Tom Lehman is in the comforts of home again. And boy, did it show. The Minnesota native started fast, finished fast and played steadily enough in the middle in windy conditions to open up a three-shot lead at 8 under after Round 1 of the 3M Championship. Lehman carded two birdies and an eagle in his first four holes, then closed with three straight birdies to get an already pro-Minnesota crowd on his side. “You always hear about nice Minnesota people,” Lehman said after his round that was filled with positive encouragement from the gallery. “They are.” Fans will be happy to know the first round leader/co-leader has gone on to win the 3M Championship five times, including Jay Haas in 2011. If Lehman is going to make that stat a six-pack he will have to fend off a whirlwind of players within striking distance. Two-time winner Bernhard Langer is among five players four shots back.
Hole of the day
No. 8 204 yards par 3: Playing into a firm wind, some players went up as much as three clubs to try and beat the elements. Not many succeeded. Just six birdies were made. And two of those were chip-ins by World Golf Hall of Famers Langer and Tom Watson.
Quote of the day
“After three days of this, that’s enough. Please. Turn the fans off.” — Scott Dunlap, who walked off the practice range in high winds Wednesday, played through them in a pro-am Thursday and shot 67 including a couple of complex wind gusts Friday.
Four questions: Up and down with Ian Woosnam
The 57-year-old former Masters winner from Wales shot even par in his 3M Championship debut.
Q What are your first impressions of this golf course and this event?
A It’s a great course. I love it. Unfortunately it’s very tricky in this wind and all of the practice was pretty similar to this so I really haven’t seen it when it’s a little bit calmer around here. But you have to keep grinding it out. Level par isn’t the end of the world but if I can come out and shoot 6 under [Saturday] I’m probably back in it.
Q How possible is that for you?
A Well, ever since I was a young boy I’ve been battling against the big ones [Woosnam is 5-4½]. I’ve been lucky enough to win a major, the Masters, and be [ranked] world No. 1. I’ve had the ability to strike the ball really well. Although I’d say that gets a bit tougher as you get older, even though I always say it’s not all about the ability to hit the ball. It’s the ability to score. Chip and putt when you’re not playing well.
Q How do you think Minnesota will fare as a Ryder Cup host in 2016?
A I’ve been in this part of the world before and you have some great fans here. They get the crowds up here. They love the golf.
Q This is your 11th event this year after not playing more than eight since 2009. Are you on a comeback?
A I thought my career was winding down. But I got a few invitations at the beginning of the year and was playing pretty good and got a win down in Houston. So I’m out here. But I’m getting a little tired, truth be told. I need a rest.