Tom Lehman shoots 65, leads Champions Tour event by one

Written By BY HERB GOULD For Sun-Times Media Posted: 07/22/2014, 12:17am

After making some putts en route to a 7-under-par 65 that put him atop the leaderboard after the first round Friday, Tom Lehman was pleased to be in contention for his first Champions Tour victory since 2012 at the Encompass Championship at North Shore Country Club in Glenview.

‘‘It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the interview room,’’ said Lehman, who has played 26 events without a victory the last two years. ‘‘I’m not even sure I remember how to get here. It’s been erratic. It’s nice to be here.’’

Starting on the 10th tee, Lehman birdied four of his last six holes, including three putts in the 12- to 15-foot range.

‘‘All those mid-range putts are the ones I’ve been struggling with,’’ Lehman said. ‘‘Today I was seeing the line. I was getting [the putts] on line, and the speed was just right. It’s not like I’ve been playing poorly. But in order to shoot a low round, you have to putt well.’’

Red numbers were abundant, with 23 players within four shots of Lehman. Roger Chapman and Doug Garwood were one shot off the lead and seven others were two back.

‘‘When there’s not a lot of wind and the greens are accessible, guys are going to tear it up,’’ Jeff Sluman said after shooting a 67.

The hangover

Coming off a solid showing last week at Pinehurst, Kenny Perry attributed a sluggish 1-under 71 start to his usual letdown after a U.S. Open.

‘‘I’m just tired,’’ Perry said. ‘‘Last week was a big drain on me, a lot of pressure. I just had trouble getting going today. To shoot 1 under . . . that’s pretty disappointing.’’

The hangover wasn’t surprising, though.

‘‘I’ve always experienced it,’’ Perry said. ‘‘[The Open] is so over-the-top. You burn up so much mental energy, it fatigues you. I’m going to get some rest and hopefully come out with a little energy [Saturday] and see if we can shoot 6 or 7 under.’’

Golf, not football

Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher scoffed at rumors the Dallas Cowboys were thinking about luring him out of retirement.

‘‘You said it,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘They’re rumors. I’m an ex-football player. I don’t play football anymore.’’

Urlacher, who has gone from an 8-handicap player to a 5-handicap player in a year, has a fine future as a golfer, according to Sluman, his pro-am partner.

‘‘You can see he’s been playing a lot of golf,’’ Sluman said. ‘‘He’s got the tools to be a scratch player in a year, a year and a half.’’

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