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July 20, 2016

Bernhard Langer

Carnoustie, Scotland

GORDON SIMPSON: A bit of a damp start to the preparation this week, but very happy memories to be back here where you won your first senior major. What are your recollections of that.

BERNHARD LANGER: It was, as you say, my first Senior British Open and major, and it was a wonderful way to do it, dueling Corey Pavin coming down the stretch. Just on this kind of venue, it means a lot, because it is a very tough golf course, very, very tough. Very few birdie chances and every hole is just threatening to grab you. You've got to keep it out of the pot bunkers.

This year, we have more rough than we did then in 2010. I think you've had a lot of rain here the last few months. That rough is not just tall; it's very healthy on the bottom. We were blessed; all the guests from around the world were blessed to be here yesterday.

Q. The course will be very different to Porthcawl, as well. Porthcawl two years ago was fast and running, wasn't it?
BERNHARD LANGER: It sure was. If it's a little softer, usually makes it a little bit easier, so it will probably bring more players into the picture. Because when it's hard and bouncy, it will separate the field faster. The guys that play really good will move ahead and the other guys will make bogeys and double-bogeys. When it's wet and soft, you could have a whole bunch of guys coming down Sunday with a chance to win, so we'll see.

Q. Where did that performance two years ago rank in your career?
BERNHARD LANGER: That was incredible. It was astonishing. It's never easy to separate yourself from the field. You know, we saw what happened last week, the two guys, it's easier for two guys because they are playing together and it's almost becoming match play. So they play each other and they feed off each other and they just play great golf, and the rest of the field is just struggling with it.

But to separate yourself, one person, it's sometimes harder. Yeah, things just went for me. I played great golf. I got some good breaks. Made some good putts. Just as the week progressed, I got further and further away from second and third.

Q. How has it been this year so far?
BERNHARD LANGER: Very good. I've won two majors and one tournament on top of that, so three victories in ten starts or 11. It's been exceptionally good. So very, very pleased. Have a huge lead in the Schwab Cup and the Money List at this point. Thrilled about my play.

Q. You're kind of breaking all the rules at the moment?

Q. You're supposed to have a window in the Senior Tour.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, trying to expand the window a bit.

Q. You're doing a good job of that. What's your explanation of that? What are you doing right?
BERNHARD LANGER: I've talked to you about that in the past. I think we can still get better. I truly believe that. Gary Player talks about certain things and is convinced and I'm convinced that you can become a better golfer as you mature, because I've had more years to work on my technique; I can still become a better-ball striker. I may lose some distance. I may lose some strength and flexibility, but I might have a better understanding of my own swing and what works and what doesn't. I might have a better understanding of just the technique of the swing, and then also the short game and the putting, which is key.

So I've certainly played tremendous golf I think the last ten, 12 years. I've had some great years before that, too. But it's been outstanding and as I said, as long as the body doesn't limit you in certain ways where your back's hurting or your shoulder or your wrist or your elbows or whatever else can go wrong, you can still try and improve on your game and make up for the lack or loss of distance that you might have.

Q. That's also true of everybody else, and you're doing it better than everybody else, so you must be doing something.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, maybe other guys weren't able to improve their swings, or even mentally. A lot of the game is mental, too; that you're still hungry or eager to do well, which I think most of them are, or they wouldn't fly halfway around the world some of them to Carnoustie just to see Carnoustie. They want to play well. So they are still focused and hungry, if you want to call it that way.

Q. Is that the thing that you've retained the most?
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm not sure the most, but I think I've learned to pace myself. In the young days, you just played and played and played whatever tournament there was, you just entered and played. And one time I played 11 in a row. If I do that now, you can find me in the loony place (laughter).

Q. How many would you play now in a row?
BERNHARD LANGER: Two or three is pretty much the most. I've learned what's good for me. You've got to listen to yourself and your body, and I don't like going more than two, really. Every once in awhile I go three if I absolutely have to, and I take breaks, and I do things to recuperate and give myself rest.

I've put the clubs away for a week or four or five days, even in the middle of the season, just do other stuff. And I think that's actually good for me, because I do come back, and this is, oh, let's get back into it and work on it again. Instead of, I've got to play another this or another that, just dragging along.

Q. Do you still start the season with a goal of each season?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, we all have goals I think. Yeah, you've got to have goals. The main goal is just as I said, to improve myself. If I can slightly improve myself, and I sometimes say half a shot a day or a quarter a shot a day, if I can do that, it would be huge when you think about four days, half a shot, two days for a week, I'd be winning six, eight times a year, that kind of thing, and constantly being up on top. I'm still trying to find ways to get better.

This year, I think my worst finish has been 13th in all the starts. I've been up there and I've had chances and I'm fortunate to win, as I said, two majors and another event, and I was close in a couple others. But it's not easy. There's a lot of great players out there. People have no idea how many good players there is. We only have 80 normally, 81 on the Champions Tour. It's easier to get into this tournament than it is to get into a regular Champions Tour event, by far.

Q. Have the strengths of your game changed over the years or is it pretty much the same?
BERNHARD LANGER: A little bit I think, yeah. I think in the old days, my iron game was probably my strength, distance control, iron game. I think my driving has become a lot better. Greens in regulation has become very good. The last few years when you look at the stats, I hit more fairways, I hit a lot of greens. I've been in greens in regulation, either top two or top two or three --

Q. A few years ago you told me that was the reason you didn't win a U.S. Open?
BERNHARD LANGER: I didn't drive it straight enough. If you miss eight or ten fairways a day, out of that hay, it just didn't happen. And the putter at times, too. Putting is a thing -- I was never a Ben Crenshaw who could make everything, but you look back, I've won a lot more tournaments than Ben Crenshaw. Ben Crenshaw never won a Champions Tour event playing out there 12 years or something, which is to me mind-boggling, because if you can put like Ben, why wouldn't you win? There's got to be something seriously wrong with the rest of the game, that kind of thing.

Q. In Germany a couple weeks ago, Andrew Oldcorn won for the first time in five years. How impressive a performance was that, because he doesn't play much competitively now, not many opportunities, did you play with him in the last round?
BERNHARD LANGER: I did. I was paired with him in the second-last group. He played very solid, very, very solid. He dueled with me and others in front of my home crowd on my home soil, which had to be tough for him, because people were pulling for me. He was very focused. Hit a lot of great shots.

But most importantly, he made a lot of putts. None of us made any putts for some reason. I played with Broadhurst the first two days, who was in the playoff, and he lipped-out so many times. But Andrew made a lot of putts on that last day, anyway. That's what it comes down to.

Q. And he won again at 56, he said he was ecstatic about that.
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm sure. It's one of the biggest events to have prize money-wise I think, and that was a big win for him.

Q. What were your impressions of last week? Did you see much of Troon?
BERNHARD LANGER: I saw a little bit, not a whole lot, but it was fantastic the way the two guys played, as I alluded to a few minutes ago. To be 20-under and 17-under in these conditions, I mean, they weren't easy conditions, right. I wasn't there but they were talking about wind and rain and all sorts of stuff. And to be 14 shots ahead of third, how often does that happen. Very, very seldom.

Again, it was like those two guys were playing head-to-head the last 36 holes, and they drove each other to new heights in a sense. When you see good shots and see putts being made, it sometimes helps you to do the same thing.

Q. In the end, Stenson didn't know that he shot 63 and Phil Mickelson didn't know that Stenson had made ten birdies because they were just trying to beat the other guy?
BERNHARD LANGER: Exactly. Because it was more of a match-play, or just playing the golf course.

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