LINKS PLAYERS TESTIMONY CARD

‘I FELT LIKE A FAILURE’

By Tom Lehman

I’ll never forget the day I won the British Open. All the awards ceremonies, the champagne toast with the R & A, the endless interviews.

What a feeling of exhilaration!

That night, I had dinner with a few of my friends. We stayed awake the whole night, sitting on the patio overlooking the Irish Sea, replaying every shot of the last round that led to my first major championship victory. It was a grand celebration—one of those peak moments in life.

I was part of a similar celebration when I was 15 years old and our football team won the Minnesota State High School Championship. I played third-string quarterback for the team that was the pride of Alexandria, the small Minnesota town where I grew up.

The whole town of 7,000 traveled to Minneapolis to watch us beat up on the biggest team in the state. The final score was 26-7.

When we returned to Alexandria, the team rode in on the town’s fire trucks down the city streets to the high school where a huge pep rally thundered in the auditorium. Kids were screaming. Parents were cheering. Moms were crying. Everyone was electrified with excitement. Except me.

As a third-string player I’d sat on the bench all season. Never played a game—not one down the entire year. I felt like I didn’t belong on the team. I felt like a failure. I felt worthless. Empty. And lonely.

These were feelings that had followed me all of my life. I was searching for something, but I didn’t know what. The football victories only made the feelings stronger, like I didn’t measure up. I felt guilty, because I wanted to be a good kid. I wanted to be a good athlete. A good student. But I could never measure up. I was never good enough. I felt like I didn’t matter.

I remember asking some pretty deep questions for a 15-year-old. Why am I here? What gives life meaning? Why am I so miserable? A lot of us have those questions.

It so happened that my football coach was also an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) “huddle” leader. He regularly invited the team to the FCA meetings. I put it off for a long time. Then I finally decided to go.

It was there that I heard things about God that I’d never heard before. Sure, I went to church every week, but as I heard someone once say, “You can stand in your garage for an hour every week, but that doesn’t make you a car.”

The kids at this meeting were talking about things like “unconditional love” and “eternal acceptance.” It really struck a chord. That’s what I need! I thought to myself. But I had no idea how to get it.

They went on to tell me about Jesus. They opened the Bible and explained to me how God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross and save me from my sins. This is incredible! You’re telling me that God did that for me—someone who doesn’t matter?! He loved me enough to do that?

Suddenly I felt like I did matter.

That night I prayed to receive Jesus as my Savior and started that relationship with Him—a relationship that’s lasted all my life.

Winning the British Open was a thrill of a lifetime. But I learned a long time ago that the thrill of victory is fleeting. It’s not long before you find yourself asking, What’s next?

As much as I longed to win a major championship, it didn’t change anything. I was still the same person as before. I had the same hang-ups, the same problems—and even some new ones.

The Bible says, “All men are like grass and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall.”

So what is it that lasts? The only thing that has given my life true meaning—my relationship with Jesus Christ.

COPYRIGHT 1995 LINKS PLAYERS INTERNATIONAL

  • Tom Lehman

    5 PGA Tour Wins (one major): 1994 Memorial, 1995 Colonial National Invitation, 1996 British Open Championship, 1996 Tour Championship, 2000 Phoenix Open

    10 Champions Tour wins (three majors): 2009 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (with Bernhard Langer), 2010 Senior PGA Championship, 2011 Allianz Championship, 2011 Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, 2011 Regions Tradition, 2012 Regions Tradition, 2012 Schwab Cup Championship, 2014 Encompass Championship, 2015 SAS Championship, 2017 Tucson Conquistadores Classic