Penalty Stroke Cost Lehman His PGA Tour Card

By Chris Chaney
Tuesday March 13th, 2018 12:04 pm EDT


Golf is full of agonizing stories, especially at the lower levels of the game where players either overcame or succumbed to obstacles that eventually made or broke their prospective careers.

During Monday night’s episode of Feherty, 1996 Open Champion Tom Lehman told a story about how calling a penalty on himself caused him to miss out on his PGA Tour card.

“You learn lessons along the way and the main lesson I think you learn in golf is how do you look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and feel good about yourself?” Lehman said.

“The Tour school – I forget the year; maybe ‘89 or ‘90 – I ended up calling a one-stroke penalty on myself because my ball moved when I was tapping in on about the 100th hole of the 108-hole tournament. I ended up missing (getting my card) by a shot.”


Lehman went on to tell a story about how he cheated as a junior high school player, signing for a score that was one stroke better than he had truly shot. Naturally, his team won the conference championship by that single stroke and Lehman was wracked with guilt following the conclusion.

He said that it was that day that he promised himself that he would never put himself in that position again when it came to cheating in golf.

“So, in the Tour school, when no body sees it but you and you still call it, that’s when you can look yourself in the mirror and you can feel good about it even though it does hurt,” he said.

David Feherty went on to describe in a karmic turn that Lehman’s honesty and missing out on his card led to a transformative year in his career on the Hogan Tour. Lehman said it was that season that he learned to believe in himself, which bred confidence, which led to solid play, and which eventually returned him to the PGA Tour, where he would flourish for the better part of the next 20 years.


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