Tom Lehman had just moved into contention for his first PGA Tour victory in four years after his second straight round in the sixties, but wife Melissa, making her first trip to the nation's capital since 2002, was more interested in Capitol Hill scuttlebutt than in golf.
"Was The Washington Post the paper that printed the F-word by Dick Cheney?" she asked after her husband finished an interview with the print media.
Lehman, with his mind focused on the Booz Allen this week, was not up to speed on Tuesday's heated exchange between the vice president and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).
"What happened?" Lehman asked. Melissa eagerly recounted the incident to her husband, who listened attentively, remained silent on the subject and then stepped away to sign more autographs. Lehman at this juncture wanted no part of political controversy. His attention instead is on his resurgent game, which yesterday was in gear during a round of 4-under-par 67 that left the 1996 British Open champion alone in sixth, five shots off the lead.
"I think my game is probably the best it's been," Lehman said. "Actually, this whole year has been pretty good, pretty solid, and it's all a matter if I make a few putts or not. My putting has been definitely the Achilles' heel of my game. It's been letting me down this year, over the last several years, actually. I went back to the long putter this week, and I've actually made a few. I'm rolling it probably a little more consistently, a little more on line."
Lehman needed 31 putts yesterday -- not superlative by PGA Tour standards -- but that was good enough for five birdies and a second-round 67. Lehman, whose only bogey came at No. 8, also tied his second-lowest round this season. His lowest is a 66, which he shot Thursday at TPC at Avenel and has matched two other times.
Lehman's first birdie almost was an eagle. After a 277-yard drive to the middle of the fairway at the 435-yard, par-4 fourth, he hit his approach to four inches of the cup, then tapped in to go to 6 under for the tournament.
On his next birdie at the fifth, Lehman simply kept the putter in his bag. He had no reason to reach for it after his second shot landed just off the green, about 13 feet from the pin, and his chip from there found the bottom of the cup.
"I hit it fairly close all day," Lehman said. "You know, a lot of 12-footers, 15-footers, 18-footers."
At the par-3 11th, Lehman had a 15-foot putt after his tee shot landed below the pin. He sank that to reach 7 under and then showed at age 45 he still has the gusto to keep up with the long hitters. His drive at the 524-yard, par-5 13th sailed 303 yards and landed on the left edge of the fairway. Lehman reached the green with his second shot and missed his eagle putt by inches.
"I played really well. Actually, I didn't get out of it what I felt I could have," Lehman said. "I haven't played my best over the last few years, and I definitely would like to regain my top game and my top form because I think my top form is still plenty good to be very competitive with the rest of this tour."