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July 9, 2014

Bernhard Langer


THE MODERATOR: Welcome back to the media center. It's our pleasure to have Bernhard Langer here for the 35th United States Senior Open Championship here at Oak Tree National. Bernhard is playing in his seventh U.S. Senior Open, the winner back in 2010 at Sahalee. Bernhard, you have had a very distinguished Champions Tour career, but this possibly your greatest yet so far. Only halfway through but already three wins, three runner-up finishes and 11 top 10s in 12 events. Just talk about what's been clicking for you this year on the Champions Tour.

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, the whole game has been pretty solid. I'm hitting it pretty decent from tee to green and the putter is maybe a little bit better this year, just a fraction than in previous years. It shows in the scores. I'm feeling healthy, had no major injuries. You know, I'm pacing myself. I don't practice a whole lot when I'm home but work pretty hard when I get out. I'm still hungry and still willing to give it 100%.

THE MODERATOR: Now, your countryman, Martin Kaymer, won the U.S. Open a couple weeks ago down at Pinehurst. I'm sure you're glad to see that. You're also both Players champions, as well. Now both two-time major championship winners. Have you talked to him since his win down at Pinehurst?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, we have texted back and forth a number of times, and I was first of all thrilled for him, what a performance that was. It was very difficult to win a major and to win it by, what, eight or nine shots? It's just amazing. He played so solid and so well. I'm just very, very proud of him. He's a great young man besides being an accomplished golfer now. But it's good to see that it happens to good people, and, you know, hopefully it helps German golf a little bit, as well. We need, you know, some young guys that do well on the world scene to encourage younger people to pick up the game.

THE MODERATOR: We had Colin Montgomerie in here earlier, and he was asked a question about you and he compared you to the German football/soccer team, winning the World Cup. He said you're fit like a lot of them and you've been dominating the Champions Tour like they dominated Brazil yesterday. Have you had a chance to watch the World Cup? And how much have you enjoyed watching Germany advance?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I love soccer. I grew up playing soccer besides golf. Almost everybody in Germany enjoys soccer. I watch as much as I can. I missed the first few games because it was always at 12:00, 3:00, when we play tournament golf. But yesterday I was able to see the whole game, and it was certainly a thrill for me and very big surprise the way we won.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Monty also said that rarely do golfers get better after they are 40 years of age. You have done it at 50 and now 56, that you're better than ever. Do you agree with that?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, at times I feel I'm better than ever, but, you know, I have had very good years when I was in my 20s and 30s and 40s, so it's difficult to say and it's difficult to compare. But I still feel, as a golfer, because it's so technical and so mental, that you actually can get better because you have had more time to practice the swing and groove the swing and the certain technique and fine-tune it. Secondly, you're still learning about yourself and the mental part of the game and what shots you can probably pull off, what shots you can't pull off, and how to, you know, just to play the game in general. So I believe this is a very unique sport where you can still maintain a very high level. Whether I'm better or just 5% worse or 10, who knows? But, you know, on certain golf courses that are not 7,600 yards long, I think I can still compete with the very best.

Q. You said every aspect of your game is going pretty well right now. When we've asked players all week who is one of the guys to beat, your name is the first name to come out. People feel this course is the kind of course that every club in your bag needs to be going well. Do you feel you're a favorite going into this just because it's a demanding challenge for golf and your game is pretty good right now?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I'm not sure if I'm "the" favorite, but I'm probably one of the favorites. There are a lot of good players here in the field. I think the most important club this week is probably the driver. You have to drive it in the fairway. If you miss the greens -- or if you miss the fairways, you're going to have a very difficult time out of Bermuda rough to control the ball and even get the distance you need. Every green is perched up with lots of runoffs and deep bunkers. So if you can't come from the fairway where you hit the ball high with spin, coming out of the rough is going to be very, very hard. So whoever drives the ball well this week is going to be up there. Obviously you're still going to have to make some putts and make decent iron shots and chip and pitch and have some bunker game and all that. Everybody will miss a few shots. But I would think it's the hardest course I have ever played or one of the hardest courses the way it's set up right now. It's just extremely demanding. And if the wind blows on top of that, it's going to make it even harder.

Q. What was more impressive or maybe more surprising: Beating Brazil by 6 or Kaymer winning by 8?
BERNHARD LANGER: They are both incredible achievements. Neither one was expected, I think. If you had put money anywhere on those two results, you would have gotten incredible odds, and I think that tells it all.

Q. Getting to your golf game again, what is it about your game that's better now perhaps than it was in your prime, or maybe not your prime but in your younger years when you're playing the regular tour? Is there a part of your game that's actually gotten better?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think I drive the ball better than I ever have. That's part of where I have certainly improved. And my iron game was always somewhat decent, I think. Short game comes and goes here and there, but I think I drive the ball better. I have a better understanding of my swing and of my whole, you know, philosophy about how to play golf, when to attack, when not, and all that kind of stuff. But the driver certainly would be a big part. That's a major club in the bag. Two clubs you want to do well with, and that's the putter and the driver.

Q. With all the success you have had in the European Tour and here in the States, what keeps you motivated and keeps you going? Secondly, what are your goals from here forward for the rest of your career?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, what keeps me motivated, I love to compete. I love to play competitive golf and enjoy when the adrenaline is going through your body, just be in contention and have the opportunity to win tournaments. My goals are to, yeah, have fun, because I know I only have so many years left. I'm going to be 57 here next month, and we all know the clock is ticking. If nothing drastically happens, even then I only have a few years left in competitive golf. So I want to enjoy myself. Obviously it's more fun when you play well. I'd like to win a few more tournaments, maybe get to 100 in my career. I'm at 92 right now. Yeah, one of the goals this year was to keep the yellow jersey on my caddie all year. I got it winning the first tournament in Hawaii, and that's the Charles Schwab Cup Bib. I'd like to keep it to the very end. I don't think that has been done very often, and that would be a unique thing.

Q. It's like you're reading my mind. I was going to bring up the number 100. Only four players have gotten there so far. What would it mean for you to be the fifth guy to get to 100?
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm not playing for records. I just play to have fun and play every round as good as I can. But to get near that 100 wins or over it would be quite an achievement. As you say, not a lot of people have done that, and, yeah, it just proves that I have had a wonderful career over several decades. I have been very blessed to play this game at this level for so long.

Q. You have been open about your faith. Can you talk about that maybe as you talk about the mental game being important. Do those things come together?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, they certainly do. You know, I have talked to a couple of sports psychologists, and really, 99% of what they're telling you it's all in the Bible. You've just got to read it. You know, so you don't need a lot of sports psychologists. If you're a believer and you know the Bible, it's all in there. It just proves to me that, you know, it's the best book that was ever written. It's a best seller, always has been, and continues to or will be. There is a lot of wisdom and a lot of guidance for how to live life and live it to the fullest and to the best. I have just again been very blessed to have realized that in 1985 and give my life over to Jesus, and ever since my life has been better and different.

Q. There are 59 players in this field that will play in the Senior Open for the first time. What do you know that they are not going to know when they step on the first tee tomorrow?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, they should know the setup, because they have all had practice rounds, but, you know, they're going to be surprised with some of the pin positions, how tough they will be. And they are all going to be nervous. If they haven't been in the Senior Open before, certainly their heartbeat will be a little bit faster. They will be a little bit excited, and they are going to find out if they hit it in the wrong place they will get punished and get punished badly. That's what U.S. Open golf has always been about.
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