Lehman Shot At Then Shoots 76


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- What a strange week it's been for Tom Lehman.
It started with a routine trip to the airport, which turned terrifying when a bullet ripped through the side of his courtesy car.
Then came the opening round of the Masters, when he pulled off his shoes and socks, rolled up his pants and dipped his feet into Rae's Creek.
Tom Lehman
Tom Lehman survived a drive-by shooting Tuesday and then shot 76 in the first round.
Lehman opened the tournament with a 4-over 76 on Thursday -- a mediocre score, to be sure, but certainly understandable in light of what the U.S. Ryder Cup captain went through two days earlier.
While heading for the airport to pick up his wife, kids, other family members and friends, Lehman was the target of what appears to be a random drive-by shooting. The bullet pierced a backseat door and lodged in the seat behind the golfer, who wasn't injured.
'It was a very, very surreal experience,' said Lehman, whose car had no markings linking it to the Masters. 'You don't have guys shooting at you very often.'
An arrest was made after a second car was fired on. Once the suspect was in custody, investigators linked the two crimes together, finding weapons and spent casings.
Lehman was driving along Bobby Jones Expressway -- named after the famed golfer who co-founded Augusta National -- and nearing the airport exit when the shooting occurred Tuesday night.
'I heard this huge, loud explosion,' he recalled, while standing behind the 18th green after his round. 'My initial reaction was, 'Someone just shot at me.' But the windows weren't broken. All the wheels were intact.'
Lehman drove to the airport, where he was able to examine the luxury SUV more closely. That's when he found a bullet hole in the door and called police.
'I wanted to let the police know right away so this guy couldn't hurt somebody else,' he said.
Lehman was grateful the shooting occurred on the way to the airport -- and not after he picked up his family. His 10-year-old son, Thomas, could have been sitting in the seat where the bullet ended up.
'We were all joking around and looking at the car, but Thomas was very upset,' said Lehman's wife, Melissa. 'He kept asking, 'Who did that? Who did that?' He really loves his dad.'
Lehman figures he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
'I think the guy was full of Jack Daniels,' the golfer said, managing a smile. 'He must have had a bad day at work.'
Lehman refused to blame his shaky start at the Masters on what happened on his way to the airport. He simply couldn't get anything going, failing to make a birdie all day.
The par-5 13th -- which played second-easiest of all the holes -- epitomized the state of Lehman's game. He positioned his tee shot in the middle of the fairway, giving him a chance to go at the green with his second shot. But he came up short, the shot settling in the creek that divides the fairway from the green.
Lehman waved his club in disgust when the ball disappeared from view, stood in the middle of the fairway with his right hand on his hip, then took a few practice swings before heading off to find it.
After locating the ball, Lehman decided to play it instead of taking a drop. The shoes and socks came off, and the pants were rolled up. Stepping carefully into the shallow water, he settled in for a mighty swing.
Unfortunately for Lehman, he managed to move the ball only 4 or 5 yards, watching glumly as it settled in thick rough on the opposite side -- dry but still short of the green.
Lehman didn't even bother to put his shoes back on before he swung again, chipping about 15 feet short of the flag, tucked into the back right corner of the massive green. He missed the putt and marked down a bogey -- one of only 16 players who didn't make at least a par on a hole that surrendered 30 birdies and six eagles.
This is an important week for Lehman, who could move closer to an automatic spot on the U.S. team that plays Europe this fall in the Ryder Cup, looking to avenge a crushing loss at home two years ago.
Lehman would like to be the first playing-captain for the Americans since Arnold Palmer in 1963. The top 10 automatically make the team, and Lehman was 12th in points coming into the Masters. If he doesn't get in that way, he could use one of his two captain's picks to draft, well, the captain -- but only if he's playing well enough to be deserving.
Coincidentally, Lehman's group included Ian Woosnam, captain of the European team. They didn't spend much time talking about Ryder Cup.
'I asked him if he was busy. He said, 'Fairly.' He asked if I was busy. I said, 'Fairly,'' Lehman recounted. 'We talked a little about handling the media. It was a friendly round of golf.'
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