Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PGA Tour Transitions Championship notebook

Lehman's terms

PALM HARBOR — On March 7, Tom Lehman turned 50, the magical age that makes a player eligible for the Champions Tour. But Lehman has no plans to join his fellow seniors this year. He believes he still can compete with the young guys, and he's proving it this week.

Lehman shot 2-under 69 Friday for 5-under 137, one shot off the lead. Being in contention is new to Lehman. He missed the first four cuts this season, and his best finish has been a tie for 49th at the Mayakoba Golf Classic on March 1.

He shut down his 2008 season in August because of tendinitis in his left elbow and is playing on a minor medical extension. That means he has six events to earn $176,101, which combined with his 2008 earnings of $676,651 would equal the money of the 125th person on last year's list. He then would be upgraded to major medical extension status and be invited to events that accept the top 125.

Lehman has earned $8,658 through five events, and he needs to finish in a three-way tie for seventh or better to earn the major medical extension. If not, he can use his one-time exemption for being top 25 on the career money list to get into some 2009 events.

"I'm just glad I'm playing well again,'' he said. "I had the elbow injury that kept me out for almost five months. And then I haven't played very well since I've come back. But I still believe when my game is good, I can compete out here.''

Lehman has won five times on the PGA Tour, including the 1996 British Open. He was the 2006 Ryder Cup captain. He said this year likely will be his last full time on the PGA Tour.

"I'm going to focus on one tour each year,'' he said. "This year my focus will be mainly on the PGA Tour and maybe a few Champions Tour events. Next year I'll focus mainly on the Champions Tour and play a few PGA Tour events.''

Friday seemed like old times for the man who has earned more than $20 million in his 23-year career: "The difference is 10 years ago I used to contend regularly, and now I only contend once in a while.''

Early birdies

The wind was calm, the sun was shining and birdies were flying all over Friday morning as several players moved into contention. Charles Howell and Joe Ogilvie each shot a second-round-low 5 under and were one off the pace. Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Steve Flesch, Joe Durant and Rich Beem shot 4-under 67 to vault up the leaderboard.

"It's nice being the first group off,'' Beem said. "There was no wind for the first 14 holes, which is a huge advantage on this course. Now I'll be watching some college basketball and the inside of my eyelids. I don't think about (today) until I tee it up and look down the fairway.''

Tribute to a friend

Watney used a black marker to write "LM'' on his Titleist hat, a tribute to friend Lee Markarian of Fresno, Calif., who had triple bypass surgery Thursday morning. "This is just so he knows I'm thinking about him,'' Watney said.

Around the course

Clearwater's Greg Kraft, Palm Harbor's Bob Heintz, K.J. Choi, a two-winner at Innisbrook, and former champ Mark Calcavecchia were 2 over and missed the cut by one shot. Defending champion Sean O'Hair shot 3 over. … David Toms, coming off a two-week break and starting his three-week bid to get into the Masters, shot 68-73. He is No. 66 in the world ranking and needs to get inside the top 50 after next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, where Tiger Woods, a five-time winner, confirmed Thursday he will compete with reigning major winners Trevor Immelman and Padraig Harrington.

Rodney Page, Times staff writer

PGA Tour Transitions Championship notebook 03/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2009 9:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Jake Faria had his lucky rubber duck — OG, the original one he has had since high school — with him, and the Rays had nothing to worry about as he put his rocky Wednesday outing well behind him, working into the eighth while scattering seven hits.

  3. Rays journal: Rookie Jacob Faria continues to show veteran poise

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles threatened in the first inning and the second. They loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning with the top of the order up and seemed poised for a big inning. But those opportunities produced only one run because Rays rookie RHP Jacob Faria kept his composure and got the …

    Jacob Faria goes a career-high 71/3 innings, staying composed when the Orioles threaten.
  4. Rays vs. Orioles, 12:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field


    Today: vs. Orioles

    12:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM

    Tickets: $15-$275; available at Tropicana Field box office,, surcharge of up to $5 within 5 hours of game time.

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Bruce Arena blends intense demands with humor to lead U.S. soccer


    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Bruce Arena bites his fingernails religiously, a habit he has had since age 10.

    Among some other unmentionables.

    Bruce Arena