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April 26, 2009

Bernhard Langer

Tom Lehman


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Congratulations, Tom and Bernhard, on winning the 2009 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. Before we start with a comment from each of you, I have a couple of facts here. This was the fourth playoff in Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf history and the first since 1998.
Tom, you've become the 13th player to win in your Champions Tour debut, joining such names as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on that list. You won your first Tour event in your 146th start.
Bernhard, first international winner in a team best-ball event since John Bland and Graham Marsh won in 1997, your sixth victory on the Champions Tour, second in 2009. Each of you earned 225 Charles Schwab Cup points, and Bernhard, you extend your lead in that season-long race.
Congratulations to you both. Maybe just a quick thought about the day. It was very exciting, and then we'll have each of you talk about who made the birdies and the playoff and everything.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah. I think it was a great day for golf. Just by looking at the leaderboard throughout the day, it seemed to me that there was a lot of teams making a lot of birdies and there was a lot of things changing constantly on the leaderboard.
You know, we played very, very well. Bernhard played great today. He made a lot of really nice putts. We seemed to team together well. We did make one bogey, but came back and Bernhard birdied the seventh, but overall, it was a really enjoyable three days of golf.
BERNHARD LANGER: I totally agree with what Tom said. It was really perfect. The conditions were great. We had sunshine. We had a wonderful conditioned golf course, not a lot of wind. It was all set up to really enjoy it.
And for me, team sport is just a lot of fun because we play so many individual events. To be able to have a partner and have conversations and enjoy yourself and pull for each other and talk about strategy and this and that has always been tremendous fun for me.
I've enjoyed every Ryder Cup I've been a part of, every World Cup I've played and Hennessy Cups and also other team events. I was never an amateur, so I never had the opportunity to play a lot of match play or team events in golf, and so to me it's a lot of fun.
Some time ago -- we've both been Ryder Cup captains, always on opposing teams. We've always played against each other, never had the opportunity to play with each other and together, and so we had the idea to team up here this time, and I think it was -- I had a lot of fun. I hope he had the same good time as me.
I've always admired Tom for his tenacity and his leadership, and the effort he puts into it, and everything that's about Tom is wonderful. He's been a great encouragement to me over the years, a great friend. Our families have been friends, and it's been wonderful to get to know him even a little bit better these last few days. And hopefully we can do this a few more years together. I can't think of much better than that walking the links and the fairways with a friend like Tom.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. Maybe can you just take us down the stretch after you made the five birdies in a row sort of from 15 on and then talk about the playoff.
BERNHARD LANGER: First of all, I want to say that Tom started off hot. He just birdied the first two holes and almost birdied three in a row there, and then he made another birdie on 4, and just was rock solid.
And then, as you say, we birdied 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14, and at that point, even though we weren't really leaderboard watching too much, I don't think, but you could sense we might be in the hunt. So we had to play the last few holes well, and you know, Tom hit a couple of -- hit a great putt there on 16. No, that was 14, right?
14, you made an awesome birdie putt there. I was out of the hole pretty much, and he made a great putt, about 15, 20-footer to make that birdie, and you know, keep us on the right track. Then he hit a great putt on the following hole, the 15th, which didn't go in.
I was able to make one on 16 after his lipped out, and 17 and 18 which is really, really tough pins. 17 was stuck up front. It played downwind. We both hit pretty decent shots, but they just released and both had long putts, about 40 feet or so, and neither one threatened the hole.
And 18 is a very tough hole, as you know. With that ridge in the middle of the green, if you fly it over the ridge, it's gone. So half the time it's almost -- or hit some kind of low shot in maybe which lands too short of the ridge and rolls over. And we weren't too successful in getting it really close, and I don't think anybody was. I saw one ball there which was Nick Price. He was fairly close. But everyone else you're just happy to get within 20, 30 feet.
And you know, the first time around the playoff when I made that putt, I didn't know what to do. I just jumped up in the air and let everything go. He met me up there even higher in the air. And then it was incredible that Craig Stadler made his on top of mine from almost the same place.
He was like a foot away from me, and actually my ball hit his ball approaching the green. So it was a lot of excitement out there, and I was very obviously sad to see that Sluman missed that short putt. That's not like him. He's a very solid player, and usually very good putter, and that ball just broke a little bit to the right, and he probably came out of it.
And Tom had a wonderful opportunity there with that three or four-footer or whatever it was, maybe five-footer. I'm not quite sure. But he made a beautiful stroke, right dead center, and I'm very proud of him the way he handled that.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Bernhard, your birdie putt playoff holes, Craig's was about 45 feet. Is that right.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah. I would think so. About that range. Yeah.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay. We'll open it up for questions. Please wait for the microphone.

Q. Have you guys ever practiced chest bumps, because that looked so spontaneous and so much fun. And I've never seen it on a golf course before.
TOM LEHMAN: Actually, you know, I used to play every year with Duffy Waldorf in the thing at the end of the season. It was a Diner's Club match at first and then it change names a bunch of times. It was a similar thing, a best-ball match play event. And we did the chest bump whenever something really unique or great would happen.
At the time I was probably about 205 and Duffy was 240. So it really hurt. (Laughs). You know. It really hurt. He's pretty solid. And the attempted chest bump today, we got up there with the intention of bumping, but you know, when I was in mid flight, which wasn't all that high, all I could think of --

Q. Didn't have to jump much?
TOM LEHMAN: All I could think about is we're going to come down on stop of Stadler's ball mark and he's going to be really upset, so it was like, whoa, what do we do. We shouldn't be doing this. But it was fun.

Q. Besides working on your chest bumps, is there anything you feel you need to improve on?
BERNHARD LANGER: No. Tom played really good. He drove the ball fabulous, hit a lot of great iron shots, and the only thing we maybe could have done better here or there is make a few more putts, but I'm sure there's a lot of other teams and players that could say the same thing. The greens are beautiful, but there's a little bit of grain on them and a little bit of movement here and there, and they're not that simple. But overall we made a few and we missed a few.
TOM LEHMAN: But I would say we actually had a conversation yesterday about the way we putt. We tend to putt with the kind of lag speed, and with the grain on the greens the way it has to affect the putt just enough. We thought we should hit the putt a little bit harder today. I really thought our pace was better. Most of the putts went in with good speed. Wasn't going to go five feet by, probably go two or three feet by which is about right.

Q. The excitement of making your long putt, what was the first thing that hit you when Craig made his long putt? Without even thinking, what did you say?
BERNHARD LANGER: It was unbelievable. How often does it happen that you hole two putts in a row on two shots from 45 feet? It wasn't a straight putt. I had about to aim mine about a foot, foot and a half left. And left-to-right downhiller are not usually the ones you like to make. Well, you like to make them, but it's not the ones you pull off. So it was incredible.
But you know, that's what golf is all about. We know the better player, better team will win in the end. And you win some, you lose some. And I thought we had a great chance to win it, but as I said, he made it right on top of it. And we knew, well, let's go back to that tee. I was happy for him that he made a brilliant putt and caused all that excitement and we had to go one more.

Q. Did you guys play each other in singles or in best-ball or anything in Ryder Cup? Can you kind of go over what your Ryder Cup matches were like?
TOM LEHMAN: It was a bad memory. Corey and I played Bernhard and David Gilper, I think it was, in '95, at Oak Hill, and they pounded us. So that's I think the only time maybe I played against Bernhard in a head-to-head match.
BERNHARD LANGER: Not as many times.
TOM LEHMAN: Yeah. Bernhard took us down pretty hard. But you know, that match was typical of the way he plays, and I think that's why -- I mean partnerships, as they said outside, you have to be able to trust your partner. And there's no saying I'm sorry when something bad happens, because you're giving your very best. And bad shots do happen. But you need to be able to trust your partner and know that he's going to come through for you when he has to.
And to me, you know, playing with this guy here made the week easy because there was almost never a time when I didn't feel like there was pressure on me. There was never a time I felt that much pressure because I always knew he was right there behind me, so it was good.

Q. Tom, what do you think of the senior circuit?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, I like it. I like it here in Savannah, too. I need to really say this. You know, I've never been to Savannah before, and I'm so impressed with the city. I really enjoyed the people and enjoyed the city itself, the history. It's been a really fun week.

Q. That last putt, could you imagine a team event where a 27-under par would come down to a par putt to win?
TOM LEHMAN: Well, on that hole, yes. 18th hole, I do believe that there would be a chance for a par. It seems to me that the wind switched just enough the second time on the playoff hole to where it was hurting a little bit and everybody was coming up short.
I feel like when we played the last hole of the tournament, the last official hole, the wind slightly was helping almost. And so it was easy to get the ball to go through the green. And by the time we played that second time around, everybody kept short. And it's not an easy putt.
I mean 50-foot putts up and over a ridge and down the hill are never easy. You add the pressure into it, and you know, I think, quite frankly, if Bernhard would have made his par putt, then Slu probably would have made his four-footer. But the fact that Bernhard missed his putt, I'm not sure, it just changes things psychologically a little bit. You don't have that back-to-the-wall feeling, and I was very surprised that he missed. He doesn't miss many of those. But it gave me a good idea of what the putt was going to do which was maybe slide a hair right.

Q. How long was the par putt?
BERNHARD LANGER: I would guess about 12 feet.
TOM LEHMAN: No. Maybe 10.

Q. What was the ruling when your ball or Craig Stadler's ball hit each other?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, the ruling is once the ball comes to rest on the green and it gets hit by another ball, it has to be replaced to the same spot or as close as you can find where it was. And we asked the spectators, and they said it was about a foot to the left, and then we checked with television, and then we determined, or Craig Stadler and the referee determined that it was about a foot to the left. So that's all we can do. We didn't see it. We were 180 yards away or something.

Q. Did you feel better that your ball was closer or first ball? Obviously it was further away, but if you were coming down --
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it would have been probably advantageous for me to not have hit his ball because mine might have gone closer to the hole. I think I hit his ball on the right side, and mine went further away from the hole and it stopped it, too.
Plus, now I was showing him the perfect line, because I was first to putt and he was like this much away from me. I was almost standing on his line. So I gave him the perfect read. If my ball hadn't hit his, it would have been maybe another six or ten feet further down the green, which I wouldn't have given him that kind of read. But in the end, I'm not complaining, am I?

Q. Bernhard, Craig said that he made that putt just a little bit short the first time on the regulation hole, or the final hole, and he just came up right after you and it looked like he was just determined that he was going to knock that thing in. That takes a lot of guts on his part and on your part to sink something like that. Have you ever had that happen in competition before?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, all sorts of stuff happens, but you don't see that happen very often, and you're definitely right. With all the cheers and all the whatever was going on after I made my putt, to then go up there a few seconds later and knock that thing right in the middle, my hat's off because that was very difficult to do because he must have felt some, you know, whatever it is, disappointment or even the pressure of knowing he had to make it, him or Jeff had to make the long putt or it would be done. And to stand up there and roll it right in, that's unbelievable.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: We can hardly classify this as beginner's luck. You've been playing solid golf all your career.
TOM LEHMAN: The harder you work, the luckier you get. I believe in that.

Q. Brothers, partners, former college teammates, Andy North, Tom Watson were friends for years and years. How much more was competition, if it is, a part of your partnership?
TOM LEHMAN: Competition in what way?

Q. Were you put together to win this or where you put together to play?
TOM LEHMAN: Both. Both. I would say we didn't come here to finish second, and luckily we didn't. Although if we'd have finished second or third or tenth, we would have been happy to accept that.
But yeah, I know in terms for me, I was really jacked that Bernhard asked me to play because I felt like we had the strongest team in the field, and there are some very strong teams in the field, but if you didn't believe you're capable of winning, then you shouldn't be playing. So that definitely plays into it.
On a personal side, you know you want to be with somebody you enjoy being around, and it's way more fun to compete and play with somebody when you like them than if you don't.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah. I want to emphasize that, too. I don't think the partnership was all about just winning. I asked Tom because he's been a long personal friend of mine for many, many years, and I just enjoy being together with him. And I told him that the very first day, I said, whether we win or lose, whether we finish fifth or tenth or wherever we might end up, I just enjoy being out here with you and enjoy being in your presence and enjoy the camaraderie and the friendship that we share, and you know, the same faith that we believe in, all that means more to me than winning.
But at the same time, I know he's extremely competitive and so am I. And he says, you know, we came here to win. He doesn't know how good the players are out here because he hasn't spent much time out here yet. I knew there were at least six or ten extremely good teams. I thought Greg Norman and Keith Fergus would do a lot better than they did. Then you have O'Meara and Nick Price, two players who have been knocking on the door every week.
Nick won last week so his confidence had to be high to get over that hurdle of winning again. Then you have a bunch of other teams, with Loren Roberts and Mark Wiebe, those guys can putt like nobody else can out here. And then you go on and on, and you saw what Stadler and Sluman did. And a bunch of other teams were capable of doing well, too. So we knew we had our hands full, but it was all about just having a good time together.

Q. Before we let you go, can you just run through your birdies on the Back 9?
TOM LEHMAN: All right. No. 10 was probably about four inches. Sand wedged it, almost went in the hole. 11, we both knocked it on the green and Bernhard two-putted from like 50 feet, laid it up there about a foot away.
12, Bernhard hit a great 4-iron, I think it was a 4-iron into about I would say 18 feet, made a beautiful putt there. That was a really key birdie. Par-5, 13, again, Bernhard birdied with about a 12-footer from just up the fringe. Maybe 14 feet. And the following hole I made about an 18-foot putt for birdie, and then Bernhard birdied 16 from about, I would have to say, 10 feet, 9 feet or 10 feet.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: All right. Congratulations to you both. We'll see you next year.
TOM LEHMAN: Thank you.

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