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Tom Lehman hopes for playing Ryder Cup role

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman launched his bid for a playing role with a first round 10-under-par 62 at the $4.5 million Buick Invitational.

Not happy to direct from the stands during the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland, Lehman wants to lead the charge against Europe on the course as well.

"To me, it's a goal, a dream, I'd like to be able to play well to be on the team," said Lehman, whose 10-under on Thursday was one shot short of the Torrey Pines North course record set by Mark Brooks in 1990.

"It would be a unique situation. People have always talked about that. Tom Kite could have been on the team when he was a captain," said Lehman, who played in three Ryder Cups during the 1990s.

"It's a long way off and I haven't won a tournament since 2000. It would be an upset if I made the team at this point. But if my game keeps progressing, you never know.

"That would be something that would be very cool for me," added Lehman, who closed his round with six consecutive birdies for a one-shot lead over Dean Wilson.

Lehman's last win was at the Phoenix Open five years ago and the 45-year-old has a lot of work ahead to end his drought against a field that includes the world's top four players -- Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.

But the 1996 British Open champion has been playing some of his best golf since the end of last season, having sharpened his short game and focus.

"I've been focused since last August or early September," said Lehman. "It just kind of clicked, you know, the things I've been working on with my short game.

"I guess I'm pretty much at peace with my game, and I've got a great family, great life.

"So I really feel like I'm kind of hitting on the same things that I used to hit on when I was playing my best.

"The same things, patience and ball control, put it in play, put it in the right spot on the green, don't make too many mistakes and make a few putts."


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