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March 28, 2008

Bernhard Langer


PHIL STAMBAUGH: 5-under 67 in your first official round around the Ocean Course here. It's your fifth opening round in the 60s out of six events, maybe just take us through your day. The players we brought in pre-tournament said the course was playing a little bit harder this year with the added rough, so maybe can you talk about your day.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I wouldn't know what the course was like last year but the course is a very good challenge, especially the greens are very demanding. When the breeze gets up, it's always more difficult.
Started out very well, very solid, hit driver, 3-wood on to the second green and 2-putted for birdie.
Then same thing on 6, hit driver, 4-iron onto the green, 2-putted for birdie.
No. 9 was driver, pitching wedge -- or actually 9-iron and made about a 25-footer, 20-footer.
Holed my second shot on 13, you never know, it was over the air in the bunker and a couple of guys behind the green jumped real high, so I figured it must be in. That was a full 6-iron; I think it was 188. I had to land it about 175, probably 180, somewhere in that range.
And then 14, I hit a real good drive and a 3-iron, 2-putted.
15, I hooked the wrong club on the tee, I was thinking it was 3-wood and then decided to hit driver, and sure enough, I hit it in the pot bunker there on the middle of the fairway and had no shot. Chunked it out and then my third shot hit it up next to the hole and spun back off the green all the way down the hill. Made a great up-and-down from the bottom of the hill to make bogey.
A couple of good saves on 17, 18. Missed both greens and hit brilliant chip shots to within inches of the hole.
Generally the long game wasn't quite as good as I wanted it, but the putter was good and the short game was good. I've had plenty of days where I played well and didn't get much out of it, so I would rather play not so well and score well.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: What are your early impressions of the golf course?
BERNHARD LANGER: I love the golf course. I think we should have more courses like these. It's a great design, interesting, good mixture of holes, beautiful to look at and it's in magnificent condition. I've seldom played a course in as good of condition as this.

Q. Calmer than you expected, or were you preparing for something more difficult?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I listened to the forecast and it said five to ten miles an hour I think, and that's pretty much what it was. Probably started off at five miles an hour, and now it's probably ten miles an hour out there and at times a little more when you get closer to the ocean so pretty much what the forecast was. That's all I expected. I didn't expect them to be totally wrong.
Interesting part is I got here Tuesday and played a practice round with northerly winds, and played the two Pro-Ams and it was southeast or whatever and northeast and today we started off southwest and then going to south and then to east. So I mean, it's like every day it's a different golf course.
Sometimes the wind switched, like today from southwest to east; it's almost a 180-degree switch, and that makes a huge switch on some of these holes. I've played some of these holes with driver, 9-iron and then I hit driver, 5-wood the next day because of the wind.
I'm not sure how the front nine played, but the back nine definitely plays easier with the southwest wind than an easterly wind. It will be interesting to see the guys who teed off on 10, you know, what they would say, because they would have it the opposite to us. But it looked like last few holes played a little harder when you had the wind off the ocean.

Q. Your Champions Tour career so far, are you playing about as well as you thought or better than you thought? What were your expectations and how far have you come to meeting them?
BERNHARD LANGER: It's difficult, my expectations were to hopefully be one of the dominant players out here, to have a few good years before the career is over and enjoy myself. Those really were the expectations. So far, I think I've pretty much done what I hoped for.

Q. Talking to Lonnie before you came in, he said that there are four or five holes where the tee shots are maybe a little awkward, if you miss a little bit, you're in a little bit of trouble and looking at maybe bogey or double-bogey right off the bat, and with the greens being as challenging, do you think there will be a lot of movement on the leaderboard? As you were coming in, there were three- or four-shot swings.
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, yeah, it's that type of golf course. If you hit perfect shots or very, very good shots, you are going to make birdies, possibly eagles.
But if you are just a little bit off, five yards left or right or five yards short or long, you can easily make bogey, double-bogey, sometimes worse. And you can make some of those in a row if you're a little bit off with your swing or your judgement. Just like when I did there on 15; I hit actually a good toe shot but I hit driver, and I shouldn't have hit driver. I figured I can reach it, and almost made double-bogey, you know, without ever hitting a bad shot.

Q. How long was the bogey putt?
BERNHARD LANGER: About eight feet.

Q. Do you know much about Lonnie Nielsen?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not a whole lot. I've met him whenever I came out here in September. I think that's the first time we met. I never met him before.

Q. Remember him from years ago when he was on the regular TOUR? Doesn't look vaguely familiar or anything like that?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't think we ever played much golf together to tell you the truth. I don't know when he was on TOUR. What years was he on TOUR? Yeah, I didn't join until '84, '85, so it was probably before my time. I honestly I can't remember being paired with him or anything like that.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Any thoughts about early in the week, we brought in Ian and sandy, they are sort of starting out here, all your buddies from Europe coming over here.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, this is a very attractive tour. I think it's the best, quote, senior tour, there is on the face of the earth. I think it's definitely attractive for them to come here and play a little bit; even though it's harder for someone to live over here and travel over here all the time, even though Mark James has done it and Des Smyth has done it and a few others have. It's a lot easier for me who lives in Florida.
You know, they still have a lot of game. I think Woosie has had some very good results in last few years when he's played; he's played limited, I believe, but he's had a few good finishes.
And Sandy probably has not been able to play as much as he wants to, but he hits the ball a tremendous distance, and as he gets his game together, he can be a threat on any golf course.

Q. How well do you know Fred Funk, and is he -- if you were a fan, would it be fun to watch him play golf?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, yeah, I think Freddie and I are pretty good friends. We are both believers and we go to Bible studies together and fellowship and spend some time together. I like Freddie a lot. He's very outgoing and wears-his-emotions-on-the-sleeve sort of thing and talks to people, is friendly, and is fun to watch. He's fun to be with and a good guy.

Q. Is he somebody who has maximized his skills, his talent level, the hard work and determination -- winning a PLAYERS Championship at almost 50 years old, making a couple of Ryder Cup teams?
BERNHARD LANGER: He's done very well. He's one of the straightest hitters out here. He's got a great swing and got most of the shots or all of the shots and is known to be extremely straight and precise. And on some golf courses, that's very, very important.
When you look at him in the all-time career money, he's way up there. A lot of people wouldn't think that, I think, because he's maybe he's not as recognized as a Mickelson or a Tiger or some of the other guys. But what is he, eighth on the all-time Money List or something like that? That's pretty impressive. Not easy to do. It takes a lot of good golf to get there.

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