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March 5, 2009

Bernhard Langer


PHIL STAMBAUGH: We're joined this morning by Bernhard Langer, the defending champion of the Toshiba Classic. Bernhard, you've gotten off to a nice start in 2009 with a win and two third-place finishes.
You're currently leading the Charles Schwab Cup race. Maybe just a few thoughts about coming back to Newport Beach for this event.
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm excited to be the defending champion. I had a wonderful week last year here. It was a long finish with the 7-hole playoff. Pretty exciting. I was the fortunate one to end up on top last year.
It's a thrill, and it's great to be back this year. I think we're going to have some pretty good weather. The course looks in fantastic condition. We usually get big crowds here. A lot people come out to watch. The community really embraces this event. I think it raises more money for charity than any other event on our whole tour.
I'm really thrilled and it's really exciting for everyone involved, because it's all about charity. I'm glad to be a small part in the whole picture to raise money for charity.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: You had a chance to go around the course. Is it about the same shape-wise?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, shape-wise it's very good, very similar. I think last year we had a little bit less rain and might have been a little bit more bouncy and a little firmer.
This year they had some rain, and last week I think and yesterday. So it played a little bit softer and maybe a little bit longer, but it might dry out pretty quick the next few days.

Q. I noticed yesterday during the rain you were out there on the putting green, no umbrella. Does that kind of reflect your work ethic? And has that changed over the years? You're still just as serious and dedicated as you always were?
BERNHARD LANGER: I put a pretty good amount of work into it. I'm a strong believer in preparing very well. If you don't prepare, you can't expect anything. I have high expectations, so I try to prepare accordingly.
You know, usually if it rains real hard I'll have an umbrella. But I was covered up pretty good and it was more of a drizzle than a rain, so I felt I was okay without the umbrella.
Yeah, I'm still not working as hard as I did in my 20s and 30s because my body can't take it. You know, I can't take pounding balls for four or five hours. I spent a little bit more time on the short game and in the physio truck working out and stretching. It seems to work pretty good.

Q. Was that your son with you on the green? Is he going to be caddying for you?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, he'll be my full time caddie until June, and then he'll go college and I'll have my other caddie back.

Q. You mentioned the high expectations. When you came out here, what were your expectations in terms of winning? You won 5 out of 28 events, which is a pretty good percentage. Did you expect to win as much as you have?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I was hoping to be one of the dominant players on this tour. I was trying to win tournaments. That's really what we practice and play for. The thrill of being in contention and winning never gets old.
So my expectations, I knew this tour had some very, very good players and the competition would be tough. It was a little bit of an adjustment at first to play three rounds instead of four, and you have to be extremely aggressive from the beginning to the end if you want to win.
But that didn't take me long. I think I've done well. I've continued to work hard at it to try and stay healthy and hopefully win some more events.

Q. I've seen various numbers attributed to your career wins. Do you have a ballpark figure? I saw 75 around the world. What's accurate?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I think internationally it's about 82, but I had maybe about 30 wins in Germany alone that haven't been included in that number.
So, you know, it always depends. They were professional events, but they were mostly just German players. I don't know if they count or not. It all depends.
If you include every single event it would be in the triple digits. If it's just international stuff, it's probably more between 70 and 80, but I'm not totally sure.

Q. You touched on the charitable aspect of this tournament. Is it just a coincidence that this tournament raises as many funds as it does for charity and you get the top field and the top players to come out for this event? Just wondering how closely players look at what the tournament does for the community and whether that impacts the schedule and the events they choose to play?
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm sure it has something to do with it as well. I think the players like the golf course. They like the two tournaments here in L.A. It's convenient to come for two weeks. A lot us live in Florida or on the East Coast. So if you come this far, it's about six hours in the air, so probably ten hours in total. It's nice to play two events in a row in the same area. That's another thing.
I think most tournaments now get a pretty strong field. We looked at the last two events we played in Boca Raton and Naples, and they had very strong fields. So it has a lot to do with the schedule, and also the golf course and the community and how the tournament is run and everything. A lot of things play a part in it.

Q. What's the name of your son and his age?
BERNHARD LANGER: Stefan and he's 18. Stefan with an F. 18 years old.

Q. You've been out here a little while now. Do you think you're developing a rivalry with any particular players? I know Jay is near the top a lot of the time. Are there certain players you expect to be near the top with you?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I think, you know, the past few years it has been proven that Jay and Lauren Roberts have been two of the dominant players. Obviously there's a few others as well, Tom Watson would definitely be one. If he would play as many tournaments as some do he would be up there.
There's another handful that can be dominant. If I'm correct, the Schwab Cup has been won by Jay Haas and Loren Roberts the last three years. Similar with the Money List. I'm trying to be part of that was group and mix it up with them.

Q. (No microphone.)
BERNHARD LANGER: We're going to have -- Tom Lehman could be a big factor. Fred Couples will be joining us, and he's still playing extremely well. Numerous others. There's more and more guys coming out every year.
You know they're going ready, because they heard so many good things about the Champions Tour. Not like twenty years ago when they thought, Well, I'm basically retired when I'm 40, 45, and I might play a couple events just for fun. The guys are staying in shape and trying to practice. They know they could have another good five or ten years on this tour at least.

Q. As far as the schedule this year, besides the champions events, Masters...
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm planning on playing about twenty on this tour, and then the Masters, two events in German, the European Tour, and one European senior event. That's it. And the father/son. So about 25 in total.

Q. Obviously guys like Tom Watson son and Gary Player, Lee Trevino are not playing a full schedule on the Champions Tour anymore, yet all three of them are here this week. I know you're very fond of Gary. Does that still do anything? Give you sort of an excited vibe, the fact that you're playing against guys like that when it doesn't happen too often?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, it's not so much playing against them, it's more spending time with them and picking their brains a little bit. I was fortunate enough to be good friends of Gary Player. He was my golfing idol growing up. We played the skins game together a couple months ago. I sat on the plane with him flying over by chance, believe it or not. We were sitting next to each other for six hours flying over here, and we had some good conversations.
It's just fun being around guys like him and Lee and Tom Watson and many of the other greats in the game.

Q. Can you let us in on any of the topics on the plane?
BERNHARD LANGER: Some of it is about golf. A lot of it is about fitness and what we eat and what we should eat and what we eat. We talked about how rampant cancer is, and that it can actually being treated most sufficiently by changing your eating habits and starving the cancer and not by having radiation and chemotherapy.
Things like that. Also politics and other stuff. Golf course design. We both design golf courses. We both have several kids. He has grandkids. I'm not there yet. Things like that.

Q. Do you have an idea how inspirational Gary might be to other guys on the tour still? I think he finished top 30 first event of the year.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, he's awesome. Everybody looks at him and says, Man, it really shows it pays off when you work out all your life. He was probably the first guy who really took fitness to a different level as a golfer. Most golfers, years ago, they don't need to be that fit. As long as I can walk and turn and whatever, I feel not too bad, I'm okay.
He realized he was shorter and smaller and he didn't have the power some of the other guys had, so he just worked on his body. It shows now. The guy is 73 years old and he still makes a 90-degree shoulder turn on the backswing. He's healthy. He's got energy and he still flies all over the place. There's not many 70 year olds around that do that, you know. And he eats well. He takes care of his body, not just in fitness, but also the intake.

Q. As far as the field goes, who do you expect to see at the top the next three days?
BERNHARD LANGER: It's hard to say. I would guess Loren Roberts. His confidence is high after winning two weeks ago. Probably John Cook. He's contending in a lot of events, and he's a local boy. Maybe Tom Watson. Could be anybody. I mean, out of the 78 guys, there's probably 50 or 60 guys that could win. Gene Jones had a chance, you know, there's a lot of good players out here. Just depends who is hot.

Q. Is it fair to say you're the guy to beat?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's up to you. I would like to think if you asked the whole field that I would be mentioned a number of times, but there's a lot of other guys, too.

Q. They have some new products in the new trailers. Have you been using those? I also heard that you used the Golfgym Power Swing Trainer to warm up.
BERNHARD LANGER: Which one, the power...

Q. The Power Swing Trainer. The rubber corded one with the golf handle on it.
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm not aware of that right now, because we have different trailers this week than we did the last few weeks. We exchange them, and there's a little different equipment on some of them.
I use a lot of equipment in there. I haven't been able to work out in this one yet because I didn't have much time this week. I just got in on Tuesday. I was busy the last couple days, so I will have to familiarize myself with the new equipment. We just got new tables and new other things.
They're certainly very helpful to all of us. The equipment in there, giving us a chance to work out and get some physical therapy help or some chiropractor help when necessary, it's been extremely beneficial to my career and my well-being over the years.
I'm not sure I would still be out here and feeling as good as I am without the fitness trailers traveling with us.

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