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April 9, 2016

Bernhard Langer

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Pleased to welcome Bernhard Langer to the media room. He carded a 2‑under par 70 today for a three‑day total, 1‑under 215. Bernhard recorded six birdies today, including three consecutive birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 15. As you all know, he is a two‑time Masters Champion, 1985, 1993, and Bernhard had become the third international player to win back in 1985. This is his 33rd Masters appearance.
Congratulations on a great round. Could you please speak to some of the highlights through the day?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I've been playing very good golf the last three days. Hit the ball very well yesterday. Just didn't make any putts, and today, the shot‑making kind of continued. Made a couple of putts and just played smart, aggressive‑smart, if you can be aggressive hitting hybrids into these greens, I don't know.
But it was fun being out there with Jason Day. He's a wonderful young man and enjoyed his company. Obviously phenomenal golfer, hits the ball a ton. I've seldom seen somebody putt as well as he has today, so that was fun watching.
For myself, I just try to stay away from missing the ball in the wrong places where you don't have a shot, like I did on 18. That was really the only ‑‑ well, I made two mistakes. No.9, I didn't hit enough club and misjudged the wind. Then 18, I hit a bad shot. But was very unfortunate on 12. Hit a beautiful shot there, hit the top of the bunker and ricocheted back on a downhill lie and I bogeyed that one. Otherwise, I played a lot of great shots, put myself in good positions, made a couple of putts. Played the par 5s very well, 4‑under for the par 5s.
For a 58‑year‑old, it's fun to be in this position and play with the best in the world.

Q. When you're 50, 60 yards behind the guy you're playing with off the tee, are you playing a different game out there?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, we are (smiles). But the scorecard doesn't show it always (laughter). There's different ways of getting there, and obviously it's a lot easier for these young guys, hitting a lot less club into some of the greens. And they can stop the ball, while mine sometimes release.
But when I play really, really good, when I bring my AGame, I can still compete, and even on a very long golf course like this.

Q. Can you win tomorrow?
BERNHARD LANGER: I believe I can. Obviously it depends how the others do. If I play my best, I can shoot 4‑ or 5‑under tomorrow, I think, if the conditions are a little bit better. But so can Jordan Spieth or any of the others on the leaderboard, so it all depends how the rest of the other 15 guys are in contention or 20 guys, how they do. So I can only play my game and see how that holds up.

Q. The casual sports fan watching tomorrow, they are going to be saying, how can a gentleman compete with someone so much younger in this sport? How does that happen?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, in the game of golf, it's a little different. We're not playing tennis or soccer or football where it all comes down to speed and strength. Golf is a lot more about knowing yourself and technique. Just thinking your way around the golf course and then execution.
Obviously we all know; I'm probably 40, 50 yards behind some of these big hitters, maybe sometimes only 30, but that's a lot to give up. But there's still other ways of doing it. If you hit it exactly where you want to hit it, you can still shoot under par, and that's what I've been trying to do.

Q. Can you talk about No.2 today, the differences in distance with you all, and also 14, when you both made those birdies.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, 2, I hit as good a tee shot as I could. I needed every bit of my 3‑wood to get pin‑high in the bunker, and I think Jason probably hit 7‑iron. I heard him say, like, whatever, 190 or 188, so that's probably a little bit downwind, probably a 7‑iron for him or maybe a 6‑iron. So that's the difference in distance at times.
But he had the benefit of where my tee ball landed, it's flat on top and he carried it to the crest and it just keeps running. Doesn't mean he's always 70 yards past me. It's not quite the case. But he's plenty past me. Yeah, it's a huge advantage, and I just try and have to make up for it, somehow.
14 was a great moment today, because he hit‑‑ he had only two really bad tee shots and that was a snap hook way left, left of the trees, and then he hit some kind of low, chasing shot. I was on the middle of the fairway about 80 yards from where he was, so I couldn't really tell. But I saw his ball scuttle up there and ended up on the front right of the green. I hit my 8‑iron and just rolled through the green.
So he made this, I would guess, 70‑foot putt, you know, up and around and straight in, a great cheer from the crowd. Then I chipped in right on top of him, so we gave each other a high‑five and a fist pump and all that kind of stuff. It's just fun being out there and the crowd loved it.

Q. Much has been made of the anchoring ban at the beginning of the year. What's been the reaction amongst your peers on the Champions Tour about how you've still managed to find success?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, most of us really don't understand why they banned it, but that's a different story. Because if it was that much of an advantage, everybody would have used the anchoring style of putting, and only about 10 or 15 percent of all golfers did. So there's still a huge question mark for many people.
But yeah, on our Tour, I don't know, I don't talk to everybody about my putting, but I've tried all sorts of putters, different lengths, different grips. I probably have 20 new putters, 25, 30 new putters at home the last three months with different grips. I tried this way, I tried that way, regular, cross‑handed, and some of them work pretty decent.
But at this time, at this moment in time, I'm still the most comfortable by just not anchoring because I've done this for 18, 19 years now. Put so many hours into it, it's difficult to change something that quick.

Q. Since you don't compete on 7,600‑yard golf courses, how early on do you start preparing for this golf course, and what are the clubs you emphasize to make you competitive on courses this length?
BERNHARD LANGER: There's nothing special, really. I came here Sunday night from Gulfport, Mississippi where we played last week and played a few holes Monday, played a few holes Tuesday.
The only difference here is sometimes I throw my 3‑iron out and put a 3‑hybrid in because the ball goes a little higher, but I even use that on some other golf courses. That's really all there is to it. I just try to fine tune my swing where I can hopefully hit it straight off the tee and land the irons where I want them to land.
Then I spend a lot of time on the short game, just chipping, getting used to this grass that usually stands into you. They mow it towards the tee box and if you miss the green, you're always into the grain. Often you catch it clean, but you still get a blade or two between the clubface and the ball, which makes it just harder to control the spin.
So that's where I spend a lot of time, just controlling my speed on the putts and chipping and that kind of stuff.

Q. It would be a great personal achievement to win a third Masters, but what do you think it would mean for somebody 58 years old? We almost had Tom Watson do it at 59, but as they said, it still would be a decade more‑‑ beat the record by a decade for the oldest Major Champion. What do you think that would mean?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it would be one for the old guys (laughter). Tom almost had it once, but I know almost doesn't count. He was extremely unfortunate not to win that tournament, but it's just how it ended up.
I said earlier on, sooner or later, it's going to happen. One of the over‑50s is going to win a major. We have guys right now, Davis Love, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, these guys are still long enough to compete on any golf course.
It's going to happen sooner or later. The guys are staying fit. They are more athletes. They are taking care of themselves. We see it amongst the young guys, but as they get older they are going to be in better shape. And it's just a matter of time.

Q. Last time you were in this room was, when?
BERNHARD LANGER: It might have been, I don't know, was I in here two or three years ago when I finished eighth.

Q. What advantage do you have tomorrow?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, just a lot of knowledge. I was told today was my 113th competitive round on this golf course, plus probably, I don't know, 80 or 90 practice rounds, so I must be getting close to 200 rounds out here (laughing). So I know the place well.
But is that a real advantage? Well, only to a few, because the other guys have played plenty of times, as well. They know the place. The caddies spend a lot of time out there. That's really the only advantage.
And you know, I'm just trying to have fun, enjoy my last few years as a professional golfer and do the best I can.

Q. You joked about it being so long since you've been here, but it really wasn't that long. What can you take away from that experience and how do you think it can help you tomorrow?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, last time, what happened is I was playing really, really well, and I think two shots behind the leader with about ten holes to go or 12, and it started raining. And I just could not adjust to the speed of the greens. The greens went from‑‑ we don't use Stimpmeters here, but let's just say they were 14. They went to about 12 within ten minutes or something just because they got wet. And I knew it, I just couldn't adjust. So my speed was off and I just didn't finish very well and then I had a couple of bad breaks.
So hopefully I'll get some better breaks tomorrow. We're not going to get any rain, so that's good. And you know, we'll see how the outcome goes tomorrow.

Q. Can you compare the speed of the greens in the '70s and '80s, I know they've changed the grass over time, but I know people this year say they seem to have speed like they had in the old days.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I never played when they were Bermuda. My first time here was 1982 and there was already bentgrass, I believe. So they were always fast.
Whenever it doesn't rain here, they are generally pretty fast and pretty firm. You know, you can't stop it from raining. So we've had all sorts of conditions over the last 33 years, but usually they are in phenomenal shape. I enjoy fast greens. I love fast greens. I don't like hitting the putt when they are slow. You almost have to turn your hips and shoulders to get there. I enjoy stroking the ball and you can certainly do that around here.

Q. You got a standing ovation when you walked up 18. Any emotions at that point?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, definitely. I've had a couple standing emotions‑‑ not emotions. Anyway, a lot of emotion, too, because you get goosebumps. It's just such a wonderful atmosphere out there, and when the people acknowledge what you've just done, it's pretty neat. The Patrons here are very, very knowledgeable about the game of golf. Many of them come year after year. They know the history of the tournament and of the game.
Yeah, it gives me goosebumps at times.
THE MODERATOR: Very well played, Bernhard. Good luck tomorrow.

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