Tom Lehman returns to the site of his most famous victory this week as The Senior Open Presented by Rolex is played at Royal Lytham & St Annes for the first time in a quarter of a century from July 25-28.
“The course is playing differently. The course all those years ago was hard and baked out and bouncy and the ball was flying all over the place. The course this week is a little bit softer, but still basically the same course. You have to hit the same shots. It’s never been an easy golf course. You have to be very precise around here. I figured it out once. Hopefully I can figure it out twice.
Dutch Open R1
“It was the only time my dad ever came to The Open Championship. When I look at it now and watch the films and watch the video, and to see him back there it’s special. Spent the whole night at Tiggis restaurant until about two in the morning, and he was right there and to have him share it all was unbelievably special. He was my inspiration as a kid, all through going up, he was the one who was my role model. Having him there to share it was a really big deal.”
Royal Lytham & St Annes last hosted The Senior Open in 1994, and it was just two years later that Lehman won The Open in fine style – setting a course record of 64 in the process.
The American is one of 12 Major Champions teeing it up in Europe’s only Senior Major this week, bidding to take the title from Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez, who won his second Senior Major crown on the Old Course at St Andrews last year.
“It’s very nice coming here,” said Jiménez, “Royal Lytham and St Annes is one of the finest links courses. Depending on the wind, you’re going to have very tough holes. All the bunkers are in play. They are deep bunkers. It’s in super condition. I like it very much and coming here, defending my title I won in St Andrews last year, and I will do my best to defend the best I can.
“It was a very nice win last year – it’s one of the best obviously. Winning a major, and winning in St Andrews, it’s what every golfer wants to do. It was amazing.”
He became the second Spaniard to win at the highest level on the Old Course after the late, great Seve Ballesteros won The Open there in 1984. Perhaps fittingly, Jiménez is defending his title on the same course where Ballesteros triumphed twice, winning The Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1979 and 1988.
Colin Montgomerie, who finished tied 13 th at The 2001 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, is aiming to win his fourth Senior Major Championship this week – adding to his two KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship wins in 2014 and 2015 and his U.S. Senior Open victory in 2014.
The Englishman has finished second and third in this event and was runner-up to Bernhard Langer in 2014 at Royal Porthcawl.
“The course is fantastic. The players who played in the 2001 Open and also the 2012 Open I think forgot really how good this course was as a golf course. 169 bloody bunkers. There’s a lot of them; stay out of them. But it’s been great. We’re looking forward to a fabulous championship ahead.
“When you think about The R&A’s tournaments, I haven’t won one. Second at the Open, second at the British Amateur, second at the British Youths, second at the Senior Open. You think, wait a minute, I’ve got a lot of these runner-up trays but I haven’t actually got a trophy. Let’s hope one day the door will open and I’ll be able to walk through it. But if not, I’ve had great success in these R&A events – I’ve loved every one of them, and this is no different.”
As one of eight Ryder Cup Captains teeing it up tomorrow, a world-class field has assembled on the Lancashire coast for the final Senior Major Championship of the season.