On Sunday, Tom Lehman won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship to win the Charles Schwab Cup for a second straight year in his hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. On Monday, his longtime instructor Jim Flick passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Lehman began working with Jim Flick in 1990 and Lehman said that a typical day with him involved hitting balls and then getting into a long conversation about any subject ranging from golf to politics to religion and everything else. Flick made him feel like he was a great player and a great person whenever they were together and Flick did that for everyone. Lehman remembered that he felt a bit out of place when he qualified for his first Ryder Cup team in 1995 and Flick reminded him that he had earned his place on that team and that he deserved to be there. Flick helped to make Lehman a better player but more importantly made him a better person.
There were a number of times during last week’s tournament at Desert Mountain where he was overcome with emotion because that is where he had met Flick and where they had spent countless hours working together on his golf game. It was a very bittersweet experience to win at a place that had so much personal significance because while he felt comfortable on that course, he also knew that Flick was nearing the end of his battle with cancer. Lehman said that he had one of his best weeks in years on the course and he was happy that he was able to show Flick how well he played.
The last time he spoke with Flick was on Saturday morning last weekend and it was a very short conversation. Flick simply told Lehman: “Coach, go out and be Tom Lehman.” Flick always called him Coach and he constantly told him to remember who he is and to believe in himself and what he can accomplish.
The competition on the golf course is what the hours of preparation leads up to. When asked what he would miss the most if he were to stop playing competitive golf, he said he did not know if he would miss competing or preparing because both are so important to what he does as a professional golfer. He loves competing and he loves being around his fellow players.