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May 9, 2008
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
LAURA NEAL: Let's talk about where you finished up today. You have to be pretty happy with the 67 in the afternoon with the wind conditions as they were.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, conditions were pretty tough as everybody knows; the wind gusting anywhere from ten to 25 would be my guess. Just, you know, you've got to commit to the shot and hope that you don't get a bad gust or that the wind doesn't stop and that's really all you can do, and hit the proper shot because if you put some side spin or something on it, the wind will just multiply it and make it that much worse.
I've probably had the best start to any tournament I've played in my career: I was 6-under after eight playing close to perfection, golf to perfection. I hit the ball well and putted well, did everything right.
Then on No. 9 I hit two really good shots. I was 80 yards away with lob-wedge in my hand from the middle of the fairway thinking birdie and aimed a little left because the wind was straight across and the ball never moved, hit the bank and bounced way into the bunker and then I was dead and had no shot. Hacked it out to the other side of the green and made 6 and felt sick; I felt like throwing up. When you make 6 on a hole when you're 80 yards away, feels worse than when you're playing bad.
Anyways, I had a long walk there from 9 to 10 and a little bit of self-talk. First, it was not so good, and then I tried to tell myself, hey, you would have taken 5-under anyway, even with a six on the par 5, so let's move on and get something going.
And the same thing happened to me on 10. I hit a great 9-iron off the middle of the fairway and aimed it a little left, because again, I had crosswind; ball never moved and it rolled down in that valley off the green and had a tremendously difficult 2-putt from off the green down there to come up over the hill and then a 6-foot break and made about an 8-footer or 10-footer for par.
Got a little bit lucky on 11 with my tee shot which was not so good. And then from that point on, it was a bit up-and-down. I had two great opportunities on 12 and 13 for birdie, which I missed those inside seven feet, I would guess.
And then I had a bad break on 14 when I drove it in the right edge of the fairway and it kicked right when it should have kicked left, the whole thing slopes to the left and it took a bounce straight right into the hill where the grass is this long (indicating several inches). So I chopped it out and made bogey from there.
Highlight was probably the putt on 17. I hit a 60-foot putt more or less from the very front, after hitting what I thought was a pretty good 9-iron, real solid and the wind got a hold of it and went shorter than half a pitching wedge. So, you know, that's the difficult thing about 17. You never know how much wind there is and how much spin you put on the ball, because Tommy Armour hits about the same distance as me with his irons and he hit a nice 9-iron to the top level, and I thought I had the right club and hit it solid and just climbed in the wind.
Anyways, I made that putt. It looked great from six feet in, already celebrated before the ball even got there, and sure enough, rattled right into the middle of the hole and bounced around and obviously the cheers were awesome, because that hole was packed with people.
And 18 was again disappointing. I hit a good hybrid off the tee and what I thought a pretty good 3-iron but rolled over the back and couldn't get it up-and-down from there. So a bit of up-and-down on the back side, but certainly terrific on the front.
LAURA NEAL: Do you want to give us an update on your back?
BERNHARD LANGER: I spent a lot of time in the physio trailer this week. Came here hurting in really bad four areas: My lower back, which influenced my groin and my left knee and my shoulder has been hurting for a year. So I was a mess, and contemplating of withdrawing from the tournament Wednesday evening. But I told the officials, there's a chance I might have to withdraw Thursday morning. I had a 7:30 tee time, but I started feeling a little bit better and I thought, if I can get through this, I might improve every day, and that's exactly what happened.
So, thrilled to be here, to be talking, to be swinging, and obviously thrilled with the score as well.
Q. The top three guys are all in their 40s or older, just talk about how much you think experience must mean around here.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I think it's the type of golf course where it doesn't hurt to have played it a bunch. You know, on the other hand, I think everybody has played this course numerous times, most people in the field. You have professional caddies and you have professional players, and if they get four or five or six rounds under the belt, they should have an idea where to go, where not to go.
So experience plays some part. But I think the way the golf course is playing now with the firmer greens, with the firmer fairways and the firmer greens, distance is not everything; it helps to be long, but it's not as important as some other golf courses we play on the PGA TOUR. And it's more of a golf course where precision is more important than length.
Q. The emotion you showed on the 17th green, I know it was a great putt, but was the severity of that hole, does that draw that out even more?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, the severity of the hole, but also the severity of the conditions of the day, basically. You know, every time you make a birdie, especially on a hole like that, you feel like you've gained a couple of shots on the field, not just one.
It is a grind out there. It's not easy, because it's the type of golf course where every shot can ride disaster, basically, if you're not spot on or close to it. And as I said earlier, you can make birdies if you hit perfect shots, but if you're just a little bit off, you could make a bogey, double, triple, on any given hole.
Q. Have you noticed any type of adjustment going from Champions to here, or is golf, golf?
BERNHARD LANGER: Adjustment in what sort of way?
Q. Just being at a Champions Tour event, boom, coming here; is it still just golf?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, you have to play the golf course. Obviously the guys out here hit it further and, you know, you have more and more top guys in the World Rankings. We don't have World Rankings on the Champions Tour and all that kind of stuff, but there's a lot of good players out there. We do play shorter golf courses, which is only right, because we don't hit it as far.
But for me personally, I'm just trying to have fun. I'm trying to enjoy my last few years of golf. You know, I'm 50; I'm only going to play a few more years. You're not going to see me out here in my 70s, I don't think. I want to have fun and enjoy my last few years, and that's what I'm doing out on the Champions Tour.
Q. Did they remind you that it's 72 holes this week?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't mind that. I'm used to that. (Laughter) We have a few tournaments that are 72 holes. (Laughter) I think I'm fit enough to make it.
Q. Did you expect your success on the Champions Tour to transfer here so easily?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't even look at it that way to tell you the truth. I played out here last year most of the year, and I had a very good year. I was way up there in the Money List, and I could have played all the FedExCup tournaments, which I choose not to, but that's a different thing.
So I had success; I almost won at Colonial, and I had a couple other tournaments I was in contention. So I don't really compare the two. I'm just here to play the golf course and play as well as I can.
Q. Were the conditions today in any way similar to the conditions in the final round in palm Coast this year?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I think it was even worse there. I think we had wind of 30, 35 miles an hour there. I don't think we ever reached that today, but I'm not sure; I'm not the weatherman. And you're a little bit more exposed to the wind there than you are here. You know, these pine trees may get harder. I would rather play on a links course with 30-mile-an-hour wind, because it's consistent wind. There's nothing to block it.
Here, you have these tall pines and it's the same as Augusta. The wind swirls around and goes down the fairway and comes out the other end and stuff like that and you never quite know what's going on and if you get the ball above the pines, it's a different wind than when you keep it below the pines and that's what makes it so tricky.
Q. I guess you many you like this course; you obviously didn't have to come here, and I think you've played here 23 times and only missed the cut once. Is it a course that you enjoy playing and looking toward forward to?
BERNHARD LANGER: I do. I've always enjoyed it.
Q. It's tactical and everybody says that's sort of your presence.
BERNHARD LANGER: I usually do well on courses where you have to plan your way around. It's not, give me the driver on every hole and hit it as far as you can and then, you know, find it and hit it again.
It's the type of golf course, as I said, you have to position your ball and sometimes it's better to hit a club or two more off the fairway than getting too close. In the end, you've still got to play well. You've got to hit the ball where you're looking and trying to hit it. Again, it's a bit more of a strategic golf course than some others might be.
Q. You made the bogey from 80 yards, on No. 9, and you said you were really angry at yourself; but looking at you, we never know when you're angry and when you're not. What little thing should we be looking for?
BERNHARD LANGER: If you had been close to me, you would have seen it I think. Especially I did the same yesterday; that was the annoying thing. I was 80 yards yesterday and made six there, too, with an easy pin.
So I really gave three shots away to the field from a perfect spot.
Q. You need to putt from 80 yards like you did on 17.
BERNHARD LANGER: You think so, through the bunkers and all that? Maybe I should practice that, thanks. (Laughter).
Q. Looked like a Ryder Cup conference going on in the car park the other day with Nick Faldo; wonder what you passed on.
BERNHARD LANGER: We talked a little bit and I don't have to tell you -- that's between him and me, but we did talk a few things about the Ryder Cup and so we had fun with it. You know, he's pretty experienced and he just talked about two or three things and we pretty much were in agreement anyways I think.
Q. But it's vastly secret?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I don't think it's for everybody to know. It's between him and me and it's no secret in the sense of whatever was talked about, but I just would rather keep it between him and me.
Q. Just following on from that, a senior figure from The European Tour I was chatting with a couple of weeks ago suggested you might make an inspired captain's pick for the next Ryder Cup; wonder what your take might be?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's totally up to Nick. We didn't talk about that, if that's what you're referring to -- (laughter).
But there's so many good, young players, I don't think they need me. But you know, if he thinks -- if I should play really well the rest of the year and he thinks I might be of any benefit to him, I would be gladly happy to maybe take the spot, but I doubt I'm even on his radar screen, so we'll see.
Q. And is it at all on your radar screen?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not really. It's not one thing I'm focusing on, because I can't qualify. You know, there's nothing that I play in that matters and counts for it because I'm playing most of my tournaments on the Champions Tour. So it would be totally reliable on the wildcard, and I can't rely on that; there's many others who would want it, too.
Q. Can you win this week?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think I can, if I play -- especially today was really encouraging. I actually played good yesterday. I came off the course and told my caddie, "We left three or four shots out there." Really should have been 3- or 4-under yesterday; so that tells me that there's still a cushion in there. Like I could have been better yesterday and there were a few things today where I still could have made a couple more putts or saved a shot here or there.
In these conditions, it's going to happen. If I play it similar to the way I've played the last two days, I think there's a good chance I might win, but it's very difficult. If the conditions are windy, as they are probably going to be, anybody within eight shots of the leader has a chance to win I think.
Q. Did you think at all about letting Stefan caddie for you this week?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, Stefan is going to caddie for me one more time this year, at the BMW in Munich and the rest of the time will be my professional caddie, Terry.
Q. Apologize for last year being a blur, but why didn't you play the FedExCup stuff at the end of the year? You were ranked fairly decently, were you?
BERNHARD LANGER: I was. I had my own tournament, the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Germany, which I have to play no matter what goes on, so I had to be over there. And then I figured if I can't play all four of them, I might as well not play any of them, so I just made the transition to the Champions Tour and played one there, took a week off, went to Germany and that kind of thing.
Q. You didn't think you could be like Tiger and spot the field one tournament?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I don't think -- I didn't have that confidence. (Laughter).
LAURA NEAL: Bernhard, thanks so much and have a good night.
End of FastScripts