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September 10, 2008

Bernhard Langer


KLAUS WAESCHLE: As I just told Fred Couples, I told him ten minutes at least and we did 25 more or less (laughter). Bernhard, one day before starting your tournament here, you came here with a victory on the Seniors Tour in Casa Serena, what do you expect from one side as a player, and from one side as an organiser?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think as a player, it's difficult to have high expectations because the golf course is very long, even though I've been playing fairly good golf this year. I played yesterday and today, and there's not much run on the fairways and I'm hitting a lot of 3-irons, 4-irons into the greens, which is rather difficult when you have lots of water hazards around and other things, bunkers, and all sorts of stuff.
But that's besides the point. If I play extremely well, I can shoot under par, and we'll see what that leads to. But it's definitely a golf course that favours long hitters, there's no doubt about it. They can reach -- the long hitters can probably reach all of the par 5s, and I'm just always about 20 yards too short to get there, so that's a big disadvantage already.
As an organiser, I think everything is fantastic. We have a great partner with Mercedes-Benz. We have a fantastic golf course. All of the players are raving about the condition of the golf course and how fast the greens are; they are running about 12 1/2 on the Stimpmeter, which is probably the fastest we see anywhere in Europe. It's great to see how the golf course matured and all of the hard work and the money we put into it is finally paying off.

Q. As a tournament organiser, do you not just want to bring the tees forward and give yourself more of a chance?
BERNHARD LANGER: (Laughter) that's not up to me, that's up to The European Tour officials, otherwise we might play some strange golf courses I think.
No, I think that's quite all right. I've had my chances over the years. When I was younger, I was one of the longer guys on the Tour and I'm 51 and I'm not so long anymore, so that's quite all right. I have no problems with that.
I think I'm also very pleased with the strong field that we have this year, very happy obviously that Freddie came over and Stuart Appleby and Daniel Chopra, players you don't see very much in Europe these days, obviously John Daly as well. So those are exciting players and should provide for some exciting golf the next few days.

Q. Obviously it's a very important tournament this week in its own right, especially for somebody like Søren who is defending the title, but I'm sure he would admit that he's got one eye on next week. What are your thoughts on what's been going on after Nick announced his wildcards and the controversy and how teams are shaping up?
BERNHARD LANGER: To tell you the truth, I'm not totally up-to-date with all of the news because I was in the Czech Republic last week and you don't get a lot of news there. I was away from television and all that kind of stuff so, really, I'm not which check totally up-to-date. I understand Nick picked Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.
Like always, any captain has a difficult time to pick two out of, you know, possibly six, seven, five, whatever the number is, and it's never easy. And I'm sure he thought about it in light of maybe their form lately or what the golf course, what kind of golf course they are facing for The Ryder Cup and which player might suit the golf course better and that kind of thing.
Nick is very experienced, so hopefully he gave it enough thought and made the right decisions. Obviously there are other guys like Darren Clarke and two or three others who hoped to be in and maybe had high hopes to be in it, but it didn't work out for them.

Q. Can you remember back to when you picked, I think it was Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald, how difficult of a decision was that for you, and do you remember getting any particular criticism or people talking in the press afterwards about, has he made the right decision?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, you always get some kind of criticism. In my position, I felt especially bad for Freddie Jacobson because he was next in line on the Money List and the points list, so he must have thought, well, I should be in, and he would have been in. But I was thinking of the golf course that we were going to play, Oakland Hills, and Freddie is a great putter but he is not the greatest driver, at least he wasn't then. I knew how the golf course was set up because I set Anders Forsbrand there two weeks before to check it out. And he reported back to me, and I felt that Luke Donald would be better hitting straighter than Freddie Jacobson would be, and I had to make that decision in light of hoping to win The Ryder Cup and not being popular with my colleagues or whatever.
What was the other question -- I was going to say something else to that question.

Q. You said you obviously do get some criticism --
BERNHARD LANGER: It was difficult for me to talk to Freddie and I saw his face kind of went white, lost all the blood and all that, and I knew where he was coming from because I felt a similar feeling and situation a couple years earlier. Some other people said I'm jealous Cejka because he's playing better now than me and stuff like that which is plain stupid. That's just ridiculous.
But you just have to ignore that kind of stuff because I'm great friends with Alex and I know he's a great player. I'm not jealous of him at all and I wish him all the success he could possibly have. But again, I felt Luke Donald and Monty were stronger players than Alex and maybe Freddie at the time.

Q. Where would you put the European side this time? Are they really favourites, and where do you think their strengths will lie if they are?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think you have to make them favourites just in light of the last few Ryder Cups. We've won, what, three in a row, and the last two were landslide victories. If you just go by that, they have to be favourites. If you look at the World Rankings, we have more Europeans higher up in the World Rankings than in the past, and we have even won majors now thanks to Padraig. So things are changing in that regard, too.
So I think that if you look at all that, and Tiger not being there, yes, I would make the Europeans the favourites. But what does that mean? Nothing. You know, the Americans have been favoured for years and they have lost, so it doesn't matter who we declare favourites and who is the underdog. It matters who plays better and who makes the putts and who has more fun.

Q. You're 51; is it possible for someone of your age to win an event on The European Tour, a full Tour event, do you think?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, it's definitely possible. Again it needs to be maybe on a little different golf course. I think this golf course is just too long at the moment, at least for me personally. You know, Freddie, I don't know, how old is he, 48? I think he's still long enough to win on this golf course. I could win on some golf courses, but this one is extremely tough.

Q. Martin Kaymer has proved himself an excellent player this year. What do you see, or where do you see his future taking him as a player?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I think he has no limits. If he continues to progress the way he has done the last two or three years, I can't see any reason why he shouldn't make it to the very top and even win a number of tournaments and hopefully win some majors, too.
But it all depends. I don't know the future. Nobody else does. It all depends if he stays healthy and keeps his head on his shoulders and works hard at it and progresses the way he thinks he can or the way I think he can.

Q. There's two rookies competing this week, plus our defending champion, and Graeme McDowell will be going to Valhalla next week; if you were to bump into them this week, what sort of advice would you give them going into their first Ryder Cup?
BERNHARD LANGER: Just to not let the occasion overwhelm them and enjoy it and have fun. We've worked hard the whole year to be there and enjoy it and be part of the team and play your own game and don't get too caught up in the stress and the winning thing of it. Just go out there and play the best you can.

Q. You talked about the input you had from Anders Forsbrand going to look at the course; do you think Nick Faldo bit off too much just having Ollie as a vice captain?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think he's making a mistake by not having somebody with each group, that's the only thing. I don't think he necessarily needs anymore input from somebody, but if he feels him and Ollie have plenty of experience to do it, maybe so. But I think once you have the four teams out on the golf course, I know as a captain, I would like to have one person with each group and give me information. I can't be everywhere and I need information; I need to know how they are playing and what's going on. I think he would be better off if he has somebody that's going with each group.

Q. Paul was a vice captain and he quit, so he could qualify automatically; should he have re-invited Paul McGinley to join the side?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, possibly, and I think maybe someone else as well, why not. Paul now, he didn't make the team, so if he was available and he would like to go, why not. I think Paul has been there a number of times and he would be a great asset for Nick, too.

Q. I'm sure you're not the kind of person to force your opinions on Nick, but if he had come to you or rang you this evening, would you offer him any advice, and if so, what would that be, apart from what you just outlined?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't think I should even answer that, because first of all, he's not going to ring me probably and I'm not going to ring him. So you know, why even go there. He's played in 11 Ryder Cups. He's been playing under five different captains possibly, maybe six. He should know most of the things he needs to know.
If he calls me and he has certain questions and he wants to talk about it, I'll be happy to talk to him about it but I'm not going to push myself on him.

Q. Is there maybe a danger if Europeans keep winning, that the Americans might lose interest in The Ryder Cup?
BERNHARD LANGER: If it would go on for a very long time, maybe so, but I think the American people are very proud of their country and of their nation and I think that they are not going to lose interest real soon.

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