Lehman Rolls to Easy Win in 1996


There was Tom Lehman, winning in a most Lehman-like way. He ground down the rest of the field playing Lehman-like golf, grinding out birdie and birdie, par after par on the quirky old Royal Lytham and St. Annes course. When it was over, not even that ultimate grinder, Nick Faldo, could do it any better.
Here was the situation: Lehman, playing like a Grand Master, had a six-shot on second-place Faldo at the end of the third round in 1996.
Uh ' wasnt the situation in the Masters in 96? Greg Norman had a six-shot lead on ' who? ' yes, it was this very same Faldo. Easy, Tom, easy!
The final round was as different as Augusta is from St. Annes, though. Whereas Norman got on a bogey train after eight holes and Faldo roared up to win going away, Lehman stood fast. Whereas Norman drowned under a tidal wave of poor approaches and poor putts, Lehman followed up Sunday right where he had left off Saturday ' and Friday and Thursday. They kept setting up the holes and he kept knocking them down, time and time again.
Yeah, said Lehman, reflecting back on what had happened in the spring of the year, Ive thought about it already. But this is a different place, a different time, and I just feel like Im playing very well. I like my situation.
Faldo missed a six-footer for birdie on the first hole, and didnt come close to throwing a scare into Lehman. He missed another six-footer at the fifth, a three-footer at the sixth, and a third six-footer at the seventh. This one, folks, wasnt close.
An opening-round 67, second round of 67 and a third-round of 64 set the tone for Lehman. Actually, his strongest opposition came from Ernie Els, who birdied his way to only two off the pace after 15.
However, errant drives at 16 and 18 cost him bogeys and he never again threatened.
I cant describe the way I feel, said Lehman. All the hard work along the way to this day to win the silver trophy and take it home as Open champion makes everything worthwhile ' every mini-tour I played, everything. It really is the greatest day of my life.
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