Austin-born and Alexandria-raised, Ryder Cup vice captain Tom Lehman is the U.S. team’s home-state advantage.
He’s one of four vice captains — Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker are the others — who will assist Davis Love III, and he’s the guy Love has relied upon for expertise about anything Minnesotan, including local knowledge of Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska.
That means legwork Lehman and wife Melissa did in recent months checking out potential hotels and best restaurants for the home team. That means getting to Hazeltine National whenever Lehman could in breaks from the Champions Tour or downtime from the new lake place he bought near Alexandria.
It also means Lehman has become an armchair meteorologist for the three-day event that will stretch into October’s first two days in Minnesota, where morning frost delays are a concern.
“I looked up the Farmer’s Almanac, the history of that week,” Lehman said. “Historically, it will be cool in the mornings, decent in the afternoons. The wind was all over the map. The years I looked up — over 30 years, it was — it’s going to have some breeze. You may get lucky and have one of those beautiful 80-degree, 5-mile-per-hour weeks, but those are pretty rare. Blowing 10 to 15, 16, 17 [mph] was pretty normal, about 65 to 70 degrees was pretty normal. It will be cold in the morning, though.”
So what about … snow?
“Unlikely,” Lehman said.
Lehman was the U.S. team captain in 2006 and a vice captain alongside Love to Corey Pavin in 2010. This time around, he has involved members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that beat the mighty Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice.” Mike Eruzione spoke at a team dinner Lehman arranged during a tour stop in Boston this month. Neal Broten, Mike Ramsey, Dave Christian and others will be involved at Hazeltine in everything from public appearances at the Ryder Cup merchandise shops to driving golf carts on the course.
“Those are all Tom’s ideas,” Love said. “He loves that stuff.”
The first vice captain named after the Ryder Cup “task force” chose to bring back Love as captain for the second time since 2012, Lehman was asked about his specific duties as Love’s assistant.
“You know, it’s whatever,” said Lehman, who will lead a group of four players expected to practice and play together. “Sometimes you’re making peanut-butter sandwiches or carrying their rain gear. Some guys you put an arm around and encourage them. The idea is, how do you get your team so they can fully focus on the task at hand, to be completely committed to it, to enjoy the challenge and embrace it and play their best? That’s what everybody’s goal is.”