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May 6, 2015

Martin Kaymer

Bernhard Langer


ALEX URBAN: We'd like to welcome Martin Kaymer, the 2014 champion. Just open up with some comments about being the defending champion here, what it meant to win THE PLAYERS Championship and your look forward to this year.

MARTIN KAYMER: Obviously it's a very, very big event for us. It's one of the events that you hope to win in your career. Obviously it's a career goal to win a Major, to win a World Golf Championship event and also win THE PLAYERS. So, fortunately, I could get the job done last year and in a fairly dramatic way. (Laughter.) It was a little bit of a roller coaster for me emotion-wise. So, it's a very tough field to beat, it's a very difficult golf course. It can be very, very difficult if you don't hit the fairways. If you hit the fairways, you can shoot a low score. It's probably one of the best tests that we have all year long, especially with that finish, 16, 17 and 18.

ALEX URBAN: Also like to welcome Bernhard Langer into the interview room. Bernhard is here by way of his victory at the 2014 Constellation Senior Players Championship. We have our two German Players Champions on the stage here. Bernhard, talk about getting into the field here by way of your victory and talk about your victory a little bit last year and how you're feeling coming into THE PLAYERS.

BERNHARD LANGER: Well it's very exciting for me to win the Senior Players Championship and one of my first thoughts was I get to play THE PLAYERS again and I obviously knew that Martin had won here, so it was pretty cool that we don't have that many German professionals that are very successful, and that the two of them would win THE PLAYERS Championship at the same time is pretty unique, so I'm thrilled to be here. We played a few holes yesterday together, and it looks like Martin's game is in very good shape and I'm trying to get mine to a similar level. It's fun to be back though after a few years. The course is in phenomenal shape, and as Martin said, it really demands every aspect of the game. It's very difficult to play this course out of the rough, or if you miss a lot of greens, tough chipping out of that grass. So you need to hit fairways, need to hit greens and make a few putts. Sounds very simple, but it's hard to do especially when the wind blows 15 or 20 miles an hour.

ALEX URBAN: Open it up for questions.

Q. Bernhard, I'm curious, winning the U.S. Senior Open gets you in the U.S. Open and the Senior PGA gets you into the PGA. Would that make you as exciting as coming back to THE PLAYERS Championship?
BERNHARD LANGER: It certainly does, yes. Maybe even more exciting, getting into THE PLAYERS Championship, because I think this is a golf course that I can still compete at. We have seen it, you've had all sorts of winners here. You don't have to hit it 330 off the tee to have a chance. Fred Funk won here a few years ago and we all know he's not the longest, but he's certainly one of the straightest and most precise. And I've always enjoyed playing this golf course. It's a bit of a chess game. You have a chance to place the ball in certain areas and attack or not attack and just pick and choose where you take your chances. I've always enjoyed that type of golf.

Q. Martin, for a solid month last year arguably nobody in the world was playing better golf than you. How would you sum up your play since post-U.S. Open?
MARTIN KAYMER: Before the U.S. Open or after?

Q. Post, since the U.S. Open.
MARTIN KAYMER: It was okay. Yeah, it was very difficult to follow such a good, what you said, such a good stretch of tournaments. Also, I really wanted to enjoy that win that I had at the U.S. Open as well. I did the mistake in 2010 that I didn't really take the time for myself to enjoy to win a Major. It's quite big. To win a Major is quite nice, and it means a lot. After the U.S. Open, I went back to Germany and played there the tournament, the BMW Open. Obviously the people were very happy for me and it was a nice way to finish a great run of tournaments. To play in your own country, that's always a different feeling with it. And then I played a few other good tournaments in Germany and Europe as well, followed up by the Ryder Cup. Pretty much after the Ryder Cup, I was done. My season was over. I was playing a lot of golf on both tours, making it to the FedExCup all the way through. It was a lot of golf that I played, and I just needed a little bit more time for myself, and that is what I did, especially in the wintertime. Then started off well in the Middle East and then I was practicing a lot. My whole focus was on the Masters, and I did prepare well for the Masters, if the Masters would have been two months later. (Laughter.) I just did a little bit too much in February and March, so I was quite tired going into the Masters. But the success will come. Obviously the work that I put in in January, February and March, it will pay off at one stage. So, yeah, that was pretty much what I've done after the U.S. Open.

Q. During the times this season where you have struggled, has there been a pattern to what's gone wrong? Missing fairways, missing greens, putts? Has there been a pattern to those situations?
MARTIN KAYMER: No, it's not really one part of the game that I struggled more or less with. Usually I'm a very consistent player, it just depends on the short game a lot of times, how many putts you make, if you make those important putts during the round to keep the good round going or not. And you need to be -- I need a lot of time for myself, as well, to go to tournaments and look really forward to play. Otherwise I get too frustrated on the golf course when I play too much golf or when I play too many tournaments in a row, and that happened last year. Even though I played fine, tournaments in Europe, and even though I made -- I was one or 2-under par after nine holes and then I made a couple bad shots and I got frustrated quickly, just because I was on the golf course too much. Yeah, that was the main thing why I think I haven't played my best golf. It's just one of those things that it's just part of the whole process. So there's not really a weak part of my game that is a pattern.

Q. Bernhard, forgive me if I say you've been around a long time; I've been around a long time, as well. Looking at Jordan Spieth, two questions: Do you think he is "the one"? And do you think that there might be a danger of too much adoration perhaps being placed on his shoulders so young?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, there's always a danger of that. We have seen it happen with many, many players that have been called the next Jack Nicklaus or the next Arnold Palmer or now the next Tiger Woods, whatever. There's always a danger of that. It's a tremendous burden, in a sense. It's a great honor to be thrown in the mix of some of these names, but at the same time every time he goes out there, he knows what's expected from him, from you, from the public, and that's not easy. I totally agree with what Martin just said, because I found the very same thing over the years. If I play more than two or three tournaments in a row, I lose my patience. I get frustrated with myself or angry and you just don't perform the way you would have if you would regularly take a week or two weeks off in between. So, it's a process, it's a learning process, and we all have different ways. Some guys enjoy playing six weeks in a row. Very few do. Most guys just like to play one or two and then take a break. But I'm excited that we have players like Martin, like Rory McIlroy, like Jordan Spieth, who can develop some rivalries and can challenge for the No. 1 spot in the world and for the Majors and the great championships. That's good for the game of golf. We have seen it over the many years and it will continue to be so. It's great to have so many young players that are at the very top of their game.

Q. Does Jordan look like "the one" to you?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, what's "the one"? He's going to -- if he stays healthy and maintains the focus, I think he will be one of the top players for a number of years to come. Is he the one? Not certain of that. We have a lot of talent, like I just said, I only mentioned a few, there's five or ten others who -- Jason Day, there's a whole bunch of others that could compete at that very much the same level. And if Rory stays healthy in the way he swings, it's going to be hard to beat him, if his putter stays hot. But he's certainly in the mix of those guys that can be challenging for the No. 1 spot for many years in a row.

Q. You mentioned last year you felt like you were on the golf course a little too much and you've been a member of both tours now for a couple of years. It sounds like you're still kind of trying to come to grips with how much to play here, how much to play there. You got houses in both places. I'm just wondering whether, what happened to you in the second half of last year that caused you to reassess your schedule this year and you kind of have to start early with your airline contract in the UAE and it just makes for a long year.
MARTIN KAYMER: Yes, it is. It's a very long year.

Q. There's a question in there, I think, somewhere.
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, so the question was, okay, well, yeah, it takes what Bernhard says, it takes experience. It takes your own experience. Obviously, I talked about what kind of tournaments, how many he played, all those things, but there's no right or wrong. Maybe Bernhard likes to play four or five in a row. Obviously he made that experience. And then he said, okay, maybe only two or three. You do the experience yourself in order how your own body feels and how your mindset is. Playing on both tours is difficult. For now, I don't have a family, it's okay to do, so I only take care of myself, which is fine for now. But I think once you have a family one day, it will be even more difficult, because I'm not that kind of person that wants to be away all the time and only have a Skype relationship and all those things, you know. So at one stage, obviously, you need to make a decision whether you play a little bit more the beginning of the season in America and then you go over to Europe or the other way around, whatever fits your schedule and in the tournaments that you like to play. But last year was a very interesting year. I could see really myself how long can I play golf on a great level until my body is getting tired and my mindset is not there anymore a hundred percent, and then it's time to leave, because you can't put the hundred percent in there, it's frustrating. If you want to, but you can't, that's frustrating. So then you have to get away and reset and then you go out again. And that is what I was trying to do.

Q. Did you recast at all this year with that in mind? Will there be a couple less stops this year potentially or about the same?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I didn't play that many tournaments the beginning of the season. I was practicing a lot. And again, I'm one of those players, if I play well, I keep playing, because you want to keep the momentum going. If I don't play well, I practice more. So there's no rest. It's a tough one. But I felt a little bit guilty for not practicing or for not playing, so that's my own problem. I need to get away from feeling guilty about things that are okay to do. It's okay to take the afternoon off. It's okay today practicing a little bit more after the press and then watch Bayern against Barcelona. It's okay. (Laughter.) So in the past I felt like, okay, you play an important tournament, maybe you should do another hour of practice here and there. So, it's, again, it's a learning process and I learned a lot the last two or three months from that, that it's okay to take an afternoon off once in a while.

Q. You have not been to this course for awhile, as you said, and Martin won last year. Were you asking him for advice on how he won and how he played the course or were you giving him advice on how he should play the course?
MARTIN KAYMER: The only thing is Bernhard asked me what my winning score was. So it was just the score that was important, I think. (Laughter.)

BERNHARD LANGER: I know how he won, I watched it on TV. I saw pretty much every shot he hit, so I'm aware of that. I know his game. He's capable of everything you can do with a golf ball. He's got a great touch. He can do it all. So I was not surprised and I was probably more thrilled than anybody else, certainly in this room or anywhere else, I think, for him to win. But, no, we didn't talk too much about that. He certainly doesn't need any advice from me around this golf course. He's won it, I haven't. And I should know how to play this course by being here over 20 times competing. I looked at some of my old yardage books and all that kind of stuff, so there's a bunch of notes in there, I just need to be able to do what I want to do.

Q. Knowing the course, Bernhard, would it be advantageous because it's softer this week for you? Would it be better for you soft or hard and dry?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's a great question. It works both ways. It's the same at Augusta. When it's soft, it plays longer, which is harder for me, but it holds my second shots better. So when it's firm, the ball runs more off the tees, I'm going to hit a couple clubs less into the green, but the greens are firm now, so the ball doesn't stop as quick. So it's about the same.

Q. On the subject of advice, Martin, what do you gain most in your relationship with Bernhard, and Bernhard, what do you gain most in your relationship with Martin?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, just the way he is off the golf course. You can be a good golf player. There are many good players out here. But the way Bernhard cares, he really listens when you have questions. He takes the time, sits down with you, thinks about it, and tries to figure out a solution. Obviously, one of the most valuable things that you can give to a person is your time. So at the Ryder Cup in 2012, we spent a little bit of time together before the last round. He helped me a lot, because it's a quiet -- it's not so shallow the conversations that we have, the things that Bernhard says, I believe, because he's talking about experience. So experience that he has made, and there's no doubt about experience. So that is his feeling, that is his what he went through and that is probably one of the best advisors that you can have. But the time, I know how difficult it is to give time to people in our job, but there was always time for me. So it was quite nice.

BERNHARD LANGER: What I admire about Martin is he's a very young man who always asks great questions. He's got an old head on young shoulders, and I think there's a reason for that, because he seeks the advice of other people and he asks great questions. There's a lot of young men that are not interested, they just want to say, oh I hit my 7-iron 20 yards further than he did or something like that. But he goes out of his way to talk to the people that he thinks he can maybe learn something from. The very first day I met him, he struck me that way. He comes from a great family background, I think, very solid. He was very mature for his age. Whatever he does, he does it with a purpose. It's not like, oh, let's try this or let's try that for no reason or wasting time. There's always a purpose behind everything. The other thing I admire about Martin is he's very honest and straightforward. What you see is who he is and what you get. Not everybody is that way. So he continues to learn and grow, just like the thing we talked about, scheduling, his schedule, how much to play, how much to practice and how much fun can I have, how much time can I take off. All those things are very important, because you got to be balanced. I remember when I was younger I was out of balance. Golf was everything for me and I flew everywhere and all over the world and golf was the most important thing. Well then came, I got married and I had kids and I had other interests and I had to learn to prioritize and balance all that. But it's all part of life and it's a wonderful thing to do. But it takes a couple of years to figure out, okay, I can't do this anymore. I remember playing the European Tour, the American Tour, and then on top of that, I played in Japan and Asia and Australia and in South Africa. Well, looking at that now, were you crazy? What were you trying to achieve? (Laughter.) I woke up, I didn't know what time zone I was in. I didn't even know what country I'm in at times. And it's too much at times. I remember vividly there was five or six European players talking to Deane Beman, trying to get us to go from 15 tournaments minimum to 12 so we could keep our memberships in both tours, and it didn't go through, so we all -- it was 1989, I remember the day, and I was here, they didn't allow us to do that, they didn't make an exception for us, and we all resigned our membership. That wasn't one European player was a member of the PGA TOUR in 1990. Not one. You can look that up. Because we all felt it was too much to go back and forth and back and forth, four, five six times a year with the time zones. You couldn't handle it. Nowadays it's a little bit easier; you have the world golf events, you have the Majors, they count on both tours. They still are going to have to do a couple of trips back and forth, but at least they don't have to go through what we had to go through, to the extent. Sorry, that was a little bit of add-on.

Q. Martin, when was the last time you woke up and didn't know what country you were in?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, last week in San Francisco I was -- because, yeah, I was jet lagged a little bit, and it's funny how much time it takes. You lay in bed, you wake up, you don't know, is it Monday, is it the final day of a tournament, or am I in Dusseldorf going to breakfast now. It sounds funny, but it's scary. It's a little scary sometimes, because you think you are aware of what you're doing, you're aware of what you want to do and what country you are in. And I think you can take as much rest as you want. But for me it's so deep already that you wake up, one of the first thoughts is the golf, wherever you are. Do I practice, do I play, do I play a tournament. So last week, then I saw my brother laying next to me in San Francisco in the bed and I thought, okay, I'm in San Francisco. (Laughter.) I can remember, because he was planning to come with me.

Q. On your schedule, with the U.S. Open win or PGA Championship win comes a lot of opportunities. So, how do you balance these opportunities that are coming your way with wanting to practice, wanting to get rest, wanting to take time off?
MARTIN KAYMER: You just have to listen to yourself. You know what is right for you. You know what you would like to do, and I think you have to do things that you gain from and not too many things that takes the energy away from you. Obviously there are some things that you have to do that comes with winning those tournaments. But it's a matter of how do you approach those commitments. Knowing that you won THE PLAYERS, knowing that you won the U.S. Open is a very positive thing. It's a great thing. It's a pleasure to do certain things, to meet certain people, and it's all about your attitude, how you see it. When people tell you, look, when you come to the U.S. Open you have to do this, this, this and that, then maybe one or two sponsors, they want you to do certain things, to meet people, to do interviews here and there. And it's okay to do. It would be ^ worse ^ worst if no one wouldn't care about me. So it's just a matter of how do you approach those commitments. You have a choice, if you see it positive or negative. Sometimes it's difficult to see it positive. But it's just part of it. Most of the times that we play golf and other commitments that we do, we can be very lucky. It's still a good thing to do. I had dinner yesterday with a couple guys from Rolex, and the guy next to me, he said to me how sad it is sometimes to see the players complaining so much and if we are always aware of what we are actually doing. And I said, well I hope we are. Some of them are. Some aren't. I think, again, that is very, very important to keep the passion and the love for the sport, that your conscience is here, that you are aware of what you're doing, now nice it is. This morning I enjoyed it, to get up at 6 o'clock and I was on the 10th tee at 7 o'clock in the morning, you smell the grass, there's still some dust on the fairways, it's beautiful. And I think sometimes when we do it every single week, you don't see it anymore, you just do it. And that's sad. So, I think you just have to balance those things. When you do things, at what time and how well they're organized, and then it's okay to do.

Q. Martin, would you please just retell the story of the first time you met Bernhard and how much he was an influence in your interest in the game.
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, first time I was nervous. That's normal, I think. It's very normal when you meet someone that you -- who was very inspiring for you, that you look up to, who achieved a lot of things that you can only dream of. There's that barrier. You have like almost too much respect, because you don't -- you're not yourself, and that sometimes it can be in your way. It could be distracting. It's sad that you can't show who you are properly, because you have, you don't know how, you don't want to do anything wrong. And it was very, very nice when we played in Augusta. For me it was one of the most memorable rounds that I ever played with Bernhard. In 2008 was my first Masters, and Bernhard called me, and I said to my brother, oh, Bernhard Langer is calling me. So I picked up, and he said, should we play tomorrow, and I said yeah, let's do it, fair enough. So Monday morning we're standing on the 10th tee, and I was already nervous playing with Bernhard, my first round in Augusta playing with him, and then Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player showed up. (Laughter.) So then standing there playing my very first nine holes in Augusta with legends, and me being 24 or 23 years old, I was more nervous playing that than Thursday morning. So, it's just very inspiring to be around those people. And what I said earlier, it's not so much how they play golf, it's just very small part of who we are. But just the way you do press conference, the way you talk, the way you care about people, the way his family is, it's all very solid and straightforward and well-rounded, and it's just a good foundation. And that is something I think a lot of people can learn from.

Q. How old were you the first time you met him?
MARTIN KAYMER: I think the very first time I was an amateur, in 2003, I played the BMW International Open in Munich and said quickly hello on the range, and then in 2008 we actually played together in Munich.

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, we played a practice round together.

MARTIN KAYMER: And we played the tournament too.


MARTIN KAYMER: So first time was probably 2003, 12 years ago.

Q. And how much did watching him on TV influence your interest in golf and becoming a professional like him?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, for me it was unfortunate, obviously Bernhard played a lot in America. Obviously I was young, I had to go to school and I couldn't watch all the tournaments, with the time change, that he played. And then once in awhile when he played in Europe or in Germany, I watched. Obviously not only because of Bernhard, because of other players as well. But obviously when someone likes this comes to Germany, you walk a few holes with him and it's special. So, yeah, I was really sad that he stayed in America for so long, because I couldn't watch as much on TV as I wanted.

BERNHARD LANGER: It is my wife's fault. (Laughter.)

MARTIN KAYMER: You have to do priorities, yeah.

Q. The winning score of 12-, 13-under par, is that a good combination of or are birdies to be had and people can make a run but also you have to be careful and mindful of how you play?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well it's a golf course where you can shoot very low scores. If you hit the fairways, you can go very low. If you make a few putts here and there, it's possible. Last year when I shot 9-under par the first round, I didn't do anything special. Yes, I mean you made a few putts here and there more, but I was playing well, I hit fairways, and I used my chances. So, I didn't do any extraordinary. If you miss the fairways, it's tough. You can easily shoot 2- or 3-over par without doing much wrong. I think that is -- that's the beauty about that golf course. Anything can happen until Sunday afternoon, and therefore it's a good score to have, you know, if you -- if the winning score is somewhere around 10-under par, I think it's always a good score to have to win a tournament.

ALEX URBAN: All right, thank you Bernhard and Martin. Good luck this week.
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