Ryder Cup Logo Ryder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image European Captain Ian Woosnam greeted Tom Lehman on his arrival at the Dublin airport. (Photo: Getty Images)

Notebook: Lehman brings big bags of home with him

Part of the reason the U.S. team was late in arriving on Monday, Captain Tom Lehman revealed, was trouble in loading his stash of southwestern snacks. Lehman also said he was inspired by a recent visit to injured U.S. soldiers.

September 18, 2006

STRAFFAN, Ireland (PA) -- Hard to believe maybe, but part of the reason the U.S. Ryder Cup team were late in arriving in Ireland on Monday was tortillas.

Due to land in Dublin at around 8:30 a.m., it was almost midday before their flight from Washington touched down -- and all because of the extra luggage they brought.

When Lehman and his team eventually made it to the K Club, it was inevitable he was asked what exactly caused the delay. The answer, though, was not one that anybody expected.

"Tortillas," he said. "See the look on your face. I love it. Like, 'what the heck are you talking about? Tortillas -- what are they?'

"We live in Arizona. It's the land of the Mexican food. And when we were over here a few weeks ago, it was very difficult to find good chips and salsa," he explained. "I mean, good authentic chips and salsa. So rather than try to find it, we decided to bring our own corn tortillas.

"Swear to God. Three bags, this is the truth. My wife ordered them, I packed them into my travel bag and I tried to move it and I couldn't even get it off the ground. I couldn't even move it an inch," he said. "I must have loaded 200 pounds. Little bags of tortillas, weighing five and a half pounds each. I figured that bag weighed about 500 pounds. No wonder they couldn't move it."

It will not be a problem on the return trip, though.

"A one-way trip absolutely," added Lehman, "because we're going to eat those babies."

LEHMAN PLEASED THAT CLARKE WILL PLAY: Tom Lehman believes that both the Ryder Cup and the European team will be stronger for the inclusion of Darren Clarke.

The Northern Irishman only returned to competitive golf at the Madrid Masters last week after taking time out due to the death of his wife. He was selected as a wild card by European skipper Ian Woosnam.

"I think all in our team are pleased he is playing. It is a better Ryder Cup with him," Lehman said. "There is obvious support for Darren and I am happy he is playing. He is going to make the European team better and the Ryder Cup stronger."

INSPIRATION FROM THE TROOPS: Tom Lehman has spoken about his "inspirational" visit to a hospital for injured American soldiers ahead of this week's Ryder Cup. Lehman and his wife, Melissa, made the trip to speak to troops injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I went there on my own about a year and a half ago during a tournament," Lehman revealed. "I just wanted to say hi to the troops let them know how proud we are of them and their commitment and sacrifice, that there are people back home who are on their side and proud of what they are doing. It had a huge impact on me then and I really wanted to go back again with our official party, my wife Melissa and PGA of America officials, so we did.

"You hear some amazing stories, one in particular this kid was telling me. He was in a vehicle and got shot, they pulled him out of that one and into a second one in order to get him back to safety and that one got hit by a mortar and started on fire," he explained. "The medic who was in the Bradley with him was panicking, he wasn't used to that situation. The thing was on fire and this kid who had been shot had to kind of talk down the medic to get him to open the hatch.

"The guy crawled out and pulled the other guy out and then the thing just incinerated, it was just a bunch of melted metal," he said. "You hear stories like that and then the following line is always, 'When I get out of here I'm going to go back to my team'."

However, Lehman added: "We didn't go to find some kind of special recipe for our Ryder Cup team. We went there because it's the right thing to do as an American and support our troops.

"To me it's just an inspiration," he said. "They were inspired by the fact that we stopped by but all of us who were there were inspired by their stories, their courage, their honor and sense of duty."

Copyright 2006 PA Sport. All rights reserved.

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