"But I had decided to have fun. I didn't mind the bad food and the bad courses. No matter how bad everything else was, I saw how much better off I was than a lot of the poor people over there.
"And I became mentally tough in those tough conditions. That trip was the best thing ever for me."
After playing in mini-tour events in the United States in the summer and in a number of tournaments in Australia in the fall, Lehmann loaded up his equipment and went back to the annual PGA qualifying tournament, held this year in Palm Springs. Just like the past two years, he made it to the finals again--but barely. In the regional qualifying, Lehmann was tied with seven other golfers and was forced into a playoff. But he chipped in for a birdie on the first playoff hole and qualified.
"For the first time," he says, "I was relaxed in the finals."
After 108 holes of golf--the qualifying includes six rounds--Lehmann finished 28th and, finally, fulfilled his dream of playing on the tour. "It is the toughest test in all of golf," he says. "If you're good enough to make the tour, you're good enough to win a tournament. I think I can win one event this year."
If he does, Lehmann will make more money than he has up to this point in his golfing career. In his two years of playing mini-tours, he said he made $40,000. One PGA victory would bring in about $100,000.
So, after years of fretting and bumbling his way out of lesser competitions, how will the 26-year-old's nerves hold up against the best golfers in the world?
"I could go out and be really intimidated by the golfers out there," he says. "But I've learned to relax. I know now that all pressures are self-induced."
He'll try to remember that, even when he plays with a certain fellow tour professional: Clampett. In all likelihood, Lehmann will at some time in '87 be paired with his old college teammate, but after treks to Europe, Asia and small tournaments in cities such as Bakersfield, he says he can handle it.
"I even look forward to playing against guys like Clampett," he says. "None of it will be as tough as playing in Asia on bad courses against a lot of little, short Chinese guys who shoot five strokes better than you do."