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Rock Solid
ALAN SHIPNUCK
June 07, 2010
Steady if not spectacular, Tom Lehman rode four subpar rounds to his first solo win as a senior
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June 07, 2010

Rock Solid

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Steady if not spectacular, Tom Lehman rode four subpar rounds to his first solo win as a senior

If there are any fans out there still doubting the quality of golf or level of excitement on the Champions tour, the final round of the Senior PGA offered a rousing example of all that these old guys have to offer. Third-round leader Jay Don Blake, a mustachioed Cinderfella, was still leading the tournament until a dizzying sequence in the middle of his round during which he went bogey, eagle, double bogey, birdie, bogey, bogey. That last hiccup knocked Blake from the lead for good, ceding the stage to David Frost, who was still flying high after his course-record seven-under 65 the day before. Frost birdied three holes in a row beginning on the 15th to take the clubhouse lead at seven under, but he was caught down the stretch by some vintage Boom Boom. Fred Couples, the enigmatic tour savior, was just puttering along on Sunday until a spectacular eagle-eagle sequence on the back-to-back par-5s at 15 and 16.

But amid all these fireworks the steadiest golf was played by Tom Lehman, the 51-year-old grinder who was the only player in the field to shoot four under-par rounds. After seven consecutive pars Lehman birdied 15 and 16, then scrambled for par at the last to force a playoff with Couples and Frost. Then, hitting first on the first extra hole, he smashed a drive down the middle. His opponents both drove wildly and struggled just to finish the hole, while ol' Tom displayed his world-class iron play en route to a pressure-proof par that wrapped up the victory.

Afterward a breathless TV announcer declared that Lehman now owns two career majors, which is poppycock. The Senior PGA will never carry the weight of his 1996 British Open triumph, but what this win meant to Lehman was written all over his face on Sunday evening. "It feels wonderful," he said. "Anytime you get the best players together in one place to compete and you win, you've really accomplished something."

A late bloomer who didn't win his first PGA Tour event until he was 35, Lehman appears to be finally settling in during his second season on the Champions tour. In 2009 he teamed with Bernhard Langer to win the Legends of Golf but otherwise didn't have a big rookie campaign. This year Lehman already has five top five finishes and, flush with victory, he's starting to sound greedy. "I've never been the kind of person who sits back and goes, Wow, this has been great, look at all I've done," said the new Senior PGA champ. "I'm more the kind of person who says, You know, look what more I could do."

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