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Golf: Younger Lehman excited to promote professional golf in lakes area

Thomas Lehman received a sponsor's exemption to play in the inaugural CRMC Championship at Cragun's Legacy Courses.

Tom and Thomas Lehman wait.
Alexandria native and longtime PGA Tour pro Tom Lehman (left) and his son Thomas wait to tee off on the No. 3 tee box at Alexandria Golf Club in 2019. With Tom caddying for him all week, Thomas has made a run into the Men’s Championship semifinals at the 98th Resorters.
Eric Morken / Echo Press
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EAST GULL LAKE — Thomas Lehman will be in the field Thursday, Aug. 25, for the PGA Tour Canada’s CRMC Championship presented by Gertens at Cragun’s Legacy Courses.

While it’s probably not the Thomas Lehman you’re thinking of, it will be the son of the former Alexandria Cardinal who hits the links with the 2:45 p.m. tee time for the opening round.

The younger Lehman, whose dad will be the honorary chairman of the event and who has designed the front nine and redesigned the back nine holes of the tournament, is excited to showcase his talents near his dad’s old stomping grounds.

“This is my first PGA Canada event and it being close to where my dad grew up is pretty amazing and close to my heart,” Lehman said. “Obviously, I want to play really well this week. It’s a great opportunity so I’m really excited.”

Lehman followed his mother’s college path and played golf at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. But he’s no stranger to playing golf in Minnesota. He qualified for the US Amateur Championship by shooting 72-74 at Dacotah Ridge Golf Club in Morton. He missed the cut in the Championship, which was played at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill.

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The younger Lehman also played the Resorters Tournament in Alexandria so playing at Cragun’s Legacy Courses won’t be altogether unfamiliar.

“I played it the first time about a week and a half ago and I came out last year and drove around with him when he was designing it,” Lehman said. “I had never played Cragun’s before a week and a half ago and I’ve played it a few times since then. I love it. We talked about ways to attack the course and I feel like I have a good plan on what I need to do. The course set up is great for my game and I’m looking forward to it.”

Lehman said he hasn’t hit the ball as well as he is currently hitting it in a long time. He said he's playing as well as he has in a while. That confidence and a clear game plan have him excited for the first round.

“Based on how I’m playing right now, my expectations are really high,” Lehman said. “Obviously, I just need to stay in the moment and look at it as just another tournament to play in. I have to keep the heart rate down and just play it like a normal tournament. Obviously, I have pretty high expectations for this week in terms of where I’ll finish so I think I can do really well this week. That’s my expectation. To finish somewhere near the top.”

1.DSC_4417.THOMASLEHMAN.jpg
Thomas Lehman watches a drive during the 2019 Resorters Tournament in Alexandria. The son of former PGA Tour player Tom Lehman, Thomas will compete in the PGA Tour Canada CRMC Championship presented by Gertens Thursday, Aug. 25, at Cragun's Legacy Courses.
Eric Morken / Echo Press

Without knowing what the course looked like before Cragun’s redesigned most of its golf holes, Lehman said he’s most excited about how many driver holes the course will present. The course will play 7,000 yards and will be a par 70, which means driver will be a key club in every player’s bag.

“If you can drive it well then that’s a huge advantage,” Lehman said. “You’ll have a lot of shorter clubs into these greens, which are pretty firm right now. There are plenty of holes you can take advantage of if you drive it well. I think it’s all about driver and wedges this week. If you can have those both down, it’s a huge advantage.”

Lehman will tee off at 2:45 p.m. along with Andrew Israelson of Staples and Travis Fredborg of Canada. Israelson and Lehman competed against each other at the Resorters a few years ago and their fathers competed against each other and know each other well from their days in Staples and Alexandria as well as on the PGA. The two fathers played practice rounds together before the 1996 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville. They played in the same pairing for the 2012 PGA Senior Championship at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

In 1980, Lehman beat Israelson in the Resorters.

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But Thursday will be all about the next generation.

“This is really cool,” Lehman said. “It’s the first Canadian Tour event to be in the states I believe. For it to be at a course my dad is working on and helped redo these two nine-hole courses and the one that’s not finished yet, I feel pretty blessed to be a part of all of this. I’m sure there will be a lot of people out there to watch and I’ve talked to a lot of people here in Alexandria and everyone is excited for this event to be here. I don’t blame them. It’s pretty cool.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

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