GORDON SIMPSON: Well, I think on that note, we'll open up to questions now and we'll ask Ken and George specifically if there's anything to say at this stage, but the floor is yours, ladies and gentlemen.
Q. Your period of inactivity has probably allowed you to see the progress, the way the team is shaping up; what do you think of it so far?
BERNARD LANGER: I really like the way it's looking. Obviously, there might be some more changes and most likely will be till the BMW tournament when the time is up.
I think it's a very good mixture of some experienced guys and a few new guys, and certainly players that are playing extremely well at the moment and have been for a few months. That's, you know, what I like to see as a captain.
But there is still a lot of great tournaments, lots of prize money, many World Ranking points to be played for, especially in these next three to four months, so there could be some changes.
Q. One name missing from the top of the list is Colin, and you know better more than anyone what he's meant to the past couple of Ryder Cups. Could you give us your thoughts on his current form and whether on his current form, if he would come into your reckoning for a pick, just because of his presence at a Ryder Cup?
BERNARD LANGER: First of all, we need to understand, he's gone through a very, very difficult time in his life. Thank goodness I never had to go through it, but I've seen other players go through it and most everybody struggles when that happens because it's just hard to block it out. I'm sure he can relate to that.
I am just hoping that he will be able to block it out to some extent and knowing now that it seems to be fairly final, the situation with his private life, that he can go back and focus on golf, knowing that there's not a whole lot he can do at this stage to, you know, make it any better, the private life.
But realizing that, he can go back and concentrate 100% on golf and get his game up a notch and be able to clear his mind these coming weeks and months and get back to the form that he is known to producing week after week. There's no doubt that he's a fantastic player for a very, very long time, a great guy to have on the Ryder Cup team, and very inspirational for the rest of the team, and I've love for him to obviously make the team or be very, very close to it.
You know, I have two picks, and if he's in form and if he shouldn't make it, he'll certainly be one of the guys I will consider. But there needs to be some kind of sign that he's playing reasonably well. And he has. It's not that he's been playing terrible when I look at this list; he's not that far away from actually being in the team. He's had a number of very good finishes. He won a tournament. So I really don't see a reason why he shouldn't be there by the end of August.
Q. Would you want to talk to him personally to get his own views on his own mindset and how he's coping with things before you made that decision?
BERNARD LANGER: I have talked to him personally. I called him and he called me back and we spent some time on the phone talking through it, and I'm very positive about his goals and where he's heading, and I think he'll come out of this. As I said earlier, it's a very difficult period in his life. You can't forget that in a day or two. It's going to take a little while, but time will hopefully heal some wounds and he'll be able to go on and cope with it.
Q. Can you tell us when it was you phoned him?
BERNARD LANGER: It was about a week ago or ten days ago.
Q. It's too late for your side Bernhard, but do you have any views on the 11 event qualification for the Ryder Cup team?
BERNARD LANGER: Well, it's very clear. The tournament committee and I was a part of the tournament committee, still a.m. decided on behalf of all the members of the Tour, all of the players, all of the European players, that it is a requirement to be a member of the Tour and play 11 events. Otherwise, you cannot participate in the Ryder Cup in 2004.
So everybody knew this a year ago going into the qualification, and there's a lot of stuff going on that should never have happened, really, because everybody is very clear on what needs to be done. If they choose otherwise, then it's their own personal choice. If they have other goals, they can't have it both ways all the time.
Q. Is it disappointing that certain players have chosen not to play the 11, knowing that it is a Ryder Cup year?
BERNARD LANGER: Well, as a captain, yes, it is disappointing, and maybe even for the Tour it might be disappointing that one or two players turned their backs on the Tour, on the Ryder Cup, and said, well, I've chosen not to even try; I've just chosen to do my own thing, but that's available to everyone, every individual. We don't force anyone to do anything. I think that's the proper way to do it.
Q. Have you spoke to Jesper or Luke about it?
BERNARD LANGER: I have, yeah, several occasions, yes.
Q. And what was their can you give us the gist of the conversation? Did you try to persuade them to play more?
BERNARD LANGER: I have. I've told them, you're playing good again I've been over there the last few months and I've seen him on the leaderboard on several occasions. I told him, "I'd like you to give it 100% effort to make the team." But, oh, yeah, I'm not in the Top 50 and this and that and I can't get into some of the events.
I said, well, basically, you know what you need to do, and it's up to you. If the Ryder Cup is a priority for you, then you'll find a way to make it happen. If not, then there's not a whole lot I can do. It doesn't matter how much I talk to him. I told him very clearly, I think you're playing well enough to have a great chance to make the team, and I'd like for you to give it as much of an effort as possible. But he, obviously, at this point decided not to and that might maybe still change, I don't know. But we might not even know all of the things that he should, like qualifying for a major actually counts as playing it, even if you miss qualifying. That's even something I didn't know. So I'm learning as time goes on, too.
Q. Say that again?
BERNARD LANGER: I'm not in the British Open this year, as of now. So if I enter qualifying for it, whether it's at Sunningdale or whether it's in America, which I haven't decided yet, but I need to within two days, if I enter for the tournament, the qualifying, I have entered for the tournament; it counts, even if I miss qualifying.
Did I state that correctly?
KEN SCHOFIELD: Absolutely. As long as you play.
BERNARD LANGER: As long as I play in the qualifying, it counts as a tournament played. And I think some players might not know that. I was not aware of it.
Q. Does that apply to the U.S. Open?
KEN SCHOFIELD: Absolutely. It's an entry and a participation.
Q. You were talking then as if you were talking of having spoken to Jesper; have you also spoken to Luke?
BERNARD LANGER: Yes, I had not as many conversations with Luke for some reason. It just seems like Jesper was thereabouts more often than Luke, but I have seen Luke, as well, and asked him what he's going to do. He says, well, I'd like to, but same situation. He says: I haven't played well enough in the past to be in the Top 50 in the world; so therefore I can't get into some of these tournaments which means that I'd have to play more tournaments in Europe, which makes it harder for me to have a higher standing in the Money List over in the U.S., and yet still try to qualify for the Ryder Cup.
So, he was torn, as well. He really wanted to do both, but it's not easily done.
Q. Lee Westwood's comment was that "last time I looked, the Ryder Cup was between Europeans and Americans; not between the European tour and the American tour." So there seems to be a discrepancy between the official position and his comment.
BERNARD LANGER: Well, there is a discrepancy because it states very clearly that you have to be a member of the European Tour and you have to play 11 tournaments to be a member. Maybe that was his interpretation or his understanding, but I want to reiterate, again, that the tournament committee represents all of the players, and whatever they decide, not just in terms of how many tournaments we play, in terms of everything that we do on the European tour pretty much, that goes. And there's a lot of you know, it consists mainly of players and they make they set the guidelines and they make the rules and the regulations that everyone has to abide by for the period of time.
Now, whether that's something that might be discussed afterwards, maybe it will be, like we have done in the past. We always have continuous meetings in the tournament committee and Ryder Cup committee, and they look at what has worked, what has not worked and hopefully progress from there and we have made large strides. One is, you know, this new World Ranking points list that we have first time this year, and I think it's a positive step in the right direction.
Q. Has it saddened you, the comments they have made?
BERNARD LANGER: Well, it certainly sounds like I know they both well, not two of them, maybe more, but those are the two we've heard about, that definitely would love to play in the Ryder Cup. But they don't seem to make the proper commitment to it that is necessary at this time.
So, you know, I will make an effort to talk to them again when I get back next week or when I get back on TOUR and see if I can persuade them otherwise and maybe even tell them of this qualifying, even if you enter the U.S. Open and British Open qualifying that, that actually counts as two tournaments, whether you make it or not, and that might help a little bit.
I know Jesper is in the NEC Championship, so, yeah, he's already got a few tournaments that would lighten his load and maybe he'll reconsider. And if not, then, you know, that's his choice.
Q. Perhaps you can tell us, is there a deadline for the players who have withdrawn from the qualifying to be reinstated; is it a final date?
KEN SCHOFIELD: Both players are eligible for membership if they are in categories where they are eligible. As Bernhard said, it was their choice. They were asked by this time to make to declare if they intended to fulfill the minimum requirement.
Q. If they should have a change of heart, is it too late?
KEN SCHOFIELD: No. It's their choice. Luke Donald finished in the top 115 of last year's Volvo Order of Merit and therefore as been eligible under that category.
And Jesper I think would have an eligibility under the category of the last competing European Ryder Cup team.
Q. But the question was, is there a deadline, is there a final date when they have to declare, yes, we want to be reinstated?
KEN SCHOFIELD: It's a question of really saying in good faith, they feel they can make the minimum commitment to get to the number of golf tournaments, or for a good reason why they can't. Where they had actually start to make a commitment.
Q. As Bernhard says, they realize they have two extra tournaments going through U.S. Open or Open qualifying; if they say, that's two more, or it is possible, what is the latest they can make that decision?
KEN SCHOFIELD: Well, I guess, in theory, when they could get to 11 for the year. In fairness to the comments Bernhard has made, I think Jesper may even have a fourth because the stated goal of the PGA of America is to try to get the Top 100 in the World Rankings into the U.S. PGA Championship. I think the way he's playing this year, I must say, I'm not sure if he's back in the Top 100 as we speak but he must be getting very, very close to it. So the chances are, there's four golf tournaments that he can either play in or attempt to play in from a base in the United States.
In the case of Luke, he certainly can do three of them because he will be in the U.S. PGA and he can try to qualify for the Open now in the United States and obviously somewhere in the U.S. .
Q. Do they have to play the 11 by the BMW when the Ryder Cup team is picked?
KEN SCHOFIELD: No. The 11 must be by the Volvo Masters when the season ends.
Q. So if they make a commitment to play the 11 by the Volvo Masters, that would suffice?
KEN SCHOFIELD: Yes.
Q. The door remains open for them to do that?
KEN SCHOFIELD: The door remains open because they have earned that category of eligibility. I mean, I think all we would add, we had an opportunity with one or two of you to speak during the recent Celtic Manor conference, and the Tour would simply want to in support of Bernhard's comments, the Tour, ladies and gentlemen, has no wish to be exclusionary.
But by way of a brief background, if there is time, please, this gentlemen here who happens now to be Europe's captain for the 2004 Matches and is a many time successful European Ryder Cup team member, together with other wonderful international players, exactly 20 years ago of their own volition I'm including Nick Faldo and Seve in this and Isao Aoki, by their own performance, they broke into play the PGA TOUR in the United States and as we know in the major championships there at a time when our tour had no contractual beneficial arrangements with any of these bodies.
At that moment in time, if you were as Bernhard Langer was, a member of the European Tour, or Seve, resident in Spain, the American tour until 1985 depicted their home tours not as Europe; in the case of Bernhard, it's Germany. We had one German Open. In Spain, there was two, there was a Madrid and Spanish Open.
Through their own efforts, both on the golf course and in the committee room and some of our own efforts here, particularly George and I, with Deane Beman who has then Commissioner, we got that landmark ruling that the European Tour would be regarded as the home tour, regardless if you were based in Germany or Ireland or Scotland.
And from that in the last 20 years, has grown a structure whereby the European tour increasingly has positioned itself as where, I'm talking of European born players, can and should have the opportunity to be members of both tours, the inclusion of the American majors, the inclusion of the world individual World Golf Championships, at the elite end of our tour, has all been addressed at giving an opportunity for European born professionals to professionally play on their home tour, and also, if they aspire, for if they qualify, to play the PGA TOUR. Now, that is a stated policy of the European Tour.
So then it behooves us to try to set reasonable minimum numbers so that players can have the opportunity to do both.
But what will not be possible is for the European tour, as I finish and George takes over going forward, if an increasing weight of numbers of European born professional golfers decide that their home tour is the United States. That will not work for us.
And I think we've got to have a debate within the membership to try to actually help them understand that their forefathers, such as this year's captain and others of European's great generation of champion golfers actually fought for many of the opportunities that fortunately is offered today, but with opportunity should and we believe must go some obligation.
Some people might feel that might be as little as one tournament. Many more will think 11 is not unreasonable. So that's our statement of policy.
Q. Bernhard, when did you discover that entering the qualifying counted?
BERNARD LANGER: That was actually just this morning. But that has been a rule for what, years and years and years?
KEN SCHOFIELD: It's always been there. Bernhard started in the days when our tour had Monday qualifying. I don't recall him often qualifying.
BERNARD LANGER: That may be why.
KEN SCHOFIELD: That counted as a participation.
Q. Presuming that you would have liked to have been armed with that information when you spoke to these players?
BERNARD LANGER: Well, yeah, but it was really my own fault in a sense or anybody's. I can't blame anyone for not knowing that. It just so happened that I've been a pro for 29 years, and thank goodness I haven't had to qualify the last 28 years. So it never even in my logical mind it was like, well, I try to qualify but I didn't make it so I'm not in the tournament so it shouldn't count. But that's not the way it is.
Q. But that could have tipped the balance, do you think?
BERNARD LANGER: Well, I really don't know. It might not.
KEN SCHOFIELD: Well, I think we should say, it may well be that the two players we have been referring to are not armed with every single piece of information, but we rather suspect they are. We actually think the players have been able to come to their decision thinking, in the case of Jesper, he's got 4 out of 11 that he can be in there; and Luke may be three, but that maybe still doesn't fit with their short term goals.
Q. And is that being conveyed to them because they can change their mind, but while they say no, they are not getting Ryder Cup points?
KEN SCHOFIELD: That's correct.
Q. So Bernhard, you found out this morning, you say you're going to speak to them when you get there?
BERNARD LANGER: Yeah, but it's up to them to ask, too. They don't need to be baby fed by a spoon, okay, they are all adults. If they want to play in the Ryder Cup, then what you need to do is call up your manager or yourself and call these gentlemen or anybody working for the Tour and say, "okay, give me exactly the rules, what I need to do, what are my options?" They could have done that and if they haven't, that's their own fault.
Q. How did you find out this morning?
BERNARD LANGER: We had a conversation. It actually came up because I'm not in the British Open and I'm not in the U.S. Open. I was actually saying it's very bad timing for me to be hurt because I'm like 56 or 50 something in the World Rankings. I had one good tournament out of the Wachovia, which I had entered and withdrew; and then Deutsche Bank SAP or the Volvo PGA Championship, if I had just one good tournament, I am convinced I would have been in the Top 50, which would have given me automatic exemption to the U.S. Open and British Open and now I'm not. As I said, this is the first year in a long time I have to qualify. And then Ken said, "Well, even if you shouldn't make it, it still counts as a tournament played."
That's when I went, oh, really? But I really haven't spent much time or effort because I have been exempt all these years.
Q. And if one of these players wins one of the majors?
KEN SCHOFIELD: Or both of them.
Q. Or both of them, are they immediately made honorary members of the Tour, and therefore, eligible?
KEN SCHOFIELD: They will certainly be offered honorary life membership as indeed our captain and others have been through the years.
Q. And the 11 event accumulation doesn't count then?
KEN SCHOFIELD: They can then start earning points and perhaps be eligible and available for a captain's selection.
Q. But they still have to play 11?
KEN SCHOFIELD: I don't think they do. I think one of the benefits of being an honorary life member is that your minimum obligation is removed. And what would happen is they would simply be, as some have from time to time, be removed from the Order of Merit.
Q. So you're sure?
KEN SCHOFIELD: That is correct. We don't have suspension issues for honorary life members.
Q. But if somebody now changes their mind and says, yes, I think I can commit to 11 and plays and then they are on the borderline of keeping their U.S. TOUR card and doesn't play 11, what happens to them?
KEN SCHOFIELD: As we saw, we had this before and Jesper had his heart scare.
Q. That was a medical.
KEN SCHOFIELD: Normally, if a player has a genuine problem, either by way of injury or type of commitments we've released Freddie Jacobsen to play in the St. Jude tournament. Because three weeks ago, in the same golf tournament as Bernard had to withdraw from, Freddie had to withdraw because his lady went into labor three weeks early, and he's actually missed three golf tournaments. He, I think, did the right thing. He called our office and we had a debate. It's clearly not sensible for him to be crossing the Atlantic right now. And he was third in that golf tournament last year, so he's going to play with our blessing.
Membership is an individual thing. It's not a corporate membership. European Tour, it's an individual thing. If people will make a good faith commitment and try to honor those commitments, we'd like to think we are reasonable people.
Q. But in that scenario I just painted, what happens if they don't play 11, having played in the Ryder Cup?
KEN SCHOFIELD: If they don't play the 11th golf tournament by the Volvo Masters? Well, I mean, it's a hard enough job answering a question; that's a fact as well as trying to answer hypothetical facts.
Q. Is there a stipulated penalty laid down in that situation?
KEN SCHOFIELD: There can be, yes, there can be a suspension. There can be there could be a fine, there could be suspensions. In fairness, my understanding is that when Jesper and Luke came to the decision at this moment, to be sure they were not going to be suspended because as I understand it, their intentions for the future are to regain future and maybe playing on a future team which obviously we welcome.
Q. But who would make that decision, yourselves or the committee?
KEN SCHOFIELD: Before December 31st it would call to myself as executive director, and then it would transfer to George.
Q. Can you understand a play like Jesper or Luke would choose to opt out of the glory of playing in the Ryder Cup?
BERNARD LANGER: I pretty much know Jesper's thoughts because I had breakfast or lunch with him on various occasions and not too long ago. His goal is and I'm quoting him here, these are his words, his goal is to get back into the Top 30 on the U.S. Money List this year, which will get him into all of the majors and all the World Golf Championships events next year, and it would be much easier for him to join the European Tour again as a member and hopefully qualify for the next Ryder Cup. Those are his own words.
He feels he's playing better again and he wants to get into these big events, the majors and the World Golf Championships, and he thinks the easiest way to get there is by finishing in the Top 30 in the U.S. Money List and then that will make it that much easier for him in the future to keep up the 11 tournament commitment on the European Tour, and he said one of his goals was to play in the next Ryder Cup in 2006.
Q. Where was this lunch, was this at Wachovia?
BERNARD LANGER: Yeah, I think our last conversation was on Tuesday or something when I was there and he was, also, two weeks ago.
Q. Would you explain how you did the injury you've explained when you discovered it but do you know how you did it?
BERNARD LANGER: No, I don't. I had this nagging sort of a nuisance pain for several weeks, maybe months, but it wasn't to the point where I said, "Oh, I'm not going to be able to play." It's just every once in awhile. I felt it and then it would go away and then it would be back again a couple of days later.
I played a full 18 holes on Tuesday and don't recall having too much of a problem. I even went putting afterwards for an hour and went to bed, had an early tee time on Wednesday in the Pro Am. As I got up, I felt this pain in my wrist and I was like, this is weird. So I went into the physio truck, had treatment. They bandaged it up, hoping that might help and I started hitting balls. I was like, there's no way. I could hardly grip the club. I could hardly take it in. Just hitting the ball without a divot, it was painful, and whenever I took a divot it was even worse. I just said, this is it, I can't play today.
So I immediately had some MRIs taken that afternoon to see if I should stay there and try and play or not. That was pretty obvious not, and I told you the rest of the story.
So it's been an ongoing thing for maybe eight to ten weeks before, but not very painful at all.
Q. Did Jesper cut your meat for you at lunch?
BERNARD LANGER: (Laughs).
Q. Joakim Haeggman could play himself into the team; do you have any plans for replacing him?
BERNARD LANGER: Yeah, I'm seriously thinking about it and hoping to see him either today or tomorrow while I'm here and just let him know that he has my full support to hopefully make the team as a player because he is playing very, very well and it's great to see.
And at the same time, I want him to know that I'd love to have him there as a vice captain or co captain, whatever you want to call it. It's good to see and I enjoy watching his progress and we'll see where he takes it.
Q. Do you have anyone else on standby?
BERNARD LANGER: That's what I've gone through, a number of names and lists and thinking about it and I think I still have time to make that announcement if I need to, so I'm going to watch Joakim for a little bit more and go from there.
Q. Where are you into the captaincy in terms of either speaking to former captains or other leaders of teams, maybe in your own country? Have you actually approached other captains and gone into detail about being captain of the team and leadership qualities?
BERNARD LANGER: I've talked to Mark James a little bit and Sam Torrance, not for a very long time. I actually talked to a couple of the U.S. guys, Curtis and Lanny Wadkins, just to see how their experience was and if they learned anything from it or if they did anything they wouldn't do now they cannot say.
Q. What did they say?
BERNARD LANGER: Well, I think Curtis said something like, you know, just try to enjoy it, the whole process because it's easy to get so wrapped up that there's a lot of stress and a lot of things going on and just make sure you enjoy it because it's a once in a lifetime position and commitment that you're taking, and with all of the work and the stress, it's easy to not enjoy it in a sense.
So I'm planning to enjoy it. I thought that was good advice. I'm still I've been trying to get a hold of Franz Beckenbauer when I was in Europe the last few days just to get his thoughts on captaining a team and being a leader and trying to combine 12 individuals to pull on the same string, especially 12 stars in a sense. Because these are not just the average guys; they are the best we have.
Q. And you will keep trying to get a hold of him?
BERNARD LANGER: Yeah, I have his cell number and he's just been extremely busy the last two days raising money for his foundation and playing in a golf tournament. And obviously I can't interrupt him on the ninth green to say, talk a half hour with me.
Q. What is Anders Forsbrand's role at the moment, what is he doing in his role as vice captain?
BERNARD LANGER: We talk almost on a weekly basis. He's there to support me. One of his biggest roles will be to fly up to Detroit and actually check out the golf course for me about two or three weeks before the BMW and report to me what the setup is, because that could determine who my two picks will become. I need to know whether I need to pick a straight driver or Houdini around the greens. Ideally it would be both but not many players have those qualities, so that's going to be very important for me.
Just to support me in whatever needs to be worked on and decided on.
Q. What's your schedule going to be like, obviously, the wrist creates a bit of a difficulty, but in terms of being able to monitor what's going on on the European Tour and the likely players on your team in the coming months?
BERNARD LANGER: Well, I'll monitor it really through the Golf Channel. I watch every minute I can on the Golf Channel. I've watched a lot of golf lately, to tell you the truth, and that's a great thing to have because it really helps. I get all of the statistics and other things. Obviously my injury is a bit of a problem. I don't really know what my schedule will look like, to tell you the truth because I'm not sure I'm going to be able to play in four, five, six weeks. So it's really up in the air, and I'll just have to take it week by week depending on how fit I am and I'm obviously trying to fulfill my commitments, as well.
But I've played a lot in America earlier in the year to hopefully free me up but I haven't reached my 15 yet. But at the same time, we have medical extensions and things. So hopefully I'll be keeping a close eye on them and I will be able to play a couple of tournaments.
I'm trying to qualify for the British Open; I made a commitment to that, and I just need to play well. But having this long rest, I don't know if that will be good for me or bad for me in terms of my game. I was fairly happy with the game so far, and I'm hoping I can continue when I'm through this injury.
Q. Is Sunday at Congressional more likely for the qualifier you're playing?
BERNARD LANGER: I'm really torn now to tell you the truth. It's really been on my mind the last few days whether I should play or come over and play the French Open and maybe the European Open. It's not an easy decision and I haven't made one, and I have to by Thursday.
Q. You say you spoke to Curtis Strange; did you talk about singles order at all?
BERNARD LANGER: No, we actually (laughter). It's funny enough that you mention that. We did talk about strategy a little bit. I really told him, you know, everybody gave you such a hard time about your strategy, and I said I didn't think it was all that bad a strategy. It just didn't work out because your guys didn't play as good as they should have played. That's really the bottom line. And we can argue about this day and night. I still feel that way. If a Mickelson would have beaten Phillip Price, and a Tiger would have beaten Parnevik, and a few other of their top players would have beaten the counterparts from the European team, they would have won. But they didn't. That's the bottom line.
Q. What was the reaction when you word leaked out, what was the reaction from the other players to your choice of Anders as a vice captain?
BERNARD LANGER: I thought it was very positive to the majority of the people I have ran into. There was one or two that said "that's an interesting choice."
I said, "Why is that?"
And they said, "Well, I wouldn't have come up with that, but that's okay." I mean, I remember Seve having Jimenez, and to me that, was a bit of a surprise, but, you know, in retrospect, I think it was very good.
GORDON SIMPSON: Bernhard, thanks again for your attendance today; George, Ken and Richard.
End of FastScripts.