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April 8, 2010

Bernhard Langer


Q. It's the 25th anniversary of your win in 1985. What's it like to walk out 25 years later and put yourself on the leaderboard like you did today?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it's just a real blessing to be here in the first place. To be able to play for that long and stay competitive and then to have the kind of day that I had today is pretty special just to be here and play well in front of these fantastic fans.

Q. You got it to 3-under at one point. Can a 50-year-old win this tournament?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think it's possible. I think there's a handful of us like Fred Couples, Tom Watson and a handful of others, maybe Kenny Perry, that have the game to do it. But it's still early days.

Q. When you look back at the video and see the 1985 victory and the course, when you look at yourself and you look at the course, how have things changed?
BERNHARD LANGER: I've changed tons, but the course has changed a lot more. Actually they've made tremendous changes here. We used to have no rough at all, and the course was much wider and much shorter, and they've planted thousands of trees, so it's a different golf course now. The greens are kind of the same, but everything has changed dramatically.

Q. All these years later what kind of feeling does it evoke on that first tee in the first round of the Masters?
BERNHARD LANGER: It still brings up a little goosebumps just to drive down Magnolia Lane, and once you get on the property it's still very special. There's not many places like this. There's not many tournaments where we come back, especially majors, where we come back to the same course, and they do try extremely hard here. They try to improve the course every year, try to improve things for the sponsors, for the players. They've got this new practice facility, and they're constantly thriving to be the best.

Q. (No microphone.)
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm too experienced to be thinking that. There's a long ways to go. But I was trying to make another birdie coming in, I just pulled my 8-iron on 17 a little bit which made it go over the green and then hit a bad chip. So that was a bogey.
Then hit a perfect tee shot on 18 that I saw and then it just kept running, which it usually doesn't do up the hill on 18. Just rolled into the bunker, and then it was very difficult from there.

Q. We talked to you in Savannah earlier this year and you were thinking it was probably too long for you and some other guys past 50, and then you get out there and get it to 3-under. Is that the experience factor?
BERNHARD LANGER: I putted well today. I made two very long putts and played pretty good. I probably hit two bad shots or something like that. Drove it very nicely, kept it in play and played smart and made some putts, and that's what it takes.
Obviously the younger generation has a big advantage if they can hit it 30, 40 yards longer off the tee; you hit shorter irons into the green, you get closer to the hole, have shorter putts and you have more opportunities.

Q. You've been around here 28 times now. How were the conditions today?
BERNHARD LANGER: It's definitely tricky. Wind is always difficult wherever you go, but especially here among these tall pine trees as you're going up and down. We saw it again on No. 12 today; Scott Verplank hit a beautiful shot that looked perfect in the air. All of a sudden it hits short and goes in the water, and he made double bogey hitting a really good shot. That's what happens out here when the wind swirls like that.

Q. Can you talk about 11? All the guys seem to be bogeying that hole.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, 11 is 505 yards or whatever into the wind, and it was really gusty when I -- I hit a really good tee shot but still had like I think 225 to the hole into a strong breeze. So I decided to hit a 3-iron, a 3 hybrid, and try and land it just on the front and hope for a little bit of run, and the wind came up even stronger when I hit it, and then it landed 10 yards short, chipped it up to about eight feet and missed the putt.

Q. We were talking to Nicklaus today about whether somebody older than he was in 1986 could win here, and he listed a couple guys, Fred Couples, Tom Watson. I don't think your name came up. Does that bother you at all?
BERNHARD LANGER: It doesn't bother me. I think I've proven over the years that I can play this game, and when I play well I can pretty much win anywhere. But in general I would say there's -- over 50s, they can still win majors. It may be a little harder here because it's one of the longest courses that you play on the regular Tour, I believe, and it's so important to have shorter irons into these greens because they're not built to be hit with 4- and 3-irons, they're built to receive a 7-, 8-, 9-iron or a wedge.

Q. What part of your game has to be excellent besides putting for you to be able to contend?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, everything needs to be good. There's no doubt about it. For me to contend I've got to play at the top of my game. I've got to drive it well, got to hit good irons, very good irons, to give myself a few chances, and then I've got to chip and putt well. I had a couple of chip shots today that I wasn't totally happy with.

Q. How close are you then right now to being at the top of your game?
BERNHARD LANGER: Not too far away. I've been playing pretty solid the last three, four years, really, just depends how it goes during a given day and what kind of -- I mean, the 3-iron I hit on 11 was as good as I can hit it, then the wind went from about 15 to 25, all of a sudden you make bogey when you probably should have had a birdie chance. It happens.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
BERNHARD LANGER: That's how I see it. You look at Kenny Perry, he's still long and he almost pulled it off last year, and he was, what, 49 at the time, or 49 and a half or whatever. Something like that or close to that. Yeah, I think that's the main thing. Some guys like Freddie, he can still hit it long enough, and the way he's been playing lately, he'd be one of my favorites out here.

Q. The other end of the age factor, there's a 16-year-old out there. How surprising is that?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's amazing because usually around here you need some experience. How many guys have won here that have played the first time, only one, I think, Fuzzy, right? It usually takes a few rounds around here to know what you're doing and where to go, where not to go and know where the putts break and the whole thing. That's a phenomenal round of golf. If he can keep that up, that's incredible.

Q. With Watson and Norman hanging around the leaderboards for the last few years, can a veteran do that at Augusta?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, with we just talked about that the last ten minutes. Yeah, I think it's less likely here because length is more important, but it's still possible. As I said, Fred Couples, he's over 50. He's got the length. Kenny Perry is close to that age, and he's got the length. Tom Watson and I are probably 30 yards shorter than Freddie, and it's going to be a little bit harder for us, but it's still possible.

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