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September 20, 2006

Bernhard Langer


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Bernhard, we've got Richard Oliver and Natalie Ingram from the Express News and Tim Price is from the Associated Press.

Bernard, welcome to the 2006 Valero Texas Open, your first time here, I believe, and it sort of comes on a fitting weekend with two years ago you were quite busy with the Ryder Cup and that's going on in Ireland this year.

Maybe some thoughts initially about coming to play in this attorney.

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, in the past, it was always at a time when, you know, I was either in Europe playing or living in Florida, last few years.

I chose to maybe miss this and play the Florida events or the East Coast events because it's quite aways to travel to San Antonio but this year, everything has been different.

I was hurt and injured for a couple months in the summer, didn't get to play as much and didn't play as well and so now I decided to play the last probably four, five tournaments of the season.

I was going to play last week at the 84 Lumber but my dad passed away ten days ago so I went back to Germany for five, six days and spent time with my family and buried my father, so that's why I'm here this week.

But it's a beautiful place. I played a practice round yesterday. The back 9 is spectacular, back there in the hills, you know, you see a whole lot. Some of those tees you can look 50 to 100 miles it seems, maybe more. So it's quite a scene out there.

Q. I don't know if you know the history, but of late, players in the 40s have done rather well in this event.

BERNHARD LANGER: That gives me hope.

Q. Bernard, I guess with the passing away of your father and, of course, that's an emotional thing that you're going through now, also I guess on another emotional level, you're a long way from Ireland right now where something is playing out very dear to you.

Can you talk about just how what an out of body experience it must be to be sitting here while that's playing out, something you've invested so much in.

BERNHARD LANGER: It's different experience for me because since '81 I've been involved in everyone but one in '99, I wasn't involved.

So, you know, I pretty much was in 11 out of 12 Ryder Cups either as player or Captain. I'll miss it to some extent, obviously, but, you know, I reach a stage in my life where I have to move on.

One year away from turning 50 and there isn't too many Ryder Cup players who are in the late 40s or 50s. That's just life, you know. You normally peek when you're some some peek in their 20s, most of them in the 30s and some early 40s but there's not many who peek in the late 40s or 50s.

So there's a lot of young guys coming up, playing better than I do and time passes you by and now it's time for me to sit back and watch it on TV or go as a spectator and not be actively involved.

Q. I guess the next question is how will you follow it this weekend?

BERNHARD LANGER: As much as I can. I'd love to watch some of it on TV, obviously, but my main focus will be on this tournament and to play golf and to play well, but I will try and catch, you know, some on television whether it's highlights in the evening or some stuff depending on my tee times.

Q. If you do get a chance to watch it live, what sort of things can you look for in that sort of competition just significant watching on TV that you couldn't pick up being there?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, being there, you can't see everything that they show on TV. You know, even when I was Captain two years ago, you only see the match you're watching so I try to get on some holes where you can actually see two, three, where they kind of come together but you can never see all the matches, and television is unique in that way that, you know, you can see a lot more golf than actually being there.

But you don't quite get the atmosphere watching it on TV all the other stuff that goes on. But, you know, I'll be watching for momentum swings and obviously I'll be interested in the parings and stuff like that because I was a Captain two years ago and a player for ten times.

I know what goes into a lot of thoughts, lot of tactics go into certain things and then see the outcome.

Q. Perhaps unwittingly, you've actually been a little bit a part of this year's Ryder Cup because of obviously talking to Tom who is your dear friend and both of you share a lost spiritual values and Ian who hasn't really talked to you.

Do you find it kind of interesting that you kind of got

BERNHARD LANGER: I think most of that is really the press, whether it's the English writing press and we know there's a few who look for anything take they can grope for to fill their papers or magazines and that was really was very innocent.

It was very you know, even the times I talked to Tom, there was no secrets such given away or any details. We were just talking generalities and, you know, so when they asked me did Tom talk to you, yeah, we talked a few times but they didn't go any further and I didn't feel I had to but there were no secrets given away and then they asked whether Ian talked and I said no, he hasn't.

Maybe that's his style or personality and if he thinks he's got it all under control and he wants to do it his way, that's fine. I accept that. I have no problem with it at all.

You know, the press build it up and then they made another one and that's how it goes. I've seen it over the last 20 years.

Q. So not to build it up, Ian never did chat with you at all?

BERNHARD LANGER: No. He's been involved in many Ryder Cups and he has it under control. He thinks he knows what he's doing.

He's got his own co captain and he wants to do it his way, whatever. That's fine. I accept that. I have no gripes or anything with it at all. That's fine.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you give us any insight now that it's Wednesday on how parings are done at this point in the competition?

BERNHARD LANGER: They will be practicing a certain way already. The Captain will put, you know, the players together who he thinks might play 4 somes and 4 balls and they probably will practice 4 somes and 4 balls because it's something we never play. It's a good thing to practice. You don't do something on Friday morning that you haven't done for two years.

Q. Having been a Captain now, is the way that you will follow the event, has it changed your perception of it, will you do different things now than say in '99 when you were following it?

BERNHARD LANGER: Probably a little bit because I know there's a lot more goes into it than I ever knew as a player.

I mean I watched my Captain and I had four different Captain in the times I played and I learned from all of them certain things and it was all good but now I know that far more stuff goes into all that than you would know as a player or certainly as a spectator.

Q. Is there anyone who will be at the competition that you expect phone calls from maybe updates or this is something that happened maybe you didn't see on TV?

BERNHARD LANGER: I'm not sure. Probably not from the players because they're too busy and too involved, it's really not their job to call friends or past Captain or whatever and inform them about stuff.

It's the same with everybody that is there. I had a great time with the press officers and the team that was my supporting team from the Tour so, you know, I expect them maybe to send me a fax or something or leave me a message that it's going great or whatever, but even that might not happen because there's so much happening, so much going on.

There's so many requests on everybody that is working behind the scene that they're too busy, you know for that kind stuff.

Q. As far as your career, you're about 150th on the money list, right there to get your card again for next year.

Also looking ahead, you got the Champions Tour ahead. I know several of the golfers on the Champions Tour, you're the guy who is actually playing among that core that maybe gets into the Champions Tour you're a former major winner, your game appears to be in pretty good shape.

Do you look at it, at the Champions Tour as competitive landscape for you?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, definitely. The more closer I get, the more I devote time to that and thoughts and all that and what I'm going to do but at this time I got one year to go, end of August is when I turn 50, but right now, I definitely think I'll be joining the Champions Tour and spend a few years out there because it's just extremely tough to play out here against some of these young guys that hit it 40, 50 yards by me and the courses are getting longer and longer. It's just tough.

It's no fun playing out here and finishing 20th, 30th, 50th, you know, missing the cut in there when you've won for so many years and so many events worldwide.

You'd like to win again and hopefully I'll get in contention a few times on the Champions Tour and hope I'll win again. That's really what I'd like to do.

Q. How would you characterize your game right now?

BERNHARD LANGER: It's not too far away. I played very little lately. That's the problem with all the stuff that's been going on with my neck and shoulders and lower back issues and June, July, August, my dad passed away and so there hasn't been a lot of competitive golf.

Last one I played in Munich, I had some encouraging stuff happening. I finished 13th but had it going for awhile. It gives me hope to continue on that way and, hopefully, playing these next four, five events I will catch some momentum and have some top 3 finish or something like that to get me into the top 125.

Q. What community was your father laid to rest, where was he buried?

BERNHARD LANGER: The same village where he lived all his life called "Anhousen."

We went there's only one church in the village and that's where we were. I got married, where my parents got married. Very, very close knit family. That's where we put him to rest.

Q. With regard to this tournament, what is your reaction to the course and what defense, if any, does it have to scores not being 20 under, 24 under in the tournament?

BERNHARD LANGER: I think, first of all, you have to hit the fairways. Even though the rough might not look real punishing but coming out of the rough you don't know what the ball goes. Might watch a flier. Might come out very soft.

You can't control the spin, you can't control the distance. And I see quite difficult greens here at times, lot of undulation, lot of grain and extremely fast downhill, downgrain and very tricky to get the pace and reading them correctly.

But, you know, I've only played the course once. Obviously wind always make it tough so I don't know how much the wind blows around here.

But those two wind always makes it difficult. If you have 20 miles an hour wind the scores will go right up. When they tuck the pins way in the corners, you better play some good golf.

Q. Were the greens in pretty good shape, were they receiving balls pretty well? I know they had some issues about being spongy and stuff like that.

BERNHARD LANGER: They were pretty firm. The course seems to be fairly firm altogether. I don't know how it normally plays. I don't know how much rain you'll have had here. It seems pretty firm and pretty fast.

Q. This has been talk about your career and what you're trying to do as far as this year and of course go to the Champions Tour.

It's been a reclamation, Mike Weir, Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, the world match play. He's had can you talk a little bit about players and who have had such past success such as yourself trying to get yourself back to that, what that takes mentally, emotionally I guess to get where you once were?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it takes a lot of work and dedication and got to make it your priority to play well and put the effort into it and if you do that, then you have a better chance than if you don't. There's no guarantee, but usually helps.

Obviously these guys know they can win, they've one before and they know it and it has to all come together on eye given week.

Q. Is it more emotional or mental or physical?

BERNHARD LANGER: It depends on the individual. Some have physical ailments and problems and they have to overcome those. If you're healthy then it's more mental, I think.

Q. One last question for me regarding the Champions Tour. I guess next August you turn 50?


Q. I'm guessing then you might make the transition fairly quickly and we have, of course, the Champions Tour event here at Oak Hills.

How familiar are you with Oak Hill Country Club?

BERNHARD LANGER: Played there one time in the '80s long time ago. That was the only other time I've been to San Antonio. I liked the course at the time. I don't know if they made changes or not.

Q. No. Old, historic.

BERNHARD LANGER: When that tournament what time of the year?

Q. Third week of October.

BERNHARD LANGER: I probably will be here for that one. I have to go back to my old tournament, the German Masters, that will be played in September so I'll be over there.

I have to be at that tournament just like Arnie has to be at his and Jack has to be at his.

Q. Could you foresee yourself playing the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour simultaneously like Fred Funk?

BERNHARD LANGER: I think it's really difficult. I don't know. I've talked to a couple players. They said it's pretty hard. I know it from years past in my career when I tried to combine the U.S. Tour and European Tour, that was very tough on me physically as well just travelling back and forth.

That wouldn't be a problem living in America whether you play the U.S. Tour or Champions Tour. Just dividing your time makes it harder to be on top of the money list or anywhere because you're dividing your time. It's very simple.

So it's probably better to just talk to someone, I would I would think.

Q. So once August rolls around next year you think you'll make the transition to the Champions Tour and stick with that?

BERNHARD LANGER: Pretty much. I probably will play the Masters, you know, as long as I can and maybe Hilton Head because those two are some of my favorite courses and I just enjoy being there but otherwise I'll probably mainly be on the Champions Tour.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thanks for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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