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April 10, 2004

Bernhard Langer


BERNHARD LANGER: Good afternoon. We are pleased to have two time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, who shot 68 today. We'd invite your questions.

Q. Are you getting to know this course, Bernhard?

BERNHARD LANGER: I should, after that many times that I've been here. I think this is my 22nd Masters, and I've played many practice rounds. I should know my way around. It's just a matter of hitting the ball where I want to hit it and hopefully making some putts.

Q. A couple of guys that have been here, a lot of guys, say there are a lot of new hole locations being used this year; do you see that to be true?

BERNHARD LANGER: It is true, yes. I mean, most of them are in similar places, but they are even tighter, closer to the edge. Like on No. 12, for instance, today the pin was three on. I never remember it three on. I've seen it four on and five on but never three yards.

I see that on some of the other holes and greens, as well. Not all of them, but some.

Q. 15, maybe, from the back?

BERNHARD LANGER: There's a bunch of them. There's probably a dozen of them. Yesterday, we had a totally new one on 2, which never, ever, has been there before, certainly not the last 20 years when I've played. And some of the others are in similar locations, but maybe a little tighter than before.

Q. This was the kind of day that it was hot, greens are crusty, that all of the changes were supposed to manifest themselves. How much tougher did the course play and how much differently does it play compared to previous years, maybe three or four years ago?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, the course plays longer, to start off with, and then you have the rough. Whenever you go in the rough, you cannot control the spin of the ball, as well, unless you play square grooves, which most guys don't.

Like yesterday, I hit a reasonable drive on 17, and I was in the left rough and I had a pitching wedge, but I couldn't stop the ball on the green. I hit a perfect pitching wedge, pitched in the middle of the green, went over the green and made bogey, from 120 yards. That's the difference having rough and not having rough.

Then some of the tees being further back, obviously the equipment made up for some of that, but there's still some holes like 5 that play much, much longer and will because it gets so narrow that you might even have to hit a 3 wood, where normally before the change was made, when it was downwind, you could crank a driver up there and maybe have a 9 iron into the green or even a wedge, if you hit it perfect around the corner. There's no way you're going to do that now.

Q. Are you playing as well now as you did ten years ago when you won for the second time?

BERNHARD LANGER: Today I played very well. Yesterday and the first day, I wasn't totally comfortable with my swing and my rhythm. But I made a couple of changes, called my coach last night, Willie Hoffman, who was here the first three days of the week. He said just to try a couple of things, which I did this morning, and I felt the rhythm came back. I had a little bit more time at the top of my swing and hit the ball very solid today.

Q. If you manage to win tomorrow, will you play in the Ryder Cup?

BERNHARD LANGER: No. I said that before. I don't know why everybody keeps asking. Once I make up my mind, that's it. I said I would not play. I want to be the captain. I've put a lot of work into the captaincy already. There's a lot of personal touches and a lot of things that had to be decided, and I'm not going to change my mind, no matter how well or how bad I'm going to play.

Q. What are your thoughts on playing on Easter? The last time you won it was on Easter Sunday; can you talk about that a little?

BERNHARD LANGER: It was the most meaningful victory in my whole career so far. As most of you know, I'm a Christian, or a was a Christian in '93. I wasn't in '85 when I won the first time around. To a Christian, Easter Sunday means everything, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That gives us a life with God for eternity, and that's more than anybody ever deserves, and that's just very, very meaningful and powerful to me personally and to millions of other Christians out there.

Q. When you made the decision not to play in the Ryder Cup and decided to take the captaincy, did you envision that you might play as well as you're playing now?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I figured I had it in me. It wasn't long ago that I was on the Ryder Cup a couple of years ago. I played very well.

So I knew if I got my game together that I could possibly play my way into the team, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy. We have a lot of depth now on the European Tour and it's not going to be easy to make the Top 10.

But at the same time, you know, a couple of months ago or whenever it was, I decided to leave it at that, be the captain, let the other guys play. I've been in ten Ryder Cups as a player. That's great and that's wonderful. Now I'll let the young guys have a go at it.

Q. What was your mindset going from 14 to 15?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I was kind of mad at myself on 14. I overhooked my tee shot a little bit, which that was a bad break, and then it hit the branch and came down. If it goes through the branch, it would have had a lot less club, but that happens.

But the real thing was the second shot. I told my caddie I have to be long. Anywhere long and right, even if I'm 20 yards through the green, I have a chip coming back up the green, and I have a chance. I do not want to stay short. And I hit a fairly good shot and got up to the crest, rolled along the crest, all the way down, and just came this way, because this much further would have stayed on the green and I would have had a putt for birdie.

So I was mad at myself for just leaving it there. I had played a great chip shot and then lipped out for the putt. But I was fortunate with an eagle to come back with two very good shots to about 12 feet and then make a good putt.

Q. In your capacity as Ryder Cup Captain, have you had a chance to look at Paul Casey? What do you think of him? He's played himself into pretty good position.

BERNHARD LANGER: I played with Paul on several occasions, and I think he's one of those young guys that really have a bright future ahead of themselves. If they keep working at it and nobody messes them up, he hits the ball an enormous distance and can do everything with it.

It's just a matter of doing it consistently and then proving himself in the majors.

Q. Is he maybe ready for that bright future tomorrow?

BERNHARD LANGER: You'll have to ask him that. I don't know. But it sure looks like he's playing great golf so far this week, and he's done it before in other tournaments.

Q. Do you feel like the changes you made today are something that will stay with you or were they more of a Band Aid going into tomorrow?

BERNHARD LANGER: No. It was not a Band Aid. It's not one of those things. It's one of those things that I can do for the rest of my life.

It's basically just open my right foot a little bit and turn my right hip a little more on the backswing. It puts less stress on the back and less tension on the top of my backswing and allows me to slow down a little bit. That made it that much more comfortable.

Q. You've obviously been on a number of Ryder Cup teams. How have you found the experience of being the Ryder Cup Captain thus far?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I haven't experienced a whole lot of it. It just started a few months ago. You know, the big thrill will come when the Ryder Cup is played.

Right now, it's just a lot of decisions and paperwork and phone calls and meetings. It's not that exciting at this stage. But I'll tell you more when it's over in September.

Q. Have you been able to do all of that and still do the work you need to do on your game?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, it's obviously taken time away from other things. I just have to compromise with family and with practice. But when I play, I still practice hard and focus on my game. I just try to get everything in there, and life has been pretty hectic lately.

RONALD TOWNSEND: Thank you, Bernhard, and good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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