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October 13, 2004

Bernhard Langer


GORDON SIMPSON: Just in case anyone is wondering what this award is, here we are just about to do an announcement that Bernhard has been named European Tour's Golfer of the Month for September, which is pretty good going since you didn't raise a club.

BERNHARD LANGER: Didn't hit a shot and I was player of the month, that's awesome. Thank you all for your vote. (Laughter).

GORDON SIMPSON: As I think we said yesterday, it's a vote for everyone on the team and your veteran staff as well.

On to other matters. About lifting a club, is it nice to get back playing again and here at Wentworth?

BERNHARD LANGER: It's obviously nice to be back at Wentworth. It's a wonderful golf course and it's playing pretty tough right now with the wet conditions and the wind that we had. And secondly, it's just nice to be playing all together. I played the least golf in my whole career I think this year, so looking forward to the next few weeks when I get a bit of golf in.

Q. Have you been a bit rusty do you feel today?

BERNHARD LANGER: It wasn't too bad actually. I played all right. I did quite a bit of practicing last ten days or so, so I'm trying to get back into the swing of things.

Q. And an easy game to start?

BERNHARD LANGER: Very easy, yeah. Obviously, you know, playing against the No. 1 is always tough, and Vijay has played extremely well these last, well, whatever a year and a half I would think, or two years even. He'll be tough to beat, but I won't give up. I'm the underdog and I have nothing to lose. I'll have a go at him and we'll see where that takes us.

GORDON SIMPSON: Well, we know about underdog, don't we? Well, anyway, we'll move onto some questions.

Q. How much golf have you played since the Ryder Cup?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I didn't play much at all the first week after the Ryder Cup. I had some injuries I needed to nurture. Last week I practiced pretty hard almost every day, a few hours here and there and played a little bit, too. But sometimes it's the playing that you need, not just the practicing. But, you know, this year, I've played 15 tournaments I think, so far, which is by far the least in the last 30 years.

Q. Would you have had the week off then if you weren't here?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, I was planning to play in Greensboro anyways. I had actually entered the Greensboro over there because I need a few more tournaments to get my 15 in in America and when I heard that I qualified for this one, I called up over there and said, I'm sorry, I'm going to go the other way. So I withdrew from Greensboro and entered here.

Q. Have you managed to watch any of the Ryder Cup, any tapes?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, very little. I watched the closing ceremonies because somebody in Florida wanted a tape of the closing ceremonies. So I called over here and asked for a tape, one for me and one for them. So one day I had 20 minutes and I said, well, let's have a look how that went. So I watched that but I haven't really seen much of the golf yet.

Q. Do you plan to do that?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I think I would like to some day, maybe in the winter when I have a bit more time, because I haven't hardly seen any television or any pictures from it since I was out there from morning till night. Saw a bit of the highlights in the evening but very little.

Q. You didn�t like 36 holes a day here, but you decided to play this time?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, as most of you know, I had a pretty bad back for many, many years, and that seems to have settled down now. And that used to be the reason why I withdrew or didn't enter the tournament on a number of occasions. But right now, I feel I can handle it. My lower back hasn't been that bad. So hopefully they won't prove me wrong.

Q. Are you still being congratulated on the Ryder Cup victory?

BERNHARD LANGER: It pretty much comes up in the conversation still wherever I go and stuff. It's still fresh on the people's minds. Obviously amongst friends and relatives, they are still raving about it, how great a time everybody had and how well the team did and all that. And then obviously getting over here, I arrived on Monday and everybody is talking about Ryder Cup still here, which is I suppose normal. It was a monumental victory and everybody is pretty excited about it.

Q. Have you made any decisions about the captaincy?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I think it's a bit early for that. There's though rush to make that decision. I think European captain is usually not announced till July or so because we only have a one-year selection and that starts next September, I believe. So there's no rush. It's not up to me, anyways. It's up to the committee, whoever makes that decision and they are going to approach the person who they think is the best person to do it. And, you know, we'll take it from there.

Q. Did watching everyone else play help your game at all?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it didn't help my own game, let's put it that way. I wish it had. Motivation is fantastic. Just watching and being there, I saw a lot of great golf. I saw the guys hit so many wonderful shots in practice and in competition and that certainly is a motivation for me to get back into it and work hard and see if I can still do the same.

So on that part, that certainly helped. But, you know, as I told the guys, when I was walking with them around in practice and afterwards, I said, well, now I know why you guys are on the team and I'm not.

Q. Well, Thomas Bjorn was your assistant and went out and was second two weeks later?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, he can still play, we know. There's still life left in him, too.

Q. Having the experience of winning at the K Club and the Irish Open, and the Irish fans love the way you handle yourself on Irish golf courses and they would have no problem with you becoming the next Ryder Cup Captain.

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, that's very nice to know. Thank you. (Laughter.)

Q. What are the chances?

BERNHARD LANGER: I really don't know. As I said a minute ago, first of all, it's up to the tournament committee or the Ryder Cup committee and board who they are going to approach because it's their decision. And then obviously I'm going to have to -- should maybe sit down and talk with the people in charge whether I should even put my name forward or not.

But it's not that you put your name forward. I think that was wrong two years ago when so many of us kind of said, yeah, I'd like to do it, I'd like to do it, and you end up with three or four very disappointed people. It's really the better approach is for the committee to nominate one person and go and approach them and say, "Would you like to take on the job," and hopefully that person will say yes. And if not, they can go to the next guy. I think that's the best way to do it and that's the way we should leave it. I think it's wrong for me to say right now, yes, I want to do it or no, I don't want to do it or whatever. We'll have to leave that up to them.

But I've had many great times in Ireland, too. I think the people are great. I think it's going to be one of the greatest Ryder Cups ever because of the whole atmosphere with the Irish crowd. I totally agree with that.

Q. Have you received a lot of letters from people? Have you not had time to read them?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, I've been reading them. I've spent on average probably two to four hours in my office in Florida and go through stuff. It piles up. Somebody has to do it. Even though I have help there are certain things I have to do myself and that's just part of my career at the moment. You know, things have to be done and I can only delegate so many things to be taken care of by other people. There's a lot of stuff I just need to do personally.

There have been many. They have all touched me in different ways. I have so many friends all over the world nowadays, I've been around in golf for almost 30 years, and made many friends. I've met dignitaries, I've met presidents and chancellors and kings and queens and others and met a lot of other sports men and VIPs and personalities. It's amazing how many of them seem to show an interest in the Ryder Cup and that's great to see.

Q. Have you had any correspondence with Hal Sutton?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, we haven't really talked since and it's not really necessary. We spent a lot of time together during the week and before and stuff. I think everything was said that needed to be said. We'll run into each other these next few weeks somewhere but I don't think we need to be on the phone for half an hour. You know, he congratulated me right there, and the team. I thought he was very fair and very well, great sportsman, very well behaved. There was nothing negative at all and that's the way it should be.

Q. In the time you've reflected, there one moment that stands out above the others?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, I was asked on many occasions. I did a number of interviews here last few days and obviously in America, too. It would be wrong for me to just mention one incident or one thing because there are well highlights and so many great memories that, you know, I couldn't even just name five or ten because there are so many more. And they were all very special in their own way.

Initially I thought, I don't want to do a book, everybody has done a book. Every time somebody is captain there's another book. So I don't think I'm going to bring out a book about the Ryder Cup. It might be a book about something else in the future but not right away. Maybe about leadership or something different, a different approach.

Q. One of the candidates mentioned has been Larry Nelson. Could he captain having not been on the main Tour in the US for several years?

BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, yeah, why not. I think he would be a great guy to do it, actually. He's achieved a lot himself. He's been in the Ryder Cup several times, has a pretty good record in it, too. And he's still very competitive. And just because you don't play with the guys week-in and week-out doesn't mean you don't know how they play or how good they are.

You guys asked me many times during this last 12 months, why don't you think you need to be here and watching them practice and playing with them. And I honestly, I always said, no, because I can see more on television. It's like you guys watching the Ryder Cup. You would see more golf on television than being out there walking with one or two golfers around the course. You see walking around the golf course are or playing you see 70 shots or whatever and on TV you see almost every shot that's important. Through golf, I know, because I've been watching more golf these last 12 months than I've ever watched in my life because I wanted to keep my eye on the guys that might make the team or that were on the team.

Q. Your influence as far as leadership is concerned, who has taught you the most about being a leader?

BERNHARD LANGER: That's a very good question. Obviously you learn as you mature and as you grow older. I've been under a number of other captains as you know, five of them. You learn just from other people that you're around.

I think I also learned a lot from the Bible about leadership and how to handle people and how to treat them. I was trying to lead my team by serving them and loving them and encouraging them and caring for them. I think there's different types of leadership. You can lead by fear and by the whip, or you can lead the way I led, and I think my way is better. People respond more when you love them and care for them and encourage them and show that you serve them, and they want to do the best they can for you. If you lead with a whip and with fear and with other things, then some will respond because they are fearful but others might just ignore it.

Q. Did the captaincy impact your playing career --

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I knew the demands and many said, well, in the past whenever somebody captained, it's basically he's finished with his game and his career. And I disagree with that. I don't think I'm finished. I don't think I'm washed up and I plan to focus on my career again the next year. I don't think one has to do too much with the other. I knew this would be a very difficult year for me playing-wise, and I was tickled to death and thrilled that I had a tremendous start at the beginning of the season. I played very well. I capped my U.S. card immediately after the first ten tournaments and that took all of the pressure off which was great because then my injury came along and I could not play.

Because I could not play and practice, I wasn't playing very well and then the Ryder Cup demands and other things, so I just had played very little. But I don't think that means that I can't perform at a very high level again in the future weeks and months.

Q. What was the injury?

BERNHARD LANGER: It's this wrist injury that came in May and it's still bugging me a little bit. And now I have this tennis elbow on top of that, and I'm convinced that will go away in a couple of months and then I can go at it as hard as I possibly can. Hopefully, you know, if the wrist holds up I'll be all right. If it doesn't, I'll need to go to more drastic measures to have it taken care of.

Q. Did you have any moments where you felt nervous or that you might not prevail with a win?

BERNHARD LANGER: Not really, no. Obviously I was pretty nervous out there at times but we had a tremendous start and we were always ahead. We never fell behind and that helped a great deal. There were a couple of anxious moments maybe Sunday morning, Saturday morning and Sunday morning, when things went a bit against us, but I truly had faith that the guys would pull through and they did. And far better than I ever thought they would.

Q. Does your play between now and next Spring affect your feelings about the captaincy?

BERNHARD LANGER: I don't think so. I don't think it has much to do with the way I play. Obviously I would love to keep my card in the U.S. but even if I should lose it, I think I could get sponsor invites and things and play enough, 15, 20 tournaments.

If I stay healthy and I still love the game in three years' time, I would love to play the Senior Tour or Champions Tour because I think it would be fun to be one of the youngest again and maybe one of the longest and start winning tournaments again. Once you've tasted that winning feeling, you miss it. I haven't won in a couple of years and it's kind of tough. So I would like to have that feeling back.

Q. Or you may qualify for the next Ryder Cup.

BERNHARD LANGER: There's an opportunity there, too. It's a small chance but I think it's a very small chance. We saw Jay Haas make the team at age 50. I think my career has been at least as good as Jay Haas's, which doesn't mean I'm going to make it, but certainly. I think I could if I have a good year. Then I think there's a small chance of me getting in.

Q. In the next month the PGA of America will select its 2006 Ryder Cup Captain. Do they need a more laid back Captain?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it's difficult for me to answer. I think the captain needs to be respected, but I think all of the guys who are going to be up there for nomination, whether you go with Larry Nelson or Mark O'Meara or Azinger or I don't know who else they talk about, Fred Couples, they are all respected guys. They have all proven their worth. They can all make proper decisions I think.

It's just, you know, you need to see who is on your team. As a captain, you need to figure out who goes with whom and what gels. There might have been the odd mistake here and there. But when Tiger Woods plays with Mickelson you really have to ask yourself, is that the best two players I can put together? On paper, yes, but do they really like each other; do they enjoy playing with each other out there for four, five, six hours. There's more to it than just saying, well, yeah, he's world No. 1, he's world No. 3; they ought to win the match.

Q. It may be obvious as a captain to you, but was there an ego problem?

BERNHARD LANGER: I can't say because I wasn't in the team room. I didn't hear any of their conversations, I wasn't close by. So it would be wrong for me to say there was or there wasn't. I can only talk about my guys and the conversations we've had and the meetings we've had.

Q. What do you think is your legacy to the Ryder Cup?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, hopefully the legacy is one of the best players because I played in ten of them and right now I think I am the second most-winning player on the European side; and also being a captain who gave his everything for the team, and hopefully brought out the best in the team. You know, someone who was a team player and someone who served the team and was there for the team and not trying to do things his own way are have a big ego of being egotistical or whatever you say.

GORDON SIMPSON: Bernhard, a pleasure to see you back here playing golf, and who knows, you might be back here again tomorrow as a winner. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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