Tom Lehman readies for role as Ryder Cup Vice Captain
It was the most nervous Tom Lehman has ever been.
He stood on the first tee in the first group – a foursome with Lehman and Corey Pavin taking on Europeans Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie – of the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y. This would be Lehman's first Ryder Cup shot, and five-time major champion Byron Nelson was watching from mere feet away.
"A bit of a double whammy," Lehman said on the attack on his nerves.
Later in the match, tight to the finish until Pavin and Lehman won it by one hole, Lehman leaned over and told Pavin how nervous he was.
"He gave me some great advice, which I carry with me to this day – 'Get committed and swing; it's pretty simple stuff,' " Lehman said. "But the nerves and the excitement, the pressure is a very unique experience for a player. You have to learn to embrace it."
The experience is coming to Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, where the 2016 Ryder Cup will take place this fall.
"It's going to be an amazing event for the people of Minnesota," Lehman said. "The Ryder Cup is just the most unique golf event in the world. It's such an amazing spectacle and it's so competitive and there's so much pride and passion. I'm so excited for the state to experience it and be a part of it. I'm excited for our fans to carry our team to victory."
The Alexandria, Minn., native and Gophers alum has only one regret about the event.
"I wish I was playing," said Lehman, who competed in three Ryder Cups. "I wish I was young enough where I could play, still."
But the 58-year-old, who plans to play a "fairly full schedule" on the Champions Tour this summer, still will be an active participant. The 1996 British Open Champion is the U.S. vice captain and will work alongside captain Davis Love III.
Lehman doesn't sound entirely certain what that will require, but whatever it is, he'll do it.
"Whether it be making peanut butter sandwiches or carrying the rain gear or some guys you put your arms around and encourage them," Lehman said. "I think it's just the idea is how do you get your team in a situation where they can fully focus on the task at hand to be completely committed to it, to enjoy the challenge and embrace it and to play their best. I think that's the goal and the purpose of the captains."
Lehman captained the U.S. squad in the 2006 Ryder Cup, which the U.S. lost 18.5-9.5 in Ireland. He said a lot of minutiae is involved in being the captain, such as deciding whether the best hotel room should go to Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.
"I gave it to Vaughn Taylor, the No. 12 guy, just to take that out of play," Lehman said. "Things like that that you have to actually think about and make a decision on. There's a lot of things like that, but at the end of the day it's about the competition and enjoying the camaraderie of the team.
"I really just love the Ryder Cup."
This article was written by Jace Frederick from St. Paul Pioneer Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.