Golf: Grounded Lehman flying high

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The Independent Online
Having had his victory trumpeted by the bagpipes, and having been handed the Gulfstream World Invitational trophy by the Duke of York, Tom Lehman happened to mention that in America, when you win a tournament sponsored by the likes of Buick or Chrysler, one of their products is part of the booty, writes Andy Farrell.

Lehman, who won pounds 133,330 for his five-stroke victory over Ernie Els, was not really expecting a private jet to be delivered to his Scottsdale home. And, anyway, he had turned down a trip on one taking Payne Stewart to southern Spain after the tournament on Saturday night. Yesterday he joined other certain and potential members of the US Ryder Cup team, including Tiger Woods and the captain, Tom Kite, at Valderrama.

Instead, the 38-year-old Lehman spent the day practising his bunker play and having a wander around Royal Troon, the scene of the defence of his Open crown this week. "Once I got over here, I realised the week was going to be somewhat chaotic," the American said. "I have had a lot of requests and to go to Valderrama would have been too much. I don't think Tom is going to kick me off the team."

Certainly not the way Lehman is playing. While Colin Montgomerie thought winning at Loch Lomond might have proved "too tiring", Lehman achieved the feat in as effortless a way as possible. "Most of my wins have come when I am putting well and have been by decisive margins," he said.

Although he was briefly caught in the final round by the Swede Pierre Fulke, Lehman eased away to his second successive 67, following earlier rounds of 65 and 66. "Any time you win is special, but to win in Scotland, against a field of this quality, is even more special," he said. "And to shoot 19 under on this course makes you ecstatic."

Most people were happy on the Bonnie Banks. Els closed with rounds of 65 and 66 to prove his form is capable of taking him to a transatlantic Open double.

Montgomerie, who finished 10th and is on home soil this week, said: "I have never played any better leading up to an Open." Greg Norman and Stewart also finished on a high, the Shark birdieing the last.

About the only unhappy soul was Nick Faldo, who made a public exhibition of himself by giving a four-letter word dressing down to the technicians from his club manufacturers, Mizuno. Faldo was even more incensed when he realised one of the 30 people who witnessed the tirade was wearing a media badge. His assertion that what had been going on was a "private conversation" stacked up about as well as his performance on the course. He drifted in 15 strokes behind Lehman.

Final round scores, Digest, page 19