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March 30, 2008

Bernhard Langer


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Bernhard, final round 71. One of only three rounds under par today. It was sort of a tough day for most everyone but an impressive 8-stroke win. You win for your third time in 11 starts; your second time in the last three starts. And you earned 375 Charles Schwab Cup points so puts you in command there. Maybe just a couple general thoughts about this victory and then we will go through your round.
BERNHARD LANGER: I played very solid this week. First day my short game really was spot-on and then the last two days I played some very good golf all around. And the 71 today felt more like a 65, to be honest. It was that difficult out there.
When I saw that pin on 17, I had to laugh because -- (laughter) -- just the worst possible pin placement for those kinds of conditions today. But I played aggressive and pulled most of it off. Got a little bit lucky once when -- third shot -- Was it on 6, the par 5?
BERNHARD LANGER: Came up short and stayed on the bank, and then I chipped it in from there. If that spins back and goes in the water, I probably make 6 or 7. So ended up with a 4. So that was a little bonus.
But, otherwise, I really played well for most of the day and most of the week.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Just sort of take us through the round. You talked about the 6th hole and Lonnie said you made a beautiful shot out of the hazard there. Maybe just take us through the other holes.
BERNHARD LANGER: On No. 1, I had about a 10-foot putt for birdie, and I left it short which doesn't happen very often. But I think the putting green was quite a bit faster than that part of the green on No. 1 because that looked very green and the putting green looked more -- you know, a little bit brownish, faster. So Freddy and I both left our putts short from a short distance.
And then made a good solid 4 on 2 where I hit driver, 5-wood into the fringe. Actually, I stood in the bunker and had to play like this, like the ball was here and my hand was here. So I gripped down on my shaft this close to the head and just did a little flick and chipped it close. So made a solid 4 there.
Had a couple more opportunities next few holes. Actually on 4 I had left my tee shot short, misjudged the wind and chipped it very close.
And then 6, I already told you, driver, 4-iron and then I had actually a good shot with my 9-iron. Totally misjudged the wind and came up short in the bank and chipped it in from there.
Played pretty solid thereafter on 8. Trying to remember what 8 is. Did I bogey that?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, hit a really good 4-iron there and then 3-putted from 25 feet. Just hit the first one too hard and missed the return putt.
And then hit probably two of my best shots all week on No. 9. It was a really good drive and as solid a 3-wood as I could hit, and I got it to the front edge of the green and 2-putted for par. Those were two really tough shots with the wind.
And then almost made eagle on 10 when my bunker shot hit the flag but didn't go in after hitting driver and 3-iron.
Then it was a 3-iron on 12, which I left out to the right. At that point, I had a fairly large lead so I was playing a little bit away from trouble, to tell you the truth. Played a little safe. And, obviously, 12 you've got water left and bunkers so I played it out to the right. Chipped it up and missed the putt.
And then also 14 actually hit two really good shots, great tee shot, good 3-iron layup shot and then pulled my 8-iron a little bit and had a horrible lie next to the green. So chipped it long and 2-putted for bogey.
And then hit a really good 3-wood and a brilliant 9-iron into 15 to about 3 feet. That was a great birdie to make today.
And played very aggressive on 16. Hit driver when everybody else was playing to the right. I took the bunker on and the water and had a much better angle into that pin because that pin is brutal on the back left. I looked at it in the practice round and said to my caddie, "If they put the pin there, we've got to go as far down as we can." So almost birdied that one.
Got up and made a great up-and-down on 17. Another good up-and-down on 18.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: You hit 22 feet for your par save left.
BERNHARD LANGER: That was -- misjudged the first one. But at that point, I was just not trying to make any silly mistakes altogether.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Anything special about having Stefan caddie for you this week?
BERNHARD LANGER: It is always special to play in front of your family and to have him on the bag and ride with me all three days. It was pretty neat. He does a great job. He stays pretty calm and does his -- does what he has to do, and then he helped me reading some putts, and he did a very good job with that. It felt very good having him on my side.

Q. Speaking of your son, having him on the bag, I talked to him a little bit after the round. How do you deal with the caddie's fee that you would normally pay a caddie? Does it just go into a college thing? Or does he get extra dessert tonight or how does that work out?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's the good thing, my wife and I have been talking about this. I would really like to pay him like I would pay a normal caddie because that's how I normally treat people. On the other hand, I don't want to spoil him rotten and have him -- knowing him, that he has that much money in the bank or somewhere, I don't want him to go crazy. So it is a fine line. So we'll have to talk about it and see what we come up with.
I will still pay my regular caddie some money because he worked for me -- he was here Monday and was here Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and he only left Thursday night. So he deserves some of that as well.

Q. Looked like Stefan was eyeballing the car there pretty good on the 18th hole.
BERNHARD LANGER: I think he actually has a nicer car than that one, but I shouldn't say that here.
I think one of my daughters is eyeballing it real bad. We'll see who gets it in the end, right?

Q. Talk about from a competitor's standpoint, is it more exciting to win a tournament when you actually have to really battle and scrap the whole the way around as far as having someone close to you? Would you prefer to win it like that? Or is it just as exciting to win by 8 strokes?
BERNHARD LANGER: To me it is just as exciting. Obviously, the playoff I had with Jay Haas three weeks was really exciting because it was right down the wire and you never know who is going to win. Any shot could determine the outcome.
But this one, even though it is a large margin, I really never totally felt comfortable until about five holes to go because there are so many tough holes out there, so much can happen.
You can rack up two or three double-bogeys so fast or worse. If the other guy makes a birdie or two, you've lost five, six, seven shots in a string of three holes. I heard about -- Who was it yesterday had a horrible finish? David Edwards had three doubles in a row. You never know in this crazy game, especially in these conditions.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: One thing I didn't point out, when I did your intro, is even though it didn't seem like it today, you ended in 0-for-90 victory drought as far as official events in the state of Florida. So congratulations on that.
BERNHARD LANGER: Wow, there you go. It is about time. Played 90 times and never won here? My goodness.

Q. I know you are a little bit like Tiger this way, you feel if you are going to show up at a tournament, you should play to win. Given how well you played here, what will be your thoughts going to Augusta?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's a very good question. Obviously, if I play well, I think I might be able to contend; but it's a very, very long golf course nowadays, very different to what it was five years ago.
And with that in mind, I'm just -- it is going to be that much harder for me because I'm not short, but there are many guys out there on the TOUR who hit it 40 yards past me.
And 40 yards means 4-irons less into a green and that is huge, especially at Augusta where the greens are -- you know, they look big but you always have these small pockets, small plateaus. And if you come in with an 8- or 9-iron, you can stop the ball. If I have four more clubs, it is a 5-iron or 4-iron, many par 4s. I won't be able to stop it.
So I have a huge disadvantage there. But, hopefully, I can make some of that up by experience and by knowing the course very well and with a short game and hitting it straighter, whatever. I don't know.

Q. (No microphone.)
BERNHARD LANGER: Yep, he did terrific. Never heard of a guy not going for any par 5s at Augusta and playing that well on the par 5s. And, you know, he's longer than me, but he's obviously a great putter and has a terrific short game.

Q. Everybody assumed it was going to a little breezier today but not to this extreme. When you realized how gusty it was going to be, any initial thoughts? Happy? Sad? Indifferent?
BERNHARD LANGER: I can't say I was happy about it because if I was -- if I would have been five shots behind the 6, I wanted these conditions myself because that's the conditions where you can make up stuff much easier.
You know, if you get someone to shoot 2 or 3-under today and the leader plays more conservative and makes a few mistakes which is easily done, you can shoot 3-over and play a great round of golf in these conditions. It is easier to make up shots when it is like this. So -- but at the same time, I knew it was going to be tough for everyone else to go low.
And if I could shoot par or better, around that number, it was going to be very difficult for anyone outside of my group, I think, to take the lead. So I just kept an eye on Lonnie and Freddy and tried to play the best I could.

Q. Were you prepared weather-wise? Did you have everything in your bag that you needed? Or did you have to put anything extra in?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I always come prepared. I had my sweater with me, which I didn't use until the 17th hole. And we stood there two groups on the tee, or three. And I put the umbrella in because I saw it might rain. That's all I really needed.

Q. You talked, I think it was yesterday, just about taking it seriously, giving it 100%. Do you still prepare now for tournaments and for golf the way you did maybe 10, 15 years ago? I hear you're still in the gym all the time and that kind of thing.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, some stories get a little bit out of hand. One tells it to the next, the next and the fish story gets bigger and bigger.
But I still work out. I still prepare. I don't practice as much as I used to, honestly, when I'm home. You know, 20 years ago I was out there every day hitting balls, chipping, putting, that kind of thing. Now I take a couple days off, three, four days, don't do anything in terms of golf. And I work out but don't practice. And then I start practicing again toward the end of the week so I'm ready for the following week.
But I think, you know, when you get to my age, you don't need to be beating balls. I don't need to work on my swing all the time. My swing should be getting more grooved. I should know what I need to do and what my tendencies are. I don't need to be beating thousands and thousands of golf balls.
I think there's something said for more quality shots and less quantity. My goal is just to stay healthy and fit, and the rest will come.

Q. Bernhard, can you talk about how golf has changed the dynamic of the Langer family history? I think you talked in the past your father was in the German Army as a teenager. You turned pro as a teenager yourself. Here is your son as a teenager and he has a fancier car than the car they are giving away.
BERNHARD LANGER: It is not his car. It is mine but he is driving it.

Q. But your golf skill has caused a big shift in where your family is.
BERNHARD LANGER: In the fortunes, for sure, yes. I come from a very poor background. My father was a bricklayer. He actually grew up on a farm, and they got kicked out overnight, had to leave with nothing, just what they could carry basically. So he had to start from scratch all over when he was 28, 30 years old. No inheritance whatsoever.
And he was a bricklayer and never made a whole lot of money. I saw -- when I was a little boy, I saw both my parents work probably 14- to 16-hour days, seven days a week. They went to church; but the rest was work, work, work. We hardly ever went on vacation and all that kind of stuff.
So I grew up learning to work myself and wanted to earn some money. I started caddying when I was 8 to earn some pocket money and turned pro when I was 15, assistant pro. Taught for three years and then, you know, turned -- went on TOUR when I was 18.
But hard work was a normal thing in our family. It is nothing unusual, so I grew up with that and that's maybe why I'm still working harder than most guys out here.
But I enjoy it. I enjoy hitting balls. I enjoy working out. I enjoy chipping and putting, and I'm very blessed to do something that I enjoy doing. That's great. Obviously, I try not to spoil my kids and it is hard to do when there is so much around them. They don't -- when I tell them story of my youth, they can't relate to it. I don't think they can because they haven't been through it.

Q. Did your kids ever know your parents?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, my mother is still alive. She is 84. My dad died two years ago, so they knew both of them for many years. And they are great role models. My mother still is. They all know that, and they agree with it. Doesn't mean that they will be exactly like her.

Q. You're not known as a boisterous kind of guy. How does the Langer family celebrate a victory these days? Anything special? Anything different at all?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think it's just wonderful to have them with me and to, you know, have their support. We're all going to be driving home, got a 3 1/2, 4-hour drive because we're here with cars.

Q. Stop at Cracker Barrel?
BERNHARD LANGER: Hopefully, a little better than that but we have been there many times (laughter). That's my wife's favorite spot, to tell you the truth. We might visit one of them on the way home.
You know, we don't drink. We don't really drink alcohol. We're just happy; that's all.

Q. You don't really drink alcohol. What does that mean?
BERNHARD LANGER: I tell you how that works. Every once in a while I have a glass of wine but one glass of wine, not six or not two bottles. And we have a drink in Bavaria which is called radler -- in German, it is radler; and in English, it is shandi. It is half Sprite and half beer. That's what I call not a lot of alcohol because you can actually have 10 of those and you never feel it.
If you give me two beers right now on an empty stomach, I will be drunk straight away. But if I have four shandis, which is the same amount of beer with Sprite, I don't feel it.
And it is very refreshing. I have converted eight of my -- or six of my amateur partners this week. They all started drinking shandis with me afterwards and they liked it.

Q. You prefer Sprite to ginger ale?
BERNHARD LANGER: For that drink, yes.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Bernhard, congratulations again.
BERNHARD LANGER: Thanks a lot.

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