Captain Tom Lehman
The summer of 1996 witnessed Tom Lehman winning The Open Championship and Tiger Woods turning professional. Ten years later at The K Club in Ireland, the United States will have Lehman as their Ryder Cup Captain, with Woods teeing it up in his fifth match against Europe.
Woods, of course, has dominated world golf in those 10 years, but being a student of the game, he knows that in those months leading up to his first professional appearance on the PGA Tour in Milwaukee that the dominant force in golf that summer was Thomas Edward Lehman.
For not only did Lehman win The 125th Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes with a breathtaking performance, including a brilliant third round of 64, but he also came within a whisker of capturing the U.S. Open at Oakland Hills in Michigan, where he finished only one shot behind Steve Jones. Moreover, he tied for 18th at the Masters and tied for 14th at the PGA Championship and, for good measure, led from start to finish to win the season-ending Tour Championship in Tulsa by six shots. He was No. 1 on the PGA Tour money list, won the PGA Tour Player of the Year and, momentarily, claimed the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.
"To go from the mini-tours six years ago to the pinnacle, it's just amazing," Lehman said back then. "It makes all the hard work and lean times worthwhile."
It should not come as a surprise that Lehman was able to resurrect his career after losing his card on the PGA Tour at the end of 1985. He had known what it was like to flirt with glory only to miss out. When Lehman was 15 and living in Alexandria, Minn., he felt isolated from the celebrations following his high school's football team win in the State Championship because as the third-string quarterback, he hadn't moved off the bench all year.
With that in mind, and determined to succeed, he played the "world tour" in the late 1980s, teeing up from Asia to South Africa before returning to compete on the Nationwide Tour. It was a good move. He win three times 1991, finished atop the money list and earned Player of the Year honours.
"That got me back on the PGA Tour with a lot of confidence and with the mindset that this was where I belonged," Lehman said.
Lehman, who competed as a player in the 1995, 1997 and 1999 Ryder Cups and won each of his three singles, has continued to win, adding victories on The European Tour at Loch Lomond in 1997, where with only two bogeys in 72 holes he dominated the field - winning by five shots over Ernie Els, seven over Retief Goosen and eight over Pierre Fulke and Greg Norman.
Lehman married his wife, Melissa in 1987, and the couple have four children, Rachael, Holly, Thomas Andrew and Sean. He credits his family with giving him the focus to do well. In fact, Melissa has been more than a wife. In 1998 at the Nissan Open, he enlisted her as his caddie when his regular caddie, Andy Martinez, suffered two broken ribs in a basketball match on the eve of the first round.
Today, Tom and Melissa Lehman are preparing for The 36th Ryder Cup at The K Club, where he first played in 1995.
"It is a thrill and an honour to be The Ryder Cup Captain and for my turn to come in Ireland and on a course which I know is terrific," Lehman said. "The Ryder Cup, to me, is the ultimate golf experience. The things I appreciate most about it are the passion and the enthusiasm and the nationalism and the songs that you hear on the golf course, the flags and people painting their faces. That's what makes the Ryder Cup so special and I can assure everyone that the passion and love for the Ryder Cup is also there amongst our players. They know, and I know, that it's a real challenge to all of us."
Back to Woods - 10 years on.
"I think Tom Lehman will be a great captain," Woods said. "He is a contemporary of ours, I've played with him in The Ryder Cup and I think he's a good choice."Full Name: Thomas Edward Lehman
Birthdate: 7.3.59; Austin, Minnesota, USA
Height/Weight: 6ft 2in / 205lbs (14st 9lbs)
Family: Wife: Melissa (m:1987); Children: Rachael (1990), Holly (1992), Thomas Andrew (1995), Sean (2003)
Interests: Hunting, church activities, fishing, golf course design, all sports
Turned Professional: 1982
Appearances: 1995, 97, 99 (winners)
|Overall||10||5||3||2||Total points: 6|
|Day 1 Foursomes||Pavin/Lehman beat Faldo/Montgomerie (1 hole)|
|Day 2 Foursomes||Pavin/Lehman lost to Langer/Gilford(4 and 3)|
|Final Day Singles||Lehman beat Ballesteros (4 and 3)|
|Day 1 Fourballs||Lehman/Furyk lost to Parnevik/Johansson (1 hole)|
|Day 1 Foursomes||Lehman/Mickelson halved Garrido/Parnevik (halved)|
|Day 2 Fourballs||Lehman/Mickelson halved Garrido/Olazábal (halved)|
|Final Day Singles||Lehman beat Garrido (7 and 6)|
|Day 1 Foursomes||Lehman/Woods lost to Parnevik/Garcia (2 and 1)|
|Day 2 Fourballs||Mickelson/Lehman beat Clarke/Westwood (2 and 1)|
|Final Day Singles||Lehman beat Westwood (3 and 2)|
|US PGA TOUR VICTORIES: Total 4|
|1995||Colonial National Invitation|
|EUROPEAN TOUR INTERNATIONAL SCHEDULE VICTORIES: Total 2|
|1996||125th Open Championship|
|1997||Gulfstream Loch Lomond World Invitational|
|OTHER TOURNAMENT VICTORIES: Total: 12|
|1990||Ben Hogan Reflection Ridge (USA)|
|1991||Ben Hogan Gulf Coast Classic (USA)|
|Ben Hogan South Carolina Classic (USA)|
|Ben Hogan Santa Rosa Open (USA)|
|1993||Casio World Open (Jpn)|
|1995||Hyundai Team Matches (with Duffy Waldorf) (USA)|
|1996||Hyundai Team Matches (with Duffy Waldorf) (USA)|
|PGA Grand Slam of Golf (Hawaii)|
|1997||Skins Game (USA)|
|Wendy's Three Tour Challenge (with Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson) (USA)|
|1999||Williams World Challenge (USA)|
|2000||Hyundai Team Matches (with Duffy Waldorf) (USA)|
|Ryder Cup 1995, 97, 99 (winners)|
|Alfred Dunhill Cup 1999, 2000|
|World Cup 1996|
|Presidents Cup 1994 (winners), 96 (winners), 2000 (winners)|
|1991||Ben Hogan Tour Money Winner|
|Ben Hogan Tour Player of the Year|
|1996||US Tour Money Winner|
|US Tour Player of the Year|
|PGA of America Player of the Year|
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