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July 22, 2009

Bernhard Langer


RODDY WILLIAMS: Bernhard, thanks very much for coming in and joining us. Welcome to the Senior Open Championship Presented by MasterCard where you're going to be going for three in a row. It's been quite a season for you so far.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, things have been going quite well the last sort of two and a half, three years, especially this year, but even three years back, I was playing some very good golf, some of the best golf I've ever played, and it's been a nice run.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Coming down to Sunningdale, you've won here before, back in 1985, and the Seve Trophy, as well. What's it like coming back here to a place you know so well?
BERNHARD LANGER: Wells are it's always one of our favourite stops. The Europeans have all played here before, on several occasions I would think. It's a very unique golf course, just fabulous. We are in the middle of the country and it has a bit of a linksy look to it. It's a very good test of golf. This week it's probably in the best condition I've ever seen it.

Q. You had health problems through your last years on the old tour. Are you rid of the shoulder and back problems you had back then?
BERNHARD LANGER: There's always something hurting, but it's no good talking about it and making a big deal of it. You've just got to learn to live with it. I hurt my back when I was 18 and I've had issues ever since. I have weeks and months when things are better and, and then I have other days and weeks when things are worse.
You've just got to make the best of it, and the good thing is, I've only missed very few number of tournaments with my injuries.
But one of the worst mistakes I've made in my career was playing injured. There's too many times when I thought I would just play through the pain, but then your swing changes and your body makes movements to avoid the pain, and all of a sudden you lose your swing and then it takes weeks and months to get it back.
That's the one thing I would differently if I was young again.

Q. Not play injured?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, if you're injured, it's better just to take a week or two off, get it right and then come back.

Q. Coming in as the favourite, is that a question you're used to?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, pretty much. I was leading money winner in the U.S. on the Champions Tour, so wherever I go, I'm one of the favourites. It's not the first time in my career that I am considered one of the favourites.
Yeah, it really doesn't matter to me what the public thinks or who they put their money on or whatever. I'm going to go out there and play the best golf I can play and hit every shot as well as I can and hope they make some putts, and that's the bottom line.

Q. Perhaps tell us about the key to your game at the moment. You're in such good form going into this tournament.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I think the putting has been better lately, and that always makes a difference. And then, also, you know, even though you get older, you can still work on technique and you can become better. I think I might swing the club better now than I have at times when I was younger.
I might not be quite as strong or quite as flexible, but I think I can make up with that in terms of having a better technique and having more experience and knowing my game better.

Q. The fact that the courses are a bit shorter, is that a factor?
BERNHARD LANGER: A little bit. I looked at that again, on the Champions Tour compared to the PGA TOUR, and I think our average is somewhere between 7,000 and 7,100 yards on the Champions Tour, and what's the average on the PGA TOUR, maybe 7,250, 7,300. So, a little bit. It's not huge but a little bit.
It helps I guess. We are hitting it, if you compare me with some of the longer guys on the regular tour, I'm definitely probably 30 yards, 40 yards shorter. That can make a difference on some courses.

Q. This one is considerably shorter.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, but at the same time, here we can't hit driver, or we don't hit driver on many holes, because the percentage isn't there. It just doesn't pay to hit driver and bring in all the trouble.
So there's a lot of holes where we've got to be hitting hybrids or even 3-irons, and that makes the course longer again, or the second shot longer.
So even though it doesn't look long on the card, we do hit a lot of medium to long-ish irons into some of the greens because of the trouble off the tee. That's one of the unique things about this golf course. It actually gives you options. There's a number of holes where you could hit driver if you feel really confident that you can hit the perfect shot.
But if you're just slightly off, you're going to pay a huge penalty. So it gives you options on a number of holes where you can hit maybe 220 off the tee or you can go for 280, 290. Depends how aggressive you want to be.
RODDY WILLIAMS: I was just going to ask you what you thought of Tom Watson's performance in The Open.
BERNHARD LANGER: It was terrific. Probably most of the world was cheering for him and rooting for him.
I think it just -- we talked about it a little earlier. I don't think people realise how high the level of play is on the Senior Tour on the Champions Tour. It is really difficult to win out there. It's difficult to do well, because there's so many great players.
We are actually very surprised, and I'm one of them, that there's no World Ranking points on our tour. You take Tom Watson and Greg Norman, they both came very close, finished second and third in one of the majors. I played my last two European Tour events, I was in contention until the very last six holes and finished in the Top-10 in both of them. There's a lot of us out there who can play at the very highest level and could compete on the regular tour. We just choose not to play there.
The weird thing is we don't get much opportunity to play in major championships. See, I haven't been exempt in the British Open for five or six years now. I think it would be a good move to either give us some World Ranking points so we can qualify for some of the events, or maybe invite two or three of the top-ranked players on the Champions Tour or whatever to get into some of the bigger events around the world. The same players over the years have shown that they are competitive. They can play with the very best. It's not a fluke.

Q. Tom went from something like 1,300 in the world to 105 in the world.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, and he plays two events, the Masters and The Open that have World Ranking points.
Same with me, I have play two events a year two, in Germany and the Masters, I play three events and I'm still ranked in the top whatever it is, I'm not sure, 150 in the world or somewhere, just playing three events.
But might be something to throw around and consider. You know, it wouldn't be bad for any of those tournaments to have a Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Mark O'Meara, whoever, in your tournament. It's not like you're inviting or getting in players that have no history; some of the legends, some of the greatest guys that ever swung the club.

Q. So it bodes well for The Senior Tour when you see that Greg Norman and Tom Watson have done it. Have you seen any increasing interest in terms of spectator and general public coming long to the events since their performances?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, not necessarily since their performance, but I think the public, they have known us for 30 years. They have a closer connection. They are closer to us in a sense to us than they are to a 20-year-old on Tour who hits it 330 off the tee or something and they don't know him. Because we have been around long enough, they have followed us over the years, so I think their interest is fairly high, but there's still room for improvement.

Q. The spectators, are they different on this Tour than on the regular tour?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not so much. I see people from all ages. I see older people, I see middle-aged and I see kids out on our tour. So I don't know there's a big difference.

Q. What is the conversation in the clubhouse?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, there's a lot of conversations. We talk about whether it's politics or whether it's wives, kids, colleges, things that are going on in the world, things that are hurting, injuries, or it could be anything and everything. A lot of conversations, and that's one of the nicer parts about the Champions Tour, The Senior Tour, that we have been friends for a number of years. We have more things in common to talk about. It's not all business.

Q. There is some talk that the R&A might set the age for The Open Championship back to 65 after Tom Watson's performance. Do you think it would be a better idea for them to include the top-performing guys on The Senior Tour?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I'm not saying it's bad to have them play till 65. But I personally think it would be good to include maybe the top two or three on the Money List from our tour. I think it will enhance the tournament. I think it would just be a good thing to do. It should be something they should consider.

Q. One of the beauties of the Senior Tour, so many of you have played a part in the history of golf, and it's great for so many people to still see you competing at the highest level.
BERNHARD LANGER: Very much so. There's a few who choose not to, like Nick Faldo has chosen for of the television route. But most of us, Hale Irwin or Mark O'Meara or Nick Price, Andy Bean, you go on and on; there's so many that are Hall of Famers, that are major winners, and they continue to play well into their 50s, sometimes early 60s.

Q. You never managed to win the British Open; I think probably is one of the great regrets you might have in your career. Would this make up for it if you were able to pull this one off this week?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I don't know if it would make up for it, but it would be probably the next closest or best thing to it. I don't think anything makes up for the British Open. It's a championship by itself, and it's very well recognised all over the world. But I think that this one would be a close second or whatever you call it.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.

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