Notes Lehmans Passion Tigers British Digs

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PGA Tour (75x100)In the last 25 years of the Ryder Cup, one thing that sets Tom Lehman apart from previous U.S. captains is his record.
 
He won the '96 British Open, and there has never been a U.S. captain without a major championship. Lehman, however, won only four other PGA Tour events and played in just three Ryder Cup matches. Other candidates, such as Mark O'Meara and Larry Nelson, had won more majors, played in more Ryder Cups and were eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame.
 
'Do you have to win a lot of tournaments to be a good captain? That would be my criticism of the criticism,' Jim Furyk said.
 
Lehman never felt as though he had to apologize for not winning more, or explaining why he was chosen.
 
But when he hosted an informal cookout at the Wachovia Championship for prospective Ryder Cup players earlier this month, he openly discussed his record as a way of showing that his chief asset as captain was his passion for the matches.
 
'I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not,' Lehman said in an interview a week after the cookout. 'I know who I am as a player. I could tell them who has been ranked No. 1, who has won majors. There are other players who have won more and could have been captain. I'm well aware of that, and I have respect and admiration for those who were not selected.'
 
Lehman said he does not feel less worthy as a captain because he has only five trophies, including a claret jug. And he understands why some would question his selection over someone like O'Meara (16 wins, two majors, five Ryder Cup teams), Nelson (10 wins, three majors) or even Fred Couples (14 wins, one major, five teams).
 
'I'm a realist,' he said. 'I'm not living with my head under a rock. I can completely see why that would be said, and it would be a mistake not to understand that way of thinking.'
 
What he feels he brings as captain is desire, which he believes will rub off on his team.
 
'There's no way you can inspire somebody unless you're truly inspired yourself,' Lehman said. 'Nobody loves the Ryder Cup more than I do. I promise you, nobody loves it more.'
 
Furyk says Lehman made his point perfectly clear.
 
'All Tom was trying to say was that he was really passionate about the Ryder Cup, it's one of his favorite events and he was proud to be the captain,' Furyk said. 'He wanted that to reflect on us. He wants to do everything to help guys win.'
 
Which guys that will be remains a work in progress. Tim Herron climbed into the top 10 this week by winning Colonial. The player in 42nd place in the standings -- Joe Durant -- is one victory away this week from moving into the top 10.
 
TIGER'S BRITISH DIGS
Tiger Woods' return to golf remains uncertain after the May 3 death of his father, although he at least has rooms booked for the British Open -- a lot of rooms.
 
According to a British tabloid, Woods has paid about $265,000 to book the entire Hillbark Hotel for five nights. The hotel has 19 luxurious rooms, is located among 250 acres and has its own helipad. The executive suite has panoramic views of the Dee Estuary and North Wales. One hotel source told The Mirror that the hotel also has a fleet of luxury cars available to the guests.
 
The British Open will be held at Royal Liverpool for the first time since 1968.
 
TREVOR TAKES CHARGE
Trevor Immelman of South Africa received a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour when he was a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup. Turns out he didn't even need it.
 
Immelman earned $614,867 last year and became a special temporary member. But that money list did not reflect his earnings from two World Golf Championships ($112,000), which gave him more than enough to be the equivalent of the top 125 and get his card for 2006.
 
With runner-up finishes at the Wachovia Championship and Byron Nelson Championship in consecutive weeks, the 26-year-old is 16th on the money list with nearly $1.7 million and is assured of keeping his PGA Tour card for 2007.
 
'There were two great weeks,' he said. 'I think I'm playing the best golf my career so far. I've got to just keep plugging away and doing what I'm doing and eliminate a few of those errors, and hopefully pick up a couple of trophies along the way.'
 
SKINNER'S CHARITY
Val Skinner raised another $500,000 to fight breast cancer by staging a pro-am involving 16 players from the LPGA Tour. In seven years, she now has raised $3.5 million from the LIFE Event, which she started as a tribute to Heather Farr, a former LPGA Tour member who died of breast cancer.
 
Skinner presented $250,000 checks Monday to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
 
'It's hard to believe that we've been coming together for seven years already, but we have,' Skinner said. 'We continue to lose women we love to this disease, and we continue to raise funds to fight it. One day, together, we will beat it.'
 
RETURN TO OAK HILL
Oak Hill is returning to the major championship landscape, landing the Senior PGA Championship in 2008 and the PGA Championship in 2013.
 
Oak Hill previously has held the U.S. Open three times, the PGA Championship twice and the 1995 Ryder Cup. The last time a major was held there, Shaun Micheel clinched the 2003 PGA Championship with a 7-iron that stopped 2 inches from the cup for a tap-in birdie and a two-shot victory over Chad Campbell.
 
The Senior PGA Championship will put Oak Hill in rare company. It will join PGA National, Laurel Valley and Valhalla as the only courses to host the three biggest events organized by the PGA of America -- the PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
 
DIVOTS
The Honda LPGA Thailand has been added to the 2006 schedule, a $1.3 million event that will push prize money over $50 million for the first time in LPGA Tour history. The tournament will be played Oct. 20-22 at Amata Spring Country Club near Bangkok, the start of three straight tournaments in Asia. ... Dean Wilson tied for 12th at the Colonial and now has $763,644, the earliest he has secured his card in four years on the PGA Tour. ... Donald Trump finally got a USGA championship to one of his golf courses. The U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls Junior Amateur will be held at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey in 2009.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Lorena Ochoa has two victories and four runner-up finishes in her last six starts.
 
FINAL WORD
'If you're not in the Ryder Cup when you play the level I play at, you're not playing the right sort of golf.' -- Thomas Bjorn.
 
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