|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
KITCHENAID SENIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA DAY
April 23, 2018
JULIUS MASON: Good morning, everyone. I'm the PGA of America's Julius Mason, and I'd like to thank you very much for joining us today as we celebrate the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and our defending champion, Mr.Bernhard Langer today. To kick things off, please welcome the president of the PGA of America, Mr.Paul Levy. Paul, as a brief refresher for everybody in the room, could you please talk a little bit about who the PGA of America is and what our place is in the golf space?
PAUL LEVY: Yeah, I will, but first of all, I just want to say it's great to be back here in Michigan and seeing the golf carts out there and people getting to play a little golf. The PGA of America, our professionals, they're people who teach the game every day, play the game at a very high level. There's a tangible connection to the members and the people who love this game. They also operate golf facilities, and really our focus is to grow the game through interest and participation and just get more people playing this great game.
JULIUS MASON: We do have 41 PGA of America sections around the country. One of those sections is the Michigan PGA section, which is located not too far from here in East Lansing.
PAUL LEVY: It is. The Michigan PGA is one of our great sections, has over 800 members, and they do exactly what I just said. That's what their professionals do every day. We are glad to have Bob Bales with us, the section vice president with us, John Lindert, who is on our national board of directors and a good friend, Kyle Holmes, and our good friend Ross, who's the director of golf here, and Kyle, who's the general manager that we'll be working with here, and also (indiscernible) up event today, so your day off, and you're out working, right? There you go, just like a good PGA professional.
JULIUS MASON: Paul, while many people know that the PGA of America grows and teaches the game, many don't know that we also run major events.
PAUL LEVY: You know, that's a key component of what we do. Kerry Haigh does, the people here on the media team and you, Julius, are at these events, and besides the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, which has just been a huge success since we started that event a few years ago, and our Ryder Cup this year in Paris, which I think will be pretty exciting, we also have our 100th anniversary of the PGA Championship coming up at Bellerive in St.Louis. Putting on those tournaments is a major statement about the PGA of America being about a multitude of things, our professionals playing golf, teaching golf, and hosting some of the greatest championships in the game.
JULIUS MASON: It comes probably as no surprise to anyone here that the Senior PGA Championship does have the strongest field in golf, but our field is also very unique.
PAUL LEVY: You know, it is. To get in this championship, first of all, any of the major winners from the Masters, the U.S.Open, the Open, the PGA Championship in the past, they're invited. Of course players off the Champions Tour, and for us, very special, 35 of our top PGA club professionals who qualify through the Senior PGA Professional Championship, which was held in Arizona back in November. In fact, PGA member from Michigan Brian Cairns from Northville, he'll have a little home‑field advantage and be playing this tournament right along with Mr.Langer and others that play the tournament.
JULIUS MASON: Paul, thanks very much. Ladies and gentlemen, now please welcome KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship general chair Sam Abdelnour. Sam, we're back here for the fourth consecutive major championship here played here at Harbor Shores. You have 1,700 volunteers. How?
SAM ABDELNOUR: That's a great question. You know, it's 1,700 volunteers, but probably more importantly and more astoundingly is over a third of those 1,700 people will be here for the fourth year, and those 1,700 volunteers will work 30,000 hours during this championship, and they range in age from 14 to 91. So I think it's the community embracing them the way we do I think is what southwest Michigan has to offer, that keeps them coming back, and I think it's just a great week to be around Benton Harbor and Harbor Shores.
JULIUS MASON: Diving a little deeper, what is so special about this community that keeps everybody coming back?
SAM ABDELNOUR: Yeah, you know, there are 23 communities that make up southwest Michigan, and you'd never know that it wasn't one big community. It's everybody working together. It's everybody doing what's best for the community and for each other, and I think when you come here, whether you're a visitor or you come here to live, you see that and embrace that right away, and I think that it makes us special.
And I know everybody all around the world thinks their community is special, but I'm telling you, this one is more special. (Laughter.) And I've put it up against a lot of communities.
JULIUS MASON: Well, with this major championship returning so frequently to the southwest Michigan area, how has this local community benefitted since 2012?
SAM ABDELNOUR: You know, this is our fourth one, and we bring such a diverse, international crowd to southwest Michigan to partake in this tournament, not just the players but the spectators, and frankly even the volunteers, it gives people an opportunity to see what we do here, to understand what southwest Michigan and southwest Michigan hospitality is all about, and I think it's amazing the number of people we see here throughout the year, and then during the off years, that come back to visit and spend time here, and a lot of times you'll meet folks and you'll say, what brought you to southwest Michigan, and they'll say, we saw the tournament on TV and couldn't believe the beauty of the golf course and the surrounding area. We got to spend a few days here during the tournament, and we just wanted to come back here and explore more. So we're very lucky.
JULIUS MASON: Sam, thank you very much. Next, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome from Benton Harbor, the director of global partnerships for KitchenAid, Deb O'Connor. Deb, I think if anyone knows how much we, the PGA of America, enjoy returning to Benton Harbor, it's you. Can you tell us a little bit how the town and the community has changed since the last time we were here in 2016?
DEB O'CONNOR: Yeah, it seems like it's this time every two years that I look back and say, what's happening, what are we going to talk about, and it's amazing, every single time there's a lot to talk about.
Recently, Harbor Shores broke ground on Harbor Village, the newest development. It's the largest, and it's going to connect‑‑ you can see it there on the screen. It's located just east of the inn along the river and the marina, and there's going to be a pedestrian bridge from Harbor Village, St.Joe, to Benton Harbor Main Street, so that's also an opportunity hopefully for potential new growth as that connects.
The North Pier Brewery, it's between holes 13 and 14, and yes, it is a brewery on a golf course, which is awesome, but they opened in 2016, the week of the championship was their opening, and they have been expanding ever since, and now they're selling beer statewide, so that's another great example of the growth.
In 2017 alone, there were eight new business expansions and two new companies in the area. It just keeps getting better.
JULIUS MASON: Every year, KitchenAid delivers some of the biggest names in the culinary world to the championship. What can fans expect this year, and what celebrities will we see in the KitchenAid Fairway Club?
DEB O'CONNOR: Well, first let me mention, this is our first year at Harbor Shores as the title sponsor, so you're going to see a whole different entrance, and there's going to be a ton of activity in the courtyard right there all week long, and that's where the KitchenAid Fairway Club will be, and yes, we have some great celebrity chefs. We have Adam Richman from the Cooking Channel and the Food Network. We have Carla Hall from The Chew, and then we have Justin Chapple, he's the culinary director for Food and Wine Magazine, and he's famous for doing kitchen hacks, so it should be really interesting to just find new ways to cook your favorite recipe. We also have some local chefs participating, Tim Foley from the Bread Bar, Cheyenne Galbraith from the Bistro, and Mike Kenat from Salt of the Earth, so a lot of great culinary activity, and then there's one more thing I want to mention because it's really important and really exciting. For the first time we are going to have a KitchenAid shopping spree, so people that come in and get their tickets, just scan the back of their ticket is all they have to do, and they will be eligible for $5,000 worth of kitchen appliances, KitchenAid kitchen appliances. But not just Thursday, not just Friday, but Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. One person each day will win $5,000 worth of appliances.
JULIUS MASON: $5,000 Thursday, Friday, Saturday‑‑ are PGA staff eligible for this? Deb, thank you very much. Now, ladies and gentlemen, for some details specifically about the operations of the championship, please welcome one of your own, the championship director of this major, Ryan Ogle. Ryan, you have made Benton Harbor your home now for it's got to be five years I'm guessing, and in a really weird way, isn't this sort of PGA of America's home away from home? It sort of feels like that.
RYAN OGLE: It's become that, and as Deb mentioned, this is our first championship with KitchenAid as the title sponsor. We're really excited about that. High expectations to meet, and I think I'm a little biased, I think we've got one of the best yet to come. But it's home. I've really enjoyed being a part of this community. I've never been a part of a community that is so close and so supportive of everyone. A lot of our executive committee members are in the audience there, it's grass‑roots, and it's everything like that that makes this championship successful.
JULIUS MASON: After what Deb just shared with us, I'm guessing people are going to want to buy tickets for this event.
RYAN OGLE: Tickets are just $25. They're extremely affordable. There's still many remaining out there. What we're really doing this year is finding ways to increase the value receipt. So with tickets, juniors age 17 and under, you can get up to four in free. Military members, active and retired, can come and bring a guest. So enhancing that ticket, and we've done a few things on the course that will do that, as well. We've partnered with Maker's Trail (phonetic). You talk about a brewery on the course, we're going to fill that brewery with about four different breweries and wineries and distilleries. It's an upgraded venue next to 16 and 17, it's all local wine, local spirits, we think it'll be a lot of fun. On top of that, kids' zone, we've got the YMCA Kids' Zone, so we've got a place you can go and enjoy the championship Friday, Saturday and Sunday, because it is really a family event, and we want to make sure we highlight that and have opportunities with Michigan PGA professionals giving lessons.
JULIUS MASON: Sam, you had a thought?
SAM ABDELNOUR: Yeah, I look at the audience, and I look at the number of people just in the audience here that are so important to the championship and to what we do in this community, but I wanted to point out one person in particular, Mr.Fred Upton, our representative from Washington, D.C., and what a great‑‑
FRED UPTON: I'm from St.Joe.
SAM ABDELNOUR: Good answer. I just wanted to point out what a great supporter he and all the folks in the audience have been for the championship.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much. Ryan, back to you, I've been hearing some rumors about concerts during the week, speaking of special events happening next month.
RYAN OGLE: Yeah, so we have two special concerts during the week. For the third year in a row, the third championship in a row, the leadership of World Global Corporation and KitchenAid have been so gracious along with community partners to put on a free community concert downtown Benton Harbor the Thursday night of our championship. This year we've got some Grammy‑nominated bands, the Whispers and Morris Day and the Time are going to rock the house downtown and build a stage, and we're going to have a lot of fun. And for the first time we're going to actually host a championship concert at our event Saturday night after play is over at our main entrance. We're going to have a local band, Slim Gypsy Baggage, opening up for the Accidentals, which is a very hot up‑and‑coming band out of the Grand Rapids/Traverse City area. It'll be the first time ever, again, adding value, and the best part about that is anyone that's here Saturday, they've got a ticket to the championship, they can stick around for the free concert, and we're going to have a lot of fun.
JULIUS MASON: No ticket, no shopping spree. After we end later on today, if anyone can come up here and sing the full "Jungle Love" song by Morris Day and the Time, we will give you a free Harbor Shores shirt. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a hand to all of our guests up here. And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage the 2017 Senior PGA champion, Bernhard Langer. Bernhard, welcome back to Benton Harbor. We were all sort of watching you last night. Are you sick of Playoffs?
BERNHARD LANGER: Usually not, but the last two haven't been that fun to tell you the truth. It's great to be in a playoff, but it's not fun being on the losing side. But no matter what, we'll keep trying, right?
JULIUS MASON: Today is about learning as much as we possibly can about you, but also having a little fun along the way, if you don't mind. Let's turn it back a little bit and start from the beginning. We know you're from Germany, but we want to know where you were born, where you grew up, and when you started playing golf.
BERNHARD LANGER: As you can see, Augsburg is my hometown, down in the south, what I like to call the best part of the country. North of Frankfurt, we don't consider that‑‑
JULIUS MASON: We're not going to go there.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I was introduced to golf, I come from a poor family, poor background, monetary‑wise, and I have an older brother and older sister, and my older brother went to caddie and came home with a few Deutsche Marks in his pocket. So when I was about eight and a half, nine years old, I begged him to take me along. We had one golf course within about 30 miles, and it was five miles away, and we could ride our bicycles there, so it was pretty convenient. Anyways, I started caddying when I was nine, earned a bit of money. So my first love was the game of golf was really not for the game of golf, it was for money.
But it didn't take long until I got the golf bug, and we were able to play as caddies. Funny story really, none of us caddies‑‑ there was about 12 of them, we couldn't afford any clubs. So there was a member who gave a few clubs away because he bought a new set and gave us some of the old ones, so we had four clubs, a 2‑wood, a 3‑iron, a 7‑iron, no wedges, and a putter with a bent shaft, so now you can understand some of my putting.
JULIUS MASON: You turned professional at a pretty young age, considering, right, after your stint of caddying?
BERNHARD LANGER: Very young age, yeah. I just went to the basic schooling of nine years. Actually my parents sent me to a higher school. We have a different school system over there, but after fifth or sixth grade, you can go to the next level, it's higher school, and then go to college if you make it. Well, I intentionally failed the first three months in English, and now that's all I speak is English, and I have been for years. So I was sent back to my local school, which meant I could caddie every afternoon‑‑ you're not listening to this, right? Anyway, it all turned out okay. But yeah, I turned pro at the age of 15, as an assistant pro, went through the PGA, became an assistant, learned how to fix golf clubs, how to run tournaments, how to do a pro shop, how to give lessons, the whole spiel, had to learn English and all that kind of stuff, and it was a good time.
And in those years, three and a half years of that, I became a pretty decent player and then joined the TOUR when I was 18.
JULIUS MASON: So your first professional tournament win was the German National Open Championship, right? What do you remember about that?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, it was actually the German National closed championship, so only German passport holders could play, not the German Open. I was 17, I won in a playoff, and that's when I ran into a businessman from Cologne, and he probably saw something special in me. He came over to me afterwards and said, if you ever want to play the TOUR, I will help you financially, and I said, I would love to do that once I'm done with my apprenticeship, and yeah, a year later, we struck a deal where he gave me about 2,000 Deutsche Marks a month and I gave him half my winnings, and it was good for him and it was good for me.
JULIUS MASON: Many of your contemporaries now have said there's not a more focused, dedicated, disciplined athlete out here on TOUR. Where did you get your discipline, your incredible work ethic, and were you this way in your teens, in your 20s, in your 30s?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I was pretty much that way all my life. I think I learned that from my parents, the hard work, the discipline they had, the tough life they really had to live to just provide enough food, and so I learned that early on in my life, that there wasn't a whole lot of play time or vacation time, it was all about doing chores and doing the right thing. That's where it came from.
And then I'm very blessed with tremendous athletic gifts, I suppose, good hand‑eye coordination, and I'm very competitive. So if you put me into anything, I like to win. If we play ping‑pong, I'm going to try and beat you, whatever it may be. It's just the way I am made.
JULIUS MASON: You have got to explain what in the world you're wearing here.
BERNHARD LANGER: One of my favorite outfits.
JULIUS MASON: Is that a workout outfit‑‑
BERNHARD LANGER: No, it's definitely not a workout‑‑ we don't wear white gloves to work out. I don't know what I was doing in the fitness center. The media can take a guess. No, I remember wearing that outfit actually. I think it was the week after I won my first Masters, and I wore this one at Hilton Head, and I won back‑to‑back weeks, so that was pretty fun. I like bright colors. Actually when I was Ryder Cup captain, the one we don't want to talk about, I was the captain, and I learned that every person has favorite colors, and some colors make you feel better about yourself than other colors, so I put a little time studying that, and I tried to design our clothes according to certain colors, like red is an aggressive color, you always see Tiger Woods wearing a red shirt on Sundays.
JULIUS MASON: You are also a health nut. We understand that. Do you exercise every day?
BERNHARD LANGER: Almost every day. I'm going to put it that way. I haven't exercised today yet and probably not going to, but I believe you just feel better. You have more energy. You feel more alert. You just feel better about life in general. I need to stretch a lot. I figured that out. I'm kind of stiff. Some people are very loose and limber. I'm not that type. I've had a back injury. When I was doing my national service in Germany at the age of 19, I had a stress fracture and a bulging disc in my lower back, which about finished me off before I even started my career, but I made it throughout without any operations so far, and I think a lot of that is down to just staying in shape and training the core muscles around here to protect your back and make you limber enough. I'm 60 now. If we compare Gary Player, who is, what, 80 something, I think, to some of his compatriots, Gary can still make a 90‑degree shoulder turn on the backswing almost. Other guys at that age, they're struggling to make a 60‑degree shoulder turn.
JULIUS MASON: I think what everybody here wants to know is if we drink this famous smoothie that you drink all the time, will we look like you when you're 60?
BERNHARD LANGER: Definitely, guaranteed.
JULIUS MASON: We've got to do this. We know you do drink. How often do you drink? First of all, before we sip this, what's in this thing, and tell us the secret ingredient. When you hear this, you are all going to be able to test taste this famous longer smoothie right now, if you dare.
BERNHARD LANGER: At least try it. I think it's delicious. It obviously depends how much fruit you put in there, whether you like bananas or berries or whatever, but you can see some of the ingredients, and you can add some of your own. But it's mostly protein powder with a lot of the other products, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, almonds, blueberries, walnuts, cumin, all that healthy stuff, and I like berries, I like bananas, so I mix it all up. Here's an oatmeal that will be good for you‑‑
JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, that very secret ingredient is missing is berries, so I don't want anybody taking a picture of this and Tweeting it out, or we're going to confiscate your mobile phone. So thanks to the KitchenAid Pro Line series blender with thermal control jar, we're going to taste it. It's not bad. I'm not quite sure how many berries are in there right now, but that's not bad.
Is this your invention? Is it your recipe? Did you steal it someplace? Where did you find this?
BERNHARD LANGER: It just kind of developed over the years. I experimented with it, and I did read things about what is healthy, and I tried it out, and then if I liked it, I'll add to it. If not, it gets kicked out.
JULIUS MASON: Do you consume it when you are competing?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, mostly at home because it's kind of not easy to find all this on the road, and I have a blender with me, as well. But when I'm home about half the year, this is usually how I'll start my morning.
JULIUS MASON: Does the family drink it?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, my wife likes it. She doesn't put any fruit in it. She thinks there's too much sugar in it, but I love sugar.
JULIUS MASON: Let's keep going here for a second now. You are a two‑time Masters champion, '85 and '93, and you were inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. For you as you look at this, what's the bigger accomplishment?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, you know, without the majors, I wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame, I guess, so it all goes hand in hand. They've all been milestones in my career. I've been very blessed to have a long and healthy career. But they're very special moments for me. In one I look like a Christmas tree, the first one, and I already shared the red, and I wasn't so concerned about what I looked like, I was more concerned about winning the tournament. I learned that lesson a few years later and more a yellow shirt, which looked a little bit better with a green jacket.
You know, Hall of Fame is something every athlete would love to be a part of, and only very few achieve that, so I've been very blessed to be inducted into Hall of Fame, even at a fairly young age. Some people don't get there until they've passed away or until they're very old.
JULIUS MASON: Was that an emotional time for you?
BERNHARD LANGER: Very, yeah. Coming from Germany where the game of golf is not very recognized, it means that much more. If you grow up in America or Scotland where the game of golf is pretty popular, pretty huge, I think it's a different thing. But being the first German to ever win the German Open or anything on any Tour and then being inducted into the Hall of Fame in America in golf is pretty amazing.
JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a quiz for you right now. If you know the answer just yell out the name. Whoever yells out the name first will get a golf shirt from Ryan Ogle, wherever he is. The first time the world golf rankings came out was 1986. 1986, World Golf Rankings. Who was No.1?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Bernhard Langer.
JULIUS MASON: The answer is correct. Ryan, I hope you have a closet full of clothes. Size?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I prefer a medium so it's nice and tight like Bernhard's.
JULIUS MASON: Correct. Now, Bernhard, take a look at this. Some pretty amazing names on the very first world golf rankings list. When you see this, what maybe comes to your mind?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, there's a couple of things. They're all phenomenal players, mostly major winners, Ryder Cup players, just some of the best in the world.
JULIUS MASON: That's correct. There are also eight World Golf Hall of Famers and seven Ryder Cup captains. We've talked a little bit about the Ryder Cup earlier. You are one of the greatest Ryder Cup players of all time, and in these matches, you've played on 10 European teams, winning a total of 24 points. Can you talk a little bit about team golf, because I know how much you enjoy it. Talk about that, how you've been able to thrive so much in this competition which is just so pressured.
BERNHARD LANGER: It is. The Ryder Cup is very unique because you don't play for yourself, you don't‑‑ when I win or lose, it's my caddie and me. We either celebrate or we're not on the receiving end. But when you represent a Tour, a country, it's totally different. As I said earlier, I wasn't used to any team golf. I was never an amateur, never had an event, didn't play any match play event, just became pro at a very young age, and as pros we don't play team golf. The only thing we ever play is the Ryder Cup every two years and the World Cup, and that was it. So I just loved the idea of having a partner and being involved in a team and sitting in the team room and having jokes and sharing stories and actually becoming close friends with the guys that I usually tried to beat. A very unique circumstance. We had 12 guys on a team and a captain, and we try to beat each other's brains out on a regular week, and now we're in a room and trying to pull for each other, giving each other tips, helping each other along, encouraging each other, and creating these close relationships. Those are really moments and the pressure are the special times I take away from the Ryder Cup.
JULIUS MASON: Outside of being a team member, the Ryder Cup is over 100 years old right now, and there have only been 25 European Ryder Cup captains in the history of the event. You were honored to be the European Ryder Cup captain in 2004. Was captaincy something that you really wanted? Was it a dream come true for you?
BERNHARD LANGER: It was definitely something I had hoped to have the honor to do one time, but there's no guarantees because you can't just say, I want to be Ryder Cup captain. You know, you have to be nominated. We have a committee in Europe. I don't know how it's done over here. Probably the same way. And they say, we've chosen you, would you like to take this job in two years or whatever, and it was a thrill for me to have that honor, and I knew it would be difficult to be captain in America because it's much easier to play‑‑ to be captain at home and play on home turf when the majority of the crowd and the fans are for you and not against you, and the Ryder Cup is a lot more so for and against than a regular golf tournament. So it was a great honor, and when I got the job and I knew, I made a few phone calls. I called up Franz Beckenbauer. Some of you may be soccer fans. He was one of the greatest soccer players. He was the national coach for the soccer team and the president of the Bayern Munich. He gave me a couple tips, what you do to bring all these superstars together and make them play as a team because most of them were primadonnas and they just looked out for themselves, and it's similar in golf.
JULIUS MASON: That's a good point. You play this individual sport your whole life, now you're supposed to lead a team of 12 of the world's best players. How do you turn the switch?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, exactly. It's not that simple. So I took a bit of time to learn more about that, and I figured what I learned the most was communication. It is extremely important to communicate to each and every one of my players, because the tricky part about the Ryder Cup is I have 12 players on my team but only eight are playing on Friday morning and eight are playing on Friday afternoon, eight on Saturday morning, eight on Saturday‑‑ so a third of my players are not actually playing, and they need to be happy. They need to know why. Some of them might think, oh, he doesn't like me or whatever. We have complicated brains that go‑‑ so I had to communicate to each and every one of them, hey, you're one of the best, you earned your way here, and you're not playing this morning because so‑and‑so and not because I don't like you or you're not good enough, because you are. Get ready, get prepared.
Anyway, just a lot more going into a Ryder Cup captain than just showing up and, okay, I'm the captain, I make the choice of who plays and who doesn't, and you guys just get ready and we'll have a good time.
JULIUS MASON: So I spoke with absolutely everybody in the room before we began the news conference today, absolutely everyone. They all promised they wouldn't share what you're about to share with us right now. Look at the team back in 2004, who was the class clown?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, the class clown would be Thomas Levet.
JULIUS MASON: Why?
BERNHARD LANGER: He's next to Monty there. He's just that kind of guy. He's just always happy and always has a joke ready. He was great with the people. Some said we looked so well because we embraced the American crowd, we signed autographs, went out of our way to take pictures, and Thomas did. He was one of the best, spent enormous amounts of time interacting with the people and being that way, and he was just fun. We had a ping‑pong table out there. He was very good at that. We just had a phenomenal time. But each individual brought something special to it. I see Jiménez there on the top left. I called every one of them, and I said, what would you like me to do for you, is there anything you need that week, and most of them said, no, I'm okay. But Jiménez said, yeah, I need cigars, I need a good red wine, and I want some olive oil. I'm like, you got it, man, whatever makes you happy. There's a lot of characters there.
JULIUS MASON: For those of you that don't know, Bernhard did‑‑ his European team did beat the Americans 18? to 9? in the largest margin ever in the history of the Ryder Cup, just about three hours from here in Detroit. We don't like reminding him of that, but you couldn't have possibly seen that outcome when you were coming over.
BERNHARD LANGER: No way, no. The American team was very strong. They had the best players all healthy and playing pretty good leading up to it. We were playing on American soil. I believe we had never won on American soil to that point. Would that be correct, the European team?
JULIUS MASON: 2004?
BERNHARD LANGER: Anyways, whatever it is, if we ever won, it was only once. I don't think we ever won up until that‑‑ it's not easy, that's what I'm saying. It's certainly not easy.
So my hope was to have a close Ryder Cup and maybe squeeze in a victory by a point or something like that. My prayer was something different, though. There's a Bible verse, I think it's in Ephesians that says, we can do measurably more for those who believe in me and who is with you, and I'm a believer and I believe in Jesus Christ, and so because we're believers, we can do measurably more if he blesses us, and he certainly did that week, and we prayed that prayer every morning. I don't pray to win, I just pray to be the best that I can be and have an impact on other people. He knows the outcome, but I just want to give honor to him.
JULIUS MASON: Do you see much of Hal Sutton anymore over the years?
BERNHARD LANGER: A lot, yeah. We played on the Champions Tour for many years. Now the last year or two he hasn't been out much, but yeah, for many years I've been out there with him, and I respect him.
JULIUS MASON: Let's focus now on part of your career. In 2007 you turned 50 years old, and you made an immediate impact on the Senior Tour, which led you to becoming one of the best senior players ever. Let's take a look at this slide here of some of your accomplishments. You were scorer of the year six times, Player of the Year seven times, money leader nine times. Look at this list and tell me, is your senior career better than your regular career was?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think it is. Yeah, even when I look at that, it's hard to imagine. To be the money winner actually every year except 2011 when I had some surgery and I was out for about six months, I've been the money winner every year I've been on the Champions Tour except for the one year, and that's very difficult to do. I mean, I'm playing against some of the greatest players in the world, playing better than I've ever played, the same guys I competed against really in my younger days. You name it, they're pretty much out there. And Player of the Year is a very special award because it's voted upon by your peers, not by anybody else, and the scoring average is, again, something that is not easy to do because you play in different conditions, different golf courses, also environments, and you've got to have an all‑around great game to be the scoring leader.
So I've been enormously blessed, and I think I've gotten somewhat better with my technique, with my outlook in life, with my mental approach over the years. I still feel even now at age 60 that I can get better, and some people think you've got to be crazy. I think, no. You can have a better technique. You can always improve your technique. You can have a better mental outlook on the game. You can still become a better chipper and putter, and yes, I'm going to lose strength, I'm going to lose flexibility, I'm going to lose distance, but I can make up for that by being better in other areas of the game.
JULIUS MASON: Talk about the career Grand Slam. You accomplished that feat after your victory in our nation's capital.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yes, this was the one that was missing in the collection. I've won all the others up until that stage, and I came very close to winning the Senior PGA Championship a couple of times. One time I think it was Jay Haas that just got ahead of me with a few holes to go, and it always seemed to be that somebody just was playing brilliantly and I was second or third or fifth or something like that. It finally happened at PGA Seniors last year.
JULIUS MASON: And for those of you who weren't in our nation's capital last year, here's a little reminder of how Bernhard won his Senior PGA.
JULIUS MASON: So you got World Golf Hall of Famer Vijay Singh breathing down your neck. You're playing a very difficult golf course. We've talked about Ryder Cup and match play. What's going through your mind on this final Sunday?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, you try to forget all that and just focus on what's at hand, and we all say that the next shot is the most important, but it's very difficult to do. Very, very hard to do. I remember when I first led‑‑ I was 19 on the European Tour, I led the Irish Open by two shots with nine holes to go, and I hit my tee shot, and I'm walking towards my ball down there, and I'm thinking, wow, what are you going to do with all the money you're going to win, what are you going to say at the prize ceremony. I had never given a public speech until that point. And sure enough, three holes later, I wasn't leading anymore and I didn't win. So you learn those lessons the hard way. I was trying not to get ahead of myself. I knew Vijay would be very difficult to‑‑ and a very tough competitor, Hall of Famer, major winner, and this golf course really favored him because he hits the ball quite a bit further than I do off the tee, and usually drives it pretty straight. So I knew I had my work cut out. But I also knew that if I played well, I could probably pull it off. And I putted better than he did and played a very good last round of four good rounds and finally edged ahead of him.
JULIUS MASON: Do you ever hear small talk in the locker rooms where some of your competitors are saying, how in the world is this 60‑year‑old German beating us out here?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't hear much of that. Sometimes they say, why don't you take a week off. I joke back and say, if you pay me some disappearance fee I might, but I haven't received any yet.
JULIUS MASON: So you also became the all‑time leader in senior major victories, nine, breaking the previous record by Jack Nicklaus with that win last year, which was the 10th. Was it pretty cool to see this, from of all people, Jack Nicklaus? Did you see that?
BERNHARD LANGER: I did see that, and it's pretty cool. Jack is a great guy. What a wonderful example, just like Arnold Palmer was for most of us. They've been longtime friends, Jack and Barbara, his wife, and for him to say that is incredible, because he is certainly one of the greatest competitors, and to say keep on winning and keep going was very special.
JULIUS MASON: This looks like a very special moment, speaking of Jack.
BERNHARD LANGER: It sure was. Everybody knows that moment when he won his sixth Masters, sixth green jacket at age 46, and‑‑
JULIUS MASON: Do you remember what position you were in on that Sunday?
BERNHARD LANGER: I remember being in contention. I was right there. But didn't have as good a Sunday as he did, and was able to slip the jacket on him, and I'll obviously never forget that moment. He made history with that victory, and many of us are now trying to somehow pull something off that he did, winning a major at an older age.
JULIUS MASON: Last night we had a chance to preview your champions dinner. How did the champions dinner go? And let everybody know what you selected for the champions meal.
BERNHARD LANGER: I thought it was awesome. Very, very authentic, very good. I chose, as you can see there, just a salad for starter, and then one of my favorite meals over at home was always wiener schnitzel, and the red cabbage was outstanding, by the way, very, very, good, and the spätzle and everything was fantastic, but my favorite was really the dessert. Who doesn't like apple strudel?
JULIUS MASON: I don't get how you can eat all this food and still look like that at 60. Can you put any of this in a blender and make it work?
BERNHARD LANGER: I wouldn't recommend it. It might taste it, but I don't think it would look good.
JULIUS MASON: So I guess we have a bit of sad news to share with everyone today. You, in fact, won't be here next month to host your champions dinner or to compete in the championship, will you?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I won't be, and the reason is our youngest son, he's 18 now, he's graduating from high school on that very same weekend. Family always comes first in my life, so I've got to be there to support him, to celebrate him moving on to college. He will go to the University of Pennsylvania and go to the Wharton School, business school there and also play golf. I wouldn't want to miss that. I'm going to miss competing for this, but hopefully there will be more chances in the future.
JULIUS MASON: We're definitely very sad. A wonderful reason, but we're also talking about a lot of money. Is there a certain amount of money that would bring you back here? The PGA of America president is sitting right there, so it's a great opportunity right now.
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I'll be there with my son Jason, and hopefully we'll see you in a year from now.
JULIUS MASON: We're going to certainly miss you next month, but news media, this is absolutely ridiculous, you people move very, very quick in the media world, social media. Pat, I'm going to send this to you and Gordon quickly. See if you can't pull this up on the screen. News just got out pretty quickly of Bernhard not playing our championship, ladies and gentlemen.
JULIUS MASON: I don't think any of your playing competitors are going to miss you one lick being there next month. Have you seen "Anchorman"? It's pretty funny, right? Well, this is a great opportunity right now. What's Bernhard's favorite movie of all time, do you know?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I would go with Gladiator. Something action.
JULIUS MASON: Is she spot on?
BERNHARD LANGER: Pretty close, yeah.
JULIUS MASON: I think it works. Let's quickly move to Harbor Shores for a second. You have played all the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championships at Harbor Shores. You've had top‑5 finishes in all of them, so I'm guessing you like the golf course, but then I think you finish top‑5 in everything you play, so maybe you like every golf course around the country.
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I definitely like this golf course. My first round I played here years ago, practice round, I immediately said to my caddie, this is a special place. I thought it was tee to green one of the best courses I've ever played. I did feel that some of the greens were a little bit severe, but there's a reason for all that, and I can see why Jack did what he did now. Good shots get‑‑ you get a benefit from it and you can make a bunch of birdies, and if you don't hate it in the right quadrant or the right place you get punished. You might make a three‑putt, you might even make a four‑putt. That can happen out here. It's a very demanding golf course. Fairly wide off the tee at times, but very punishing in other areas, and I really love it, and I've enjoyed competing out here. I know I haven't won, but hopefully I get a chance in the near future.
JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, how about a hand for our defending champion?
Some housekeeping, ladies and gentlemen. Next up we're going to invite all media to come up and do a media scrum with Bernhard Langer up on stage, and we'd like to invite everyone else out on the practice range for our celebrity skills challenge, and what we're going to see out there is going to be very entertaining. I would also like these people, our celebrity guests, that will be joining us in the skills challenge to stand up in the room.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports