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May 22, 2019

Bernhard Langer

Rochester, New York

JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon from the 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club. I am pleased to be joined by our 2017 KitchenAid Senior PGA champion, Mr. Bernhard Langer. Welcome back to Rochester, New York.

BERNHARD LANGER: Thank you. Nice to be here.

JOHN DEVER: Welcome back to this championship. We missed you last year. You were attending, gladly, your son's high school graduation. So in essence you're having your first shot at defending your 2017 championship.

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, that's an unusual thing, but that's how it is, and I was glad I was there for my son. It was wonderful. But I did miss playing here, too.

JOHN DEVER: You're 61 now. You've already won again this year. You've got top 15s in all seven of your outings this year. What's the state of your game? It seems like it's as strong as ever, but I'd like to hear it from you.

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, thanks. I got off to a great start. The first three tournaments were really good. I had a third, a second and a first, and then got injured, had to pull out of a couple tournaments and took five weeks off. But I'm healthy again and been playing the last couple weeks, so I'm feeling good.

Everything is great. Body feels good. The game is pretty decent, and it needs to be because this is a tough test here.

JOHN DEVER: Yes, it is. It's a test that you're somewhat familiar with. You have a long history here at Oak Hill, a Ryder Cup. But I want to ask you specifically about the 2008, this championship in 2008, a near miss, I believe that was your first summer on this Tour. What are your memories of battling Jay Haas there down to the last hole or two?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, it was a very difficult tournament altogether. The weather was cold, windy. Conditions were very difficult. Just a lot of rough, and this course showed it, too, with +7 winning the tournament. Yeah, Jay and I battled it out over the weekend, and he had got out on top at the end. Made a couple of bogeys coming home, and he made a great par on 18 if I remember correctly, and that gave him the lead and the victory.

Q. Going back to 2008, when you look at the scores, +7, +8, if you recall the conditions and how they contributed to making Oak Hill difficult, what made those scores respectable in your mind given how the conditions were?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, first of all, the golf course is very difficult even if you have good weather. I mean, I played several holes today, and it's difficult with beautiful weather. It's just the way it is. The course is tough. The greens are small, very slopey, very well protected with bunkers. There's water hazards. There's lots of rough, and fairly long, as well. So there really isn't -- there isn't one hole out here, if I don't birdie it or what I would say I need to birdie this hole, otherwise I lose against the field. There isn't one hole. There's only, what, two par-5s and I can't reach either one. And most of the guys can't. So it's going to be -- the scores are going to be high no matter what, and we had extreme wind. We had cold weather, rain. We had it all those four days. Wind always makes it tough no matter where we are.

Q. What's it like having to manage your personal schedule, your regimes when with practice when you get into this major season when you have five majors in the space of three months?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, we're used to -- that's the way it is out here on our Tour. It's been that way for many years now. You just hope that your game is in top shape for that period of time. Obviously you'd like to play well every week, every day you tee it up. But that's how it is, and it's okay. You know, it's the middle of our season, so everybody had time to get the rest off early in the year, and now everybody should be in good form. We've all had time to prepare and to get our swing and our game in order.

Q. Corey Pavin has had a lot of Ryder Cup success and moments as a captain, as a player. He said his one favorite moment from all of his Ryder Cup experiences was here on the 18th hole after he chipped in and looked across the green and saw you. You had a big smile on your face and you tipped your hat to him. He said, that was the epitome of what the Ryder Cup is all about. A huge smile on your opponent's face, even when he's on the wrong end of a chip-in. Do you remember that moment, and do you remember the matches from 1995?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, absolutely I remember that moment very well. I just stood there watching him chip, and I had a feeling he was going to make it. It was just one of those, sometimes you just feel this is going in, and I felt it before he even pulled the club out of the bag. And sure enough, he makes it, and it was pivotal. It was an important point for them.

You know, we've been friends for many years, and that's what the Ryder Cup is about. It's really a match between 24 friends from opposites of the Atlantic. But sometimes it gets blown out of proportion. Yes, we all like to win. Of course, we're competitors. We're out here, we'd rather win than lose. But at the end of the day, we're still going to remain friends, and I'm not going to wish any bad luck on him.

Q. What are your recollections of that Sunday? So the chip-in happens late on Saturday afternoon, and you and your other 11 teammates come out Sunday, and how do you just remember the progression of the day, a little bit about your match but just how the momentum took a 180 and went in the other direction?
BERNHARD LANGER: You know, I really don't remember a great deal of that Sunday. I just remember watching Faldo play the last match. I was finished with my game, and I went out to cheer on some of my fellow competitors. I went down to 17 and watched a couple of guys, and then I think Nick Faldo was against Curtis Strange, the very last match of the -- was that the last match or not quite? I'm not sure. Anyways, they were both kind of struggling coming in, and they're very hard holes no matter -- it's just 17, 18 are probably two of the hardest holes you'll ever play anywhere, and Curtis was struggling and so was Nick, and Nick had just got it up-and-down from about 80 or 100 yards on 18 after driving it in the rough, and that was clutch, and that was in the end a very important point for us.

Q. This will be your fifth start in a major here at Oak Hill. What kind of edge do you think that experience gives players like you and Jay or players that maybe haven't played a major here?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't think it's all that important. Most of the guys have been here at least two or three times I would think and have seen the course on a number of occasions, and then they've had the opportunity to play practice rounds. So I would think it's minimal, if any, and the conditions can change. The greens today were quite firm. I had a very difficult time to stop a 5- or 6-iron on some of the greens, and then if we get rain tomorrow, it can be very different again the next day.

Q. Going back to '08, you've now played on this Tour for 10 or 11 years. Out of all the courses you've played and the conditions you've played on a week-to-week basis, was that as difficult a week as you've come up against, or is it on a short list? Where would you --
BERNHARD LANGER: Absolutely. I think that was some of the highest scoring and most difficult conditions I've ever experienced anywhere for four days in a row pretty much. Just the way the golf course is set up with the high rough they have here and fairly narrow fairways, small greens, as I said, and very well protected by bunkers, often the pin is four or five yards on behind the bunker, and if you fly it over the bunker, it hits the downslope, and then it gradually gets uphill.

You can't get the ball close. Even if you hit a perfect shot, you might have a 20-, 30-footer coming down the hill where you're going to three-putt sometimes. So it's just that type of golf course. It's not easy to play.

Q. What part of your game are you coming into this week looking to make shiny and polish and perfect?
BERNHARD LANGER: It's really everything. You need to hit fairways, like in all majors. Any time you play, but especially when the rough is as thick as it is here because sometimes or quite often if you hit it in the rough, you can't reach the green or you can't get it over the hazard in front of you. So you need to hit fairways. Then you try and hit as many greens, and if you don't hit them, leave yourself in a proper place where you might have a chance to get it up-and-down or chip in or something like that. So I'm just working on my swing, trying to hit the ball straight and solid, try to hit it where I'm looking, and then the short game is always important. You've got to make some putts and you've got to get it up-and-down. So it's really every aspect of the game has to be in order if you want to do well around here.

JOHN DEVER: How is your son doing after his high school graduation? What's he doing? Is he playing golf?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, he's part of the golf team at University of Pennsylvania, and he's just come home about a week ago, so he's going to do an internship living at home for the next three months. He's got a girlfriend, so he's madly in love, and he's happy to be home because the girlfriend is close by. I wish I could say he's happy because of the parents, but I think it's not quite true.

JOHN DEVER: Bernhard Langer, thanks, as always, and best of luck, and enjoy your week here at Oak Hill Country Club.

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