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October 29, 2008

Bernhard Langer


THE MODERATOR: Well, Bernhard, welcome. This is your first appearance here at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and you come in now leading money winner with just a shade under $2 million, and third place in the Charles Schwab Cup Race. But maybe just talk about, you know, playing this week, and you had a week off. Maybe just looking ahead to the start of the tournament this week and number of things down the line I guess.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, there's a lot on the line this week. Because, you know, it's more prize money. It's counts double for Schwab points for fewer players. So there's more money passed out, and counting double for the Schwab Cup.
So I don't know how many guys still have a chance to win it, theoretically.
THE MODERATOR: Three very close, as you know.
BERNHARD LANGER: It could be a very exciting finish. It could come down to the last cut again, which is great. I think that's the way it ought to be. I'm just glad to be among those that have a chance.
I really like the golf course. I think it's in magnificent shape. Beautiful, fast greens, and, you know, well-manicured fairways, thick grass. So you've got to do everything well, you've got to drive it well. Hit some precise irons and roll the ball good. So it's a great test of golf.

Q. Apparently at least five people have a chance, but it's really a three-man race. Pretty exciting, I guess. Each person needs to play well, and sort of hope the other person doesn't. How do you look at it?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, the only thing I can control is my own game, and I sometimes can't control that, so (laughing). I'm just trying to play as good as I can, and don't worry about the rest of it.
I know if I play as well as I can, I can beat everybody, and that's what I'm going to try to do. Play the best golf Bernhard Langer can play, and see how that comes out to be at the end. I really have no control over Fred Funk or Jay Haas or the other guys. Just do the best I can.
And whatever, whatever the outcome will be, it's been a good year for me. I've played some good, solid golf for the most part of the year. I have no complaints.

Q. A lot of players make the decision to play from one tour to the next, some hesitate and they still play in tournaments here, a dozen tournaments there. So was that a difficult decision? And I know money-wise, it's been great. But how has the year progressed for you?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I first when I turned 50 last year, I entered last year. I thought it could be a bittersweet experience. But once I played out here four, five events, I knew this is the place where I want to play the rest of my life or, you know, the next few years.
And I'm not missing any of the other tour. I really don't. You know, I played against those young guys long enough. I've done my time out there. I really look forward to playing here for the next few years, I think. There are a lot of benefits out here.
You can plan your year a little better the few tournaments. You getting to home on a Sunday night most of the time, and come back on Tuesday or Wednesday, sometimes Thursday morning in the future, now that I'm in the top 30. Things like that. So that really improves my quality of life, too, I think.
I can spend more time with my family. It's not as hectic. Even the tee times are better. You know, on the tour the last couple years I've been getting the 7:00, 6:50, 7:10. You know, you get up at 4:00, you warm up in the dark. You play two, three people a couple times and things like that. That's not much fun, let's be honest.
So there are a lot of little things that make it a very positive experience to be out here. Plus we're all in the same age group. We can relate to each other we've known each other.
We play courses that are more adjusted to our lengths of golf, and not to the young guys who hit it 30, 40, 50 yards past. All of that makes it more enjoyable.

Q. What is the camaraderie like? How is it different out here?
BERNHARD LANGER: You seem to spend more time together. You talk more. You can just relate more, you know. I have four kids. Most these guys have kids, some have grandkids. So you know, you talk to 20-year-olds, they don't know what it's like to have kids or to be married and all that. You can't relate. So we have more things in common, you know.
The daily routine is which part of the body hurts today? A 20-year-old doesn't know that either, so, it's just different. We're at different stages in our life.

Q. Is there any moment from the last year on the regular tour where it sort of illustrates that where you were paired with someone 20, 21?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not just last year, you know. Through my 40's, it happened over and over. You're out on the PGA TOUR, and there are 15, 20 new guys, and you don't even know who they are. That's a natural thing, too. It happens every year. It's supposed to be that way.
The top and best players make it to the top. That's how it's supposed to go. But that's not so much the case here. Even when there's rookies, so-called rookies, you know. When there's a Larry Mize or Joey Sindelar, we've known him for 20 or 30 years, so they're not new to me.

Q. Other sports, since you used the word rookie, Major League Baseball comes to mind. They have a hazing or a teasing or a new guy will have something. At 50, do they have any rookie indoctrinations?
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm sure some things have happened. Nothing I'm aware of at this point. I'm pretty new to this. But I'm sure there are a few tricks played on the guys. Nothing to me though.
But you know, the other thing we did out here on the Champions Tour is we socialize a lot more with our sponsors and our amateur partners. We go to functions regularly twice a week on average, sometimes three times. You don't do that on on the PGA TOUR, you don't. Those guys don't go to cocktail parties and dinners and sit downs for two or three hours and all that stuff. So it's different out here. We give more back, I think. But at the same time, we still have a good time and enjoy ourselves.

Q. Being based out of Florida, the Champions Tour has more of a West Coast presence at events?
BERNHARD LANGER: I would disagree with that. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think we have a lot of Florida events and a lot of East Coast events. You've got a few over here. You've got two in L.A., one here, three. One in Hawaii now, but we've got a lot in Florida, a lot of North Carolina, South Carolina.

Q. Is traveling and working in your favor at this point? You obviously have some time gaps in there?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't mind the time gaps. I'm going to take weeks off anyway. I decided not to play more than two in a row the last few years. So I think the schedule suits me a lot better. I only played 25 events a year. So if we have 29 events on tour, that's better for me, in a sense, than having 43 events on tour because I'm still only going to play 25. And not all 25 will be on this tour because I still play the Masters. I play my own tournament in Germany and things like that, so.

Q. Other than the Masters in your terms, do you have other plans for the PGA TOUR?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I don't think so. I actually have to check if I'm exempt or what the thing is, because I don't know if there's anything like that. But I don't plan on playing a lot out there.

Q. Fred Funk said he's going to go back over to play on the PGA TOUR. Were you surprised with the way he's playing this year especially in the last few months considering the problems he's had with his knee?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I'm surprised that he does both tours. Fred Funk is a different case, if you want to call it that way. He started golf a lot later. He came out on tour a lot later. I was 18 when I got on tour. He was probably in his 30s or something or late 20's.
So, you know, it's totally different. He hasn't been out here as long as I have. He plays a lot more than I do. His family travels with him, so it's very different. You can't really compare the two.
Fred's a great player. He can play anywhere and be competitive. He's had success. Even the last few years on the PGA TOUR. So I don't blame him for playing out there. If that's what he should do.

Q. What do you think of the future of the PGA tournament? It's been discussed how the courses are longer, and power hitting has sort of taken over. But can a guy like Fred compete, and not just Fred, but players with styles similar to him compete given where it's going?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not on certain courses. No, there are some courses where he can compete very well, but there's probably 40% of the courses he really has a very difficult time. He can play and he might not finish in the Top 10, just because he's not long enough. And he knows that, and he picks the courses where he has more of a chance than others.

Q. Do you see things heading more that way?
BERNHARD LANGER: Seems to go more and more that way. You know, when you look at even some of the -- or especially some of the traditional courses where the tour has been year after year. They've all added a few lengths and this length and that. Look at Augusta, look at Torrey Pines, wherever you look, that's where they're going.

Q. Don't you do some course key design look, too? Are you doing longer courses in your designs?
BERNHARD LANGER: I am, you know. 20 years ago, 15 years ago I would be putting bunkers at 250 yards more or less. Now I'm putting them at 280 to 300, because that's pretty much where most golfers are hitting it.
I mean that's where the pros hit it. So you have a forward tee, 30, 40, 50 yards forward, so the amateur again, you want the hazards in play. It would be useless to build them at 200 yards or 220 and nobody even looks at the bunkers because everybody care he's them.

Q. We would look at those?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not if you're 50 yards or 30 off. You'd be 160 yards for you.

Q. Are you building 7600-yard courses?
BERNHARD LANGER: You've got to, from the back tee.

Q. The equipment and the players and equipment or some other vision?
BERNHARD LANGER: The golf course is better. The shafts, the heads are lighter and longer. And, it's you know there's no doubt in my mind that the players in general hit the ball further. I hit it as far as I've probably ever hit it in my life, and I shouldn't be at this age. I should be losing distance. So it has to be on equipment.
But the guys also workout. When I was 18, 20 and started on tour, there was nobody in the gym or very few. You know, some guys are running and jogging and doing a little of this and a little of that. But you could count them on one hand, basically. Maybe a dozen guys. But now they don't go and hit balls on the range, they go in the gym and lift weights. That is the difference.

Q. Without getting too technical, do you think the USGA announcement a couple months ago about the grooves is going to have much impact? They talk about how that might make a player use a different ball, and it might reign rein in some of the distance?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, it has nothing to do with distance. Well, it will make the players think twice whether he hits in the rough or not. But it will have some impact on the scoring because, you know, with the square grooves out of rough, you get more spin, you get more distance control.
And that certainly helps the long players, because someone who carries the ball 330 in the air, and hits in the rough, even if he has the 460 par 4, he's got 130 left, 110 to the front. So he hits his pitching wedge with square grooves and he knows how far it goes. So it's going to have an impact a little bit, yeah.

Q. 20 under won here last year. Wondered if you've seen that score the last couple of days?
BERNHARD LANGER: If the weather remains the way it is, yeah, I can see that. If we get a lot of wind, wind makes it harder. Rain makes it longer, could make it a little tougher, because the rough's pretty thick already. If you get it wet, it's going to be really tough to get out of there.

Q. Wind causes more trouble than the rain?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, definitely. Wind counts the scores up; rain, not necessarily.

End of FastScripts

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