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July 21, 2010

Bernhard Langer


STEVE TODD: Thanks a lot for coming in, Bernhard. Welcome to Carnoustie. I think you just got in in time before the weather comes in. If you could just share your thoughts going into this week at Carnoustie, a tough golf course.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I think this is probably the hardest course I know that I've ever played. Probably played in one Open Championship in '99; so this is my second time around here, and the more I play, the more I seem to respect it, how tough it is.
I saw the setup in '99. It was not very good. The way they set up the golf course, it's a lot better this time around, but it's still playing pretty tough. It gives you lots of options off the tee. You can play conservative or very aggressive, depending on your strategy and your mood and how well you hit the ball or whatever.
But whatever you do, you've got to hit a good shot. Even the conservative approach, trying to play before the bunkers, take those out, leaves you a lot of long shots into the greens. It's difficult to control the distance of the tee shot because there's so many humps and bumps; if you land on a downslope it runs 50 yards and if it stops on an upslope, it stops in five. Those are not challenges we normally face on a regular golf course.
We all know about the bunkers. There's a lot of water on this golf course, which we normally don't have on a links course, too, and the wind on top of that. So it's a good test.
STEVE TODD: Sounds like a good test. Two top 5s so far in your Senior Open career; do you feel this could be perhaps the week where you go that step further?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it can always be. That's what everybody is hoping for, and certainly I am, but you just don't know. There's a lot of great players here and a lot of things could happen on a course like this. 72 holes is a lot of golf. So we'll just have to plug along and hopefully be in contention by Sunday afternoon and pull it off.
STEVE TODD: You have obviously enjoyed some success in America since playing as a senior; how do you feel the game is turning at this point in time?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I had three weeks off in Germany, so I don't know really where my game is because I haven't played competitive in a few weeks. But I enjoyed my vacation. Had a great time with my family and my folks in Germany, which we don't see much, and so now I am going into a stretch of golf which is a lot of golf for me.
I'm playing the next three weeks, I have a week off, and I play a lot more the rest of the year. So it's going to be good to have these few weeks where I was rested and had a bit of a break.

Q. '99, did you say the setup of the course -- what in particular did you think was unfair?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I thought it was. Too many doglegs, the way they shaped the fairways. They made the doglegs out of straight holes, or more so, and some of the fairways were too narrow and some of the rough was too severe, took the driver out of the game for the great part. And a lot of guys would hit 1-iron off the tee and then 3-wood into the green, or 1-iron, 1-iron, instead of maybe driver, 4-iron and 5-iron, something like that.

Q. How does Carnoustie compare in length with what you normally play on the Champions Tour?
BERNHARD LANGER: This is at least from my feelings, it's the longest golf course we've probably ever played. It looks like it on the golf card, too. On the scorecard, 7,340, par 71. If you make it 72, you could add another 250 yards, so you're looking at 7,600, which is a lot of yardage for over-50 guys.

Q. Is that too long for seniors golf?
BERNHARD LANGER: Too long, I don't know. It's the same for everybody, but it's certainly much longer than what we normally play. And the other problem here is holes like 17, and a few other holes, you can't hit driver. Doesn't allow you to hit driver because of water hazards or so many bunkers that it's kind of too dangerous or too risky to hit driver.
So you're hitting a hybrid or 3-wood or even an iron off the tee, and then you have to make up on your second shot for that distance that you lost, not being able to hit driver off the tee.

Q. Monty said yesterday when he announced his vice captains that he felt it was the strongest backroom team ever. Now, I reckon some other captains might have something to say about that. When you think back to your own captaincy and the team you had and others, where would you put kind of the vice captains Monty named yesterday?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think they are very much up there. I think they are going to be as good as anybody. I was extremely happy with mine. They did a great job.
I'm very pleased with the people Monty picked.

Q. Do you think he's got a lot of experience there, hasn't he?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, he has people who have been there many, many times under different captains and have been in the team room and have been playing on the teams. They have seen both sides. Some of them have been -- they have all been players and they have all somewhat been involved in vice captaincy or otherwise; so they have been there many times, which is good.

Q. Colin speaks highly of you as a captain; do you think Colin will be a good captain, and has he spoken to you at all?
BERNHARD LANGER: I believe he'll be a great captain, yes, because he doesn't put himself first; he putts the team first, and that's what this is all about is team competition. It's not the Montgomerie Show; it's the Ryder Cup European Team, and I think he understands that and he will communicate well with everybody involved that needs to be talked to, especially the players and caddies.
I think all that will have a positive effect on the whole outcome, which doesn't guarantee you a victory but it will certainly help for the guys to play good.

Q. Now, have you spoken to him at all?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I saw him at the BMW tournament four weeks ago. We talked a little bit. He seems to be in good spirit. He thinks he has a good team, and he's going to have a hard time choosing the three players as most captains do.

Q. Back to your own game, some people look at you now, obviously in your prime, you were a good player, but people look at you now, your success rate; how do you compare your game now to where you were on the regular tour?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I've had periods in the last three or four years where I played as good of golf as I've ever played in my career. Maybe not day after day, but I've had weeks and months when I've played really good golf. That's encouraging. That keeps me going, trying to stay reasonably fit, and have the body perform in a way that I'd like to see it perform. Doesn't get easier. You have more aches and pains as you get older. (Smiling).

Q. How important is it to have vice captains around you and what's your idea of the ideal number?
BERNHARD LANGER: There is no ideal number. But I think it's good to have a few more eyes and a few more ears and a few brains with you who can talk to you and say anything and everything they feel for the good of the team.
It can only be positive. So I think whether it's three or four makes absolutely no difference. It's certainly good to have a couple other guys you can confide with and talk strategy with and talk through either ideas and they give you theirs.

Q. You came close in the proper Open Championship; what would it mean for you to win this event?
BERNHARD LANGER: It would mean a lot. It would be my first major as a senior player. I've always wanted to win the regular British Open. I haven't done that; I've been second and third a few times. But this would be I guess the next best thing to winning The Open Championship.

Q. Tom Watson still thinks that a senior player, it's possible for them to win on a regular major; do you believe that?
BERNHARD LANGER: I do. On certain courses, yes.

Q. What would you think the courses would be?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, the shorter courses which is more precision and not brutal length.

Q. Not like a course like this one?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's a good question, because this one, it depends how it's set up. But certainly a course like last year where they played, what was it, Turnberry, I think wasn't that long in yardage, right, if I'm correct. It was more on controlling the ball, shaping the ball, and you know, the guys out here can play. There's a lot of Hall of Famers, a lot of major winners, and there's a reason why.
So they still have a lot of game out here. They are just 30 or 40 yards shorter than the younger guys, many of us.
STEVE TODD: Best of luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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