The Open: Tom Lehman gets emotional send-off at Royal Portrush
By Ali Stafford at Royal Portrush
Last Updated: 19/07/19 12:48pm
Former Champion Golfer of the Year Tom Lehman bid an emotional farewell to The Open after missing the cut in the final major of the year at Royal Portrush.
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The 1996 winner of the Claret Jug was in the last year of his automatic qualification as a former champion, with Lehman losing that status when he turns 60 in March.
The American was given the honour of hitting the opening tee shot of the second round at 6.35am on Friday, where Lehman followed a first-round 78 with a five-over 76 to leave himself well outside the cut mark.
"There was emotion for sure," Lehmann said. "You don't really know how you're going to react to the last thing of something, and this one was very sweet and joyful.
"I really expected to play well this week. I've been playing pretty steadily back home, hitting the ball extremely well and driving it great. I thought this is a good course for me, and of course I didn't play that well."
With his eldest son caddying for him, Lehman made a nightmare start with three bogeys in his opening four holes and slipped further behind with a double-bogey at the par-three sixth to reach the turn in 41.
The 59-year-old cancelled out his only birdie of the day at the 10th with a bogey at the par-three 16th, before receiving a standing ovation from those in the 18th grandstand as he signed off with a closing par.
Lehman now turns his attentions to playing in the Senior Open next week at Royal Lytham, the venue where he registered his only major win, where victory would see him eligible for one more Open appearance next year at Royal St. George's.
"It was more emotional than I thought it would be," Lehman added. "I did everything in my power not to start bawling walking down the 18th fairway.
"I just said to him [his son] how much I loved him. There was nobody in the world I'd rather be walking down the fairway with right here than you. It means a lot to me you're here by my side.
"This may be my last one, but maybe the next time I'll be caddying for you. Hopefully that comes true."