NORTON, MA – Minnesota native Tom Lehman, is known for many achievements. The long list starts with former leading money winner on both the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, British Open champion and member of the victorious 1999 Ryder Cup team at The Country Club. Now honored with the 19th Francis Ouimet Award for Lifelong Contributions to Golf. Lehman was also the guest speaker at the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund’s 66th Annual Banquet in front of a blue ribbon audience of 1,100 on Monday, April 11 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. The Banquet, which has become the largest annual golf dinner in America, was presented, again, by The Connolly Group – Morgan Stanley.
Francis Ouimet Award for Lifelong Contributions to Golf: A special plaque was presented to Tom Lehman.
“Our Boston audience was thrilled to hear from Tom Lehman and our Master of Ceremonies, David Marr III. A special highlight was hearing Tom speak of what he describes as his greatest week in golf: the 1999 Ryder Cup which was held at The Country Club in nearby Brookline. That Ryder Cup will live forever in Boston golf lore and Tom’s role as first off and starting the Sunday comeback is truly unforgettable,” said Gregory J. Gailius, Ouimet Fund President, said. “In addition to that, Tom is widely regarded as one of the game’s ‘good guys’, and is so dedicated to charity, his faith and community service. He was a wonderful Ouimet Award honoree.”
The Francis Ouimet Award for Lifelong Contributions to Golf became part of the Ouimet Annual Banquet when Arnold Palmer was honored in 1997. Subsequent honorees have been Gene Sarazen, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Ken Venturi & Eddie Lowery, Former President George H.W. Bush, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Nancy Lopez, Greg Norman, Peter Jacobsen, Jack & Barbara Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Annika Sorenstam, Mark O’Meara, and Mr. Ouimet himself in 2013, the Centennial of his historic U.S. Open victory. New Englander Brad Faxon was the 2015 honoree.
Lehman has experienced success at every level of golf as he’s the only player in history to finish the season atop the PGA (1996), Champions (2011) and Web.com (1991) tour money lists. He overcame a rocky start to his career but persevered, finishing within the top 75 of the TOUR’s money list for 13 seasons in a row. Lehman won five times on Tour, including the 1996 British Open Championship, and capped the year with The Tour Championship and was named Player of the Year. Lehman has represented the United States six times in international competition, appearing on three Ryder Cup (1995, 1997 and 1999) teams and three President Cup (1994, 1996, and 2000) squads. Captain Ben Crenshaw chose Lehman to lead off singles play in the 1999 Ryder Cup at the Country Club in Brookline. Lehman responded by defeating Lee Westwood 3&2 and igniting the USA’s historic comeback. He went on to become Ryder Cup Captain in 2006, a Vice Captain in 2010, and will be Vice-Captain of the Ryder Cup Team this year at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in his home state of Minnesota.
Mr. Lehman has continued with great success on the Champions Tour, including the Senior PGA Championship in 2010. In 2011 he won three times, finishing atop the money list, and capturing the Charles Schwab Cup. One of those 2011 titles was the Tradition, another major, which he successfully defended in 2012. The momentum has continued as he has been in the top 20 of the season-ending money list from 2012 – 2015. Altogether, he was nine victories on the Champions Tour and is currently 4th on the 2016 money list and 30th in all-time Champions Tour earnings. He opened the season with a runner-up finish to Duffy Waldorf at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. He has also branched out into golf course design, with several highly acclaimed projects.
He is highly regarded for his numerous charitable involvements and deep religious conviction and has been honored with the Payne Stewart and Byron Nelson Awards.
Tom and his wife, Melissa, currently reside in Scottsdale, Arizona and are the proud parents of Thomas, Jr., Rachel, Holly and Sean. He annually teams up with Tom Jr. at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
Scholarships: The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund announced that it anticipates its annual scholarship awards will increase in 2016-2017 with a goal in the $100,000 range. Currently, the Fund is awarding $1.7 Million annually. Through this academic year, the Ouimet Fund has awarded nearly $30 Million to 5,400 scholars since its inception in 1949.
James E. Lehman Scholarship: Part of the Banquet proceeds will be dedicated to the creation of a permanently endowed Ouimet scholarship in the name of Tom Lehman’s late father, James E. Lehman. Mr. Lehman was a fine college athlete who played professional football briefly. In later years, Mr. Lehman owned an insurance business in the Alexandria, MN area where sons Tom, Jim and Mike Lehman grew up and played football, basketball and golf. He died in 2009.
Connolly Distinguished Service Award: Another highlight of the evening included the presentation of the 19th “Richard F. Connolly, Jr. Distinguished Service Award” to former Ouimet Fund President’s Richard M. Reilly (2010-2012) and Terrence G. Kennedy (2012-2014). The two were jointly honored for their combined special efforts in the planning and execution of the many programs leading up to, during and after the celebration of the Centennial of Francis Ouimet’s historic 1913 U.S. Open victory.
Other Announcements: Daniel Anastos, who worked on the course superintendent’s crew at Larry Gannon Municipal Golf Couse in Lynn, Massachusetts and is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was the Student Speaker. Dan will be graduating with a 3.2 GPA and a degree in Turf Science and Management from UMass in May.
Golf Channel Champions Tour host Dave Marr III served as Master of Ceremonies.
Founded in 1949, the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund is the second largest “caddie fund” in the U.S. behind the Evans Fund, and largest in any one state. Ouimet Scholars have served at least two years as caddies or in pro shop or course superintendent operations in Massachusetts, and many of whom have gone on to outstanding positions of leadership in business and professional careers. The Ouimet Fund is a 501 (c) (3) organization and is considered, “The Golf Charity of Massachusetts™.”