Above: Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, Patty Berg won 57 professional and 28 amateur tournaments. She passed away in 2006. Below: Tim Herron is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour who was nicknamed “Lumpy” while working as a young boy at Woodhill Country Club.
In 1992, he not only was back on the PGA Tour, he finished 24th in earnings that year. In 1994, he earned the first of his five PGA Tour victories. He finished second in the Masters that year. From 1995–98, he finished in the top five each year at the U.S. Open.
In 1996, after four top-three finishes in majors, Lehman broke through with a victory in the British Open. A three-time U.S. Ryder Cup Team member in the 1990s, Lehman was the U.S. Ryder Cup Captain in 2006 at The K Club in Ireland.
He is now a Champions Tour rookie at 50, but still competes on the PGA Tour, and made the cut at this year’s U.S. Open.
Lehman now lives in Scottsdale, but he still credits his Minnesota roots for helping him stick with it for as long as he did. “People in Minnesota just love golf,” Lehman says. “There’s a passion there that you don’t see everywhere.”
That’s one of the reasons Minnesota is the only state to have played host to all 13 U. S. Golf Association individual championships and all four team events. The state also has played host to numerous men’s, women’s and senior majors, including the 1916 U.S. Open at The Minikahda Club, the 1930 U.S. Open at Interlachen, the 1932 and 1954 PGA Championships at Keller Golf Club, the 1959 PGA Championship at
Minneapolis Golf Club, the 1970 and 1991 U. S. Opens at Hazeltine
National Golf Club, and the 2002 and 2009 PGA Championships at Hazeltine. Hazeltine National also will play host to the 2016
Perhaps no one summed up a typical Minnesotan’s desire to get outside and play after a long winter better than Barb Lehman, Tom’s mother, when she tried to describe a typical summer day during the 1970s for young Tom and his brother, Jim.
“They played golf, came home and ate lunch, played golf, came home and ate dinner, played golf,” she recalls. “They just played for fun.”
Minnesota has produced many other prominent players, including:
• John Harris, who was born and raised in the heart of hockey country in Roseau. He became a star in golf as well as hockey at the University of Minnesota. In 1993, he helped the United States to a 19-5 rout in the Walker Cup and then won the U.S. Amateur, all at age 41. Harris now plays on the Champions Tour.
• Tim Herron was a young boy scooping up range balls at Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata when he got tagged with a nickname he really didn’t care for. Today, “Lumpy” is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. He finished sixth in the 1999 U.S. Open and is one of three generations of Herrons to have played in the U.S. Open. His grandfather, Carson Lee, played in the 1934 U. S. Open and his father, Carson, played in the 1963 U. S. Open. Herron’s sister, Alissa, won the 1999 U.S. Mid-Amateur.
• Lee Janzen, a two-time U.S. Open champion, was born in Austin, Minn., but moved early on and spent most of his childhood in Maryland and Florida.
• Mac O’Grady was born in Minneapolis in 1951. He became a two-time PGA Tour winner and finished tied for ninth at the 1987 U.S. Open.
• Chris Perry was born in North Carolina, but lived in Minnesota when his father, Jim, pitched for the Twins. Chris won three state high school titles from 1978- 80 and both the State Amateur and the State Open before turning professional in 1984. ●