February 25, 1999
GORDON SIMPSON: Bernhard, congratulations. For a man who hadn't played one hole of Match Play since the Ryder Cup in 1997, this is the beginning of a great week for you.
BERNHARD LANGER: Thank you. I had a very good day today. Doesn't matter how much Match Play we play, I was -- I never played any Match Play as I grew up, but it is still fun. It is a nice change.
GORDON SIMPSON: 9-under par, I think, for two rounds: 6 today and 3 yesterday.
BERNHARD LANGER: Sounds about it.
GORDON SIMPSON: What has been the key in these rounds?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, yesterday, I drove the ball very well, and again, I did the same today. Hit almost all the fairways and hit the ball fairly close. Yesterday I wasn't totally happy with my putting, but today the putter was pretty hot and made numerous putts. As you said, I think I was 7-under after 12. Then managed to bogey 16 when I hit one bad -- my only bad tee shot, which ended up in the rough in a horrible lie. But as I said, I was just a bit more fortunate with my putter than Vijay. He actually played very well himself; started with the two birdies and didn't have any, or many, bogeys at all and made a number of other birds later on. And just I made more putts, and that is, in the end -- I think I was 6-under, and he was probably 4-under or something like that.
GORDON SIMPSON: You were saying to one of the TV guys out there that probably the only negative of the week is the fact that the Europeans didn't do so well yesterday. Can you pinpoint what happened?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't know. You'd have to ask the guys who lost. But I would think many of them came from Qatar where they played last week, which is, what, 12-, 13-hour time change? And whoever has done some travelling knows how difficult it is to get over A 12-hour time change. I would say it takes a whole week. I just came back from Australia three weeks ago, and I was gone for a whole week. I was not normal 'til, you know, the 7th day was over then I had felt comfortable.
Q. Are you still having nightmares about Australia?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I think I have gotten over it. (laughs).
Q. Still think about it, though?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it is too late now anyways. I can't change it. Obviously, it comes to my mind every once in a while when I mark the ball or something. It is just one of those weird things; can't explain it.
Q. Was there any turning point in the match where it could have gone either way, or were you pretty much in the driver's seat after a certain point?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, he won the first hole with a birdie, and then we both birdied the next hole. He plucked it into this bunker on the 3rd and made an incredible bunker shot to about six feet and holed the putt to tie my par. Then we just -- he lost No. 5 or 6. He bogeyed; then I made just four birdies in a row. I birdied 6, 7, 8 and 9 and really got ahead of him. Then on 12, I hit a really good 5-wood for my second shot to about 20 feet; and he was in the bunker, played a brilliant bunker shot and I made my putt for eagle. So every hole is important out there, because if there is not much between the two players, you just need every hole you can make and win.
GORDON SIMPSON: Were these long putts at 6, 7, 8 and 9?
BERNHARD LANGER: 6 was about 15 feet. 7 was about 18 feet. 8 was, again, about 18 feet and 9 was one foot. I didn't even have to putt it. 12 was about 20 feet, I guess.
Q. So he had made birdie on 12?
BERNHARD LANGER: He would have. I think his bunker shot was about five feet away.
Q. The two of you played before?
BERNHARD LANGER: No. We never played in Match Play before.
Q. How do you look forward to tomorrow? You are going to have two matches.
BERNHARD LANGER: Hopefully. (Laughs).
Q. Does that change the way you prepare or think?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, not at all. I am just going to take every match as it comes and play the best I can. And then we will take it from there, see what happens and go from there.
Q. Do you have feel any responsibilities for keeping our flag (European Flag) alive?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not really. I am not really here to represent the Europeans; so that is a Ryder Cup thing and that is, you know, some other tournaments, but not here. I am here to play the best golf I can, and I am playing for myself, not for Europe.
Q. Was the wind helpful today? It was most of the time against the par 5s; so that -- it was a real big advantage to be much longer than you were?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not really. On the second hole there was not that much wind, and I had to hit 3-wood to get there and he hit some long iron. No. 9 was into the wind, yes; so couldn't quite get there. Plus, he wasn't in the semi-rough; so he couldn't hit driver there. I think the lie wasn't good enough. 12 was downwind; so we both reached 12 and 17. I am not sure if he can get up there, but not today. It was very strong wind.
Q. On this streak from 6 to 9, were you hitting first or were you topping his shots?
BERNHARD LANGER: I was -- what do you mean the second shots or the first?
Q. Second shots. Were you giving him something to shoot at every time?
BERNHARD LANGER: No. 6 he hit first. Then I won the hole, so I hit first on 7. Then on -- we both birdied 7, actually. Then 8, I drove first and I actually hit first as well. Then 9, I hit first.
Q. You said that you were here to play for yourself and to play your best golf. How near are you to playing your best golf?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, today I was pretty happy with the day. I wouldn't mind having more of those days. Yesterday, I played fairly well. Just as I said, didn't score quite as good as I have been, but generally I am very happy with the last two days overall.
Q. Four fairly long putts in that stretch from 6 to 12. 6 was pretty difficult. Was anything more difficult than the one on 6?
BERNHARD LANGER: It wasn't that hard. I mean, I had a breaking putt off about a foot, but it is not a long hole or anything.
Q. Talking about the putts themselves?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, it wasn't particularly easy. It was a little downhill and about a foot right-to-left, but I felt good over it. I thought I might make it and just had the perfect line and the right pace. 7, I had pretty straight putt and went right in the middle. 8, was a left-to-righter, and 9 was a gimme anyways. 12 was also left-to-right. So, yeah, I was very fortunate and very happy to make those putts, because it is not every day that you make, you know, 18-, 20-footers.
GORDON SIMPSON: Anymore questions? Thanks very much and good luck tomorrow.
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