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July 30, 2017

Bernhard Langer

Royal Porthcawl, Wales, United Kingdom

TOM CARLISLE: We are joined by the Senior Open Champion, Bernhard Langer, winner here in 2014, winner once again on this course. You must be elated with that.

BERNHARD LANGER: I am. It's a fantastic feeling to have won here again.

You know, there might have been a little extra pressure, just knowing that I've won here by 13 a few years ago, and all my colleagues kept reminding me and a few other people. I hit my first tee shot straight into a gorse bush on the left and it was unplayable, so looking back now, it ended a lot better than it started.

I had a sore throat for the whole week. Wasn't 100 per cent. Makes it even more meaningful.

TOM CARLISLE: As you say, you started the week with laryngitis, we had some shocking weather at the start of the championship, as well. You must have felt as though everything was going against you, not just yourself, but 143 other players out there.

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, it didn't look very promising early on. But as I said, despite my first tee shot and my sickness, I actually had a very good first round and had the lead of the championship, and I think that was key. I led from the very beginning. I led on Thursday, I was co-leader Friday and then jump into the lead with a 65 yesterday and never surrendered.

It's pretty special to be leading a major from the very begin willing.

TOM CARLISLE: And on this trophy, you join an elite group of golfers who have won it three times in Tom Watson and Gary Player. How did you feel about that?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, we all know what great players those two are, especially Tom has maybe the best links course record of anybody. He's one of the best wind players that I've seen, maybe the best. And we all know what Gary Player has achieved in his career.

Very honoured to be mentioned together with those two.

TOM CARLISLE: You've surpassed them in some ways because you're sitting here as the ten-time senior Major Champion. Mentioning your name amongst the greatest of the game.

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, it's pretty neat to do something that nobody else has done before. Like winning ten senior majors, it's not easily done. There's a lot of competition out there. Very blessed and honoured to have achieved that. You know, maybe there's one or two more in the future, who knows.

But right now, I'm just going to enjoy the fruit of the labor, and to have won three majors in one season is pretty spectacular, and it actually could have been four if I didn't mess up two weeks ago. But when you put yourself in that situation, you're going to win some and you're just going to lose some. That's how it goes.

Q. Could you explain why, what you did so well this week? What do you think was the reason?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, that's a good question. Actually it felt, the first two days, I really didn't feel I had my best game. Even though I was leading on Thursday, I somehow didn't feel I was driving the ball as well as I did three years ago.

Three years ago, I drove the ball phenomenal. The first two days, I was just fighting the fade, and then the wind would just take it 40, 50 yards right. But I managed to get around the golf course with very few dropped shots, and actually first day, I made a lot of birdies, but too many -- a bunch of bogeys, too.

Second day was a bit of a struggle because the conditions were just horrendous. I mean, maybe the hardest conditions I've ever played golf in. That first hour or two hours on Friday morning, and just tried to survive and stay amongst the leaders, which I did.

And then yesterday was the key round. I played flawless yesterday. Hit everything great and jumped into the lead. Gave myself a four-shot lead which I protected today by just playing smart.

You know, you said, what did you do well. There's actually one thing I did very well: I didn't drive it in one fairway bunker, not one, and that's difficult to do. I think everybody I played with was at least in one, two or more. And every time you go in there, you lose a shot.

So I took the fairway bunkers to some extent out of play. Like the par 5 coming up the hill, 13. I saw a bunch of guys hitting driver and the driver brought the three bunkers into the play and the gorse bush on the right.

So I was hitting 3-irons and hybrids, which I played hybrid, hybrid 6-iron today, which is not an easy thing to come in with a 6-iron in a crosswind, but I'm trying to take six or seven out of the equation and par. I played the hole in even par, but the majority of the guys were over par on that hole.

Q. Looked like an iron from the second tee.
BERNHARD LANGER: Correct. That was a hybrid, as well. Today a 2-hybrid to stay short of all the bunkers left. Yeah, means I'm hitting more club into the green, but I'm not going to be punished hitting sideways out of a pot bunker.

Q. How do you remain so good?
BERNHARD LANGER: You have an hour or two? No, just kidding.

I don't know. We just keep working at our game, and you learn from your mistakes. I have a very good team around me with my coach, Willy Hoffman; my caddie Terry Holt; my family who supports me; my brother who is my manager; and I'm reasonably healthy where I don't have any restraints there. All of that combined, I'm a competitive guy. I'd like to do well, whatever I do. I work hard at it and expect a lot. Turned out to be pretty decent.

Q. You referenced not winning a couple of weeks back. Is that what may have motivated you; you don't like coming second.
BERNHARD LANGER: It certainly motivated me. I didn't like finishing second there when I was in the lead going into Saturday or Sunday or whatever and I had it at my finger tips and I just double-bogeyed 17 hitting it into the water. Then had a really bad lip-out on 18.

Any ways, yeah, nobody likes to finish second. The best way to overcome it is by winning as soon as possible. So I'm grateful for that.

Q. Even though you led after each round this week, do you feel like you overcame more than you usually do with the elements, with the health and a tough field?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yes, that's certainly the case. I think at times, it was survival out there. I don't know how much you guys went out there when the rain came sideways -- the forecast was 20-mile-an-hour, 25-mile-an-hour.

But when you're this close to the coast, there's nothing to protect that wind for 30, 50 miles out there, I don't know how far, it was a lot more than that.

The clubs I was hitting at times was ridiculous. For an 8-iron distance, I would hit 3-iron, and that's not even straight into the wind. It's just very difficult to comprehend.

The first couple of times when I played, what's the par 3 down the hill, 14, 15 -- 15, I mean, I hit my shot and as soon as it gotten yards off the tee box, it went like that. It's like, it hit a wall and then went 50 yards sideways.

So you just need to, now you're aiming 40 yards left of the green trying to hit the middle of the green and going, whoa, if the wind doesn't take this -- it's just very, very difficult.

And then I figured I'm better off hooking it into the wind or slicing it into the wind than trying to just use the wind. But you've got to be totally committed and hit the right shot. Otherwise, you end up way short or way long or way off.

Q. I've seen you play for a long, long time in lots of different conditions, and it has always struck me that the worst of weather, the better you are, and I put that down to the things that you've mentioned, but also something that you didn't mention, and that's your mental strength.
BERNHARD LANGER: I agree with you there, yes. A lot of people -- I remember playing somewhere, it was almost snowing; it was that cold, and rain, you know, that kind of stuff, hail, and half the field has already given up. They don't want to be out there. They just -- what am I doing here, that kind of attitude. I try not to go there. It doesn't mean I enjoy it. I'd much rather have 70 degrees and sunshine and no wind. But I'm going to embrace whatever comes and make the best of it. But I'm not going to just give up because the conditions are hard. And we had a few of those moments this week. It was tough.

So yes, the attitude is very, very important, and you know, you mentioned my attitude; I would like to mention my faith. My faith plays a big role in that, too. It just means a whole lot. It infiltrates everything I do in my life and gives me a lot of strength and a lot of peace that some people might not have.

Q. I think you said outside that you believe that you can still improve in your 40s, 50s, 60s. Having won four times this year, three majors, how would you compare your game now, to, say, 20, 25 years ago?
BERNHARD LANGER: It's difficult to compare because I don't play the same golf courses and we have different equipment. I mean, everything is different. The golf ball, the shaft, the driver, everything. So it's hard to compare, really.

But I know in my heart that the last ten years, I've played some of the best golf of my whole life, guaranteed. The performance I had here a few years ago was as good as anything I've probably ever done anywhere. I've had a few other tournaments similar.

So you know, as I said, I'm a strong believer that you can get better. I believe my technique at times was a lot better in the 50s than it was in the 20s or 30s. My understanding of the golf swing and what I can do, what I can't do, is a lot better. The shots I have now, I probably didn't have years ago, and just experience. All of that plays a big part.

TOM CARLISLE: As winner at the Senior Open, as you know, you receive exemption into The Open Championship and next year it's at Carnoustie, the course where you first won this trophy. So you must really be looking forward to that challenge?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yes, I am. We were actually talking about maybe moving -- I'm involved with WINSTONgolf, a senior event in Germany, and I couldn't play it this year because it was the week against the Senior Players Championship in America. So we were contemplating moving it against The Open Championship so I could play. But that wouldn't be a good move now, would it (laughter).

I'm looking forward to Carnoustie and looking forward to St. Andrews. That will be a couple of very special weeks for me next year.

TOM CARLISLE: And St. Andrews, you came so close to winning The Open Championship when Seve won it in '84. You must be looking forward to maybe settling a score on that course.

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it's just one of my most favourite places, St. Andrews. The golf course has really grown on me. I used to hit it when I first played it and then the third or fourth time I played it, I got to learn what the architect had in mind when he designed certain things. It's grown tremendously and it's a fantastic place to play golf, and all the history and all that.

So yeah, I holed no grudges or whatever. I just look forward to spending a week at St. Andrews.

TOM CARLISLE: And a final point, made an honorary member of this course on Wednesday; two-time Senior Open winner here. Can you put that into words.

BERNHARD LANGER: No, I can't. It's a great honour and thrill to be an honorary member, even though I'm probably not going to play much golf here in the future, because it's a long ways to go from Florida where I live. But just the thought is what matters, what counts, and I appreciate the kindness of the membership to give me that honorary membership here.

If I'm ever in the neck of the woods here, I will certainly come and play golf, because it's a great venue.

Q. Can I just check the story of you and Monty, Ryder Cup, yardage, from the front of the sprinkler head to the back of the sprinkler head. You know the one.
BERNHARD LANGER: I know the one.

Q. Which Ryder Cup was this?
BERNHARD LANGER: That was the one at Kiawah, '91. But that story is like a fish story, you know that, right. It's a good story. It sells, or it reads well, whatever you want to call it.

TOM CARLISLE: Once again, congratulations and we look forward to seeing you next year at St. Andrews.

BERNHARD LANGER: Thank you. Look forward to it, too.

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