forward to Friday and just enjoying the process. This whole process is something that you should enjoy; you should savour every moment, and our guys are doing that.
Q. The pairings you put out today, some were as we expected. Do you think you will keep those throughout the week in terms of Tiger and Jim, and Chris and Phil?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I think they have a very good chance of playing some golf together (laughter).
Should I expound on that?
Q. It would be nice.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: We had some good groups today. They moved around. They played nine holes with one guy, nine holes with another guy. Tomorrow they will have different things going on out there. Tomorrow we'll play alternate shot. But there was no secrets. I think we all know that there's a good chance those guys will play together.
Q. What was the chips and salsa like last night?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Are we back to the chipping? We've got to start a new controversy.
Q. This has got another day to run.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Really? No, we didn't even dive into them. We had a good old Irish barbecue last night. We did that and everybody had a good time, sang some songs and drank some Guinness, and the tortillas are still in their safe traveling containers.
GORDON SIMPSON: Apparently the singing, you are pretty good at this. Can we have a rendition?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I am not singing for you (laughing).
Q. Can you elaborate a little bit on the singing and the stuff that went on last night, your take on it, and sort of the sidelight to that, what do you think all of the bonding stuff and the mood you're trying to create translates into when Friday starts?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I guess first of all, the idea of saying the bonding would be inaccurate, because I think our team was already together, so it's not a bunch of guys trying to bond. It's a bunch of guys and our wives trying to have a good time here, plain and simple, which is what we did last night. We had a great time.
When were here a few weeks ago, we had this great group of musicians that played for us. It was a bunch of guys, mostly a bunch of people who refused to open their mouths and sing a note. But once you get our wives around, that changes things entirely. And so, you know, for example, Amy Campbell, I mean, she is phenomenal. She has a recording artist type quality voice and she can really sing and she sang for us and we all got involved. But the musician that were playing made it very, very easy, really talented, and we all enjoy what they do and what their abilities are. It was just a good time.
Q. From the things you're saying, is it accurate to say that you believe the golf is taking care of itself and what you need to do is to make sure that your team is ready emotionally and enjoying what it's doing; is that accurate? Is that what you're trying to tell us?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I'm not really sure I totally understand the question. What I'm saying is that, you know, we're here to play golf and we're having a good time. We will be ready to play on Friday. There's no question about that.
Once 8:00 Friday morning comes around, our team will be ready, they are prepared, they are excited, they are looking forward to it. We are just enjoying every step along the way.
Q. You talked about having the players interact with the crowd and signing autographs. It sounds like they have been doing that. What did you do out there as far as anything beyond signing autographs and do you feel that the Americans have started to win over the crowd here?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, I would say that the Irish golf fans are some of the very, very best in the world. I know they have always appreciated when I have played here and I know they appreciate our team being here. I don't think it's a matter of winning over the crowd as much as our guys showing respect to them, and I think the crowd obviously respects our team, as well. I saw our guys signing autographs. I saw David Toms after the round half an hour signing autographs and Phil Mickelson, 20 minutes, and I saw Tiger Woods walking from the driving range to the chipping green signing kids' autographs. To me it's just a mutual thing.
Q. Can you clear up Scott Verplank's health status?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, Scott's been 100% for, I don't know, a couple weeks now. He obviously had that injury at the Firestone tournament and took some time off to let it heal. You know, with things like that, it's just simply a matter of giving it time. Inflammation goes down, soreness goes away, you get mobility back and you're good to go. He's 100%.
Q. You've played on some of these teams with Tiger. What are you seeing from him this year that you didn't necessarily see before, if anything, in terms of what he's doing in the team room and interacting with the team?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I saw him sing, and I can tell you right now, he can't sing. He cannot sing. But he's like most of us, he can't sing, either.
Q. But in terms of the role he's taking, what are you seeing from him?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I think all you need to do is watch him. I'm sure you have. I'm sure you've been observing Tiger.
Q. We'd like to do that at some point.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You can't do that?
Q. Can we come to the team room?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Oh, you want to observe there, do you? No, that one's off limits.
Watch him on the golf course, watch him on the driving range. I was watching him today from up on top of the hill on 11, and Brett Wetterich made a 15 foot putt for birdie and he walked over to high five Tiger and Tiger gave him a shove, like, "get out of here, what are you doing," just that kind of a feeling.
That's the kind of gesture, the kind of things you do when you feel like you're comfortable with other people. He's gone to great lengths, I think, to make other people comfortable with him, and to make them and vice versa. So it's just been, he's been doing a great job.
Q. I noticed there was a lot of guys on your team and on your support team who have a strong faith, and I wonder if there's any religious element to the preparation for this tournament. Are you having any prayer meetings or anything like that?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: No, not at all. That topic doesn't even come up. In fact, there's guys of faith who are in our group, that's just the way it is, but we're not holding Sunday school. We're not singing, you know, hymns and things like that.
Q. Do your marquee players, do Tiger and Phil necessarily have to win four or five points for you to win?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: It would be helpful. It would be very helpful if they could do that.
I think any time your star players get their points, it's very positive motivationally for the team. A point by Tiger Woods, or a point and a half, it lifts the team when he gets his points. It lifts the team when Phil gets a point. It makes everybody more confident. So I think it's very important that our top players play as well as they can, and if they do that, they will get their share of points.
Q. Do you see anything different in his preparation for this Ryder Cup, different than prior Ryder Cups, when his record has not been so great?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I think there's one significant difference that I've seen so far and something that I've worked really, really hard to do. If you notice, Tiger is gone, he's not on the course. We're out here early, we practised, he hit balls, he putted, he chipped. 1:30, he was gone. He has from 1:30 to 5:30 to work out and have some downtime. It's always been something that he's wanted to do in Ryder Cup is have some time where he can relax and have time to himself. He'll go back to the hotel and we'll work out for a couple of hours, take a nap, go hang out in the team room, but have some time where he can kind of exhale. I think that's very important.
Q. Everybody has that time or just Tiger?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: No, everybody. Our practise schedule is really 7:00 to 1:00 today and tomorrow, and from that 1:00 time to whatever the obligations are this evening, the guys are free, free to practise, chipping, putting; if they want to play a few holes they can; if they want to go back to the hotel and take a nap, they can. It's the idea of having team practise and then outside of team practise time is time to do what you need to do.
Q. And secondly, the song, can you tell us what song Tiger tried to sing?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: No, I've never heard it before, and I couldn't recognise it when he was singing it, either, so I'm totally lost (laughter).
Q. Other than a couple of what seem like fairly obvious pairings, for the foursomes what's your philosophy on, you know, who you're looking at as far as style of play, and how hard is it to put together kind of the foursomes because of that, because you have to look at style and things like that?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I think it's a matter of looking at the course and seeing what the course is going to offer you, and there's definitely I'm not going to get into it too specifically, but there's definitely some there's definitely a strategy to it. So I guess we'll find out on Friday.
Q. Ian Woosnam said the Europeans played for a little bit of money today. What did the U.S. play for?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: They each put in a hundred bucks, played a skins game. I think Stewart Cink got most of the money, so he's the fat cat right now.
Q. I asked Chris DiMarco if he could cast modesty aside and state what he brought to the team, and he did it very well. Would you tell me what he brings to the team, please.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, he brings a very strong mind. He's very mentally tough. When the pressure is on and the situation gets bigger, his game gets better. He's a great teammate, phenomenal teammate. He is everybody's friend, everybody's buddy. He's great in the team room.
But his passion is what he brings. He's so passionate about the things that he's passionate about. He loves football, he loves the Florida Gators, he loves his wife, loves his kids, loves his friends, loves the Ryder Cup. I don't think there's a tournament in the world that he would rather participate in and win more than this one. His biggest asset, aside from his great golf game and ability to make putts under pressure, is his passion, the intangible, no doubt about it. He makes everyone around him better.
Q. You talked about the importance of stars playing well. Can you identify players on The European Team you most want to beat?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: (Laughing) repeat that one again. I didn't hear that quite right.
Q. Tiger Woods winning a point is worth a point and a quarter, so is beating certain players on The European Team worth more than beating others?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: A win is a win no matter who you're playing. A win is important and it doesn't matter.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
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