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August 1, 2010

Bernhard Langer


PETE KOWALSKI: Okay, folks, we would like to welcome to the media center the 2010 U.S. Senior Open Champion, Mr. Bernhard Langer. Congratulations and four rounds under par on a golf course like Sahalee, that must make this Championship very special for you.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, that's pretty amazing, I wouldn't have thought I could actually do that. When I arrived here or played on Tuesday I saw the golf course was extremely tough, the greens were very firm and, you know, some of these holes you come in with 3-irons, 4-irons or 5-irons, or more and the greens were firm, the ball wouldn't stay on the green. You had to play the front edge and run it between the bunkers, and played two practice rounds and I guess I figured it out, but the key was I was swinging well enough to hit the ball most of the time where I was trying to land it and control my distance and my short game was extremely good all week.
I putted well, I chipped pretty good and my bunker game was good. I felt calm and I just had a good feeling, I had a lot of confidence in my game.
PETE KOWALSKI: If you could go through your birdies and bogies for us today?
BERNHARD LANGER: All right, the first hole I had a great up and down from the left side of the green. Hit my second shot through the green, took a big bounce and then went through and I had to chip straight downhill about 15 feet by it and I made that putt for par, which was key because Freddie made birdie, if I had immediately lost two shots that would have been pretty bad for me.
Then I hit a good tee shot on 2, hit a great second shot with a 5-iron to about 14 feet or so, pin-high.
I had a great eagle opportunity which I left short on line. Made birdie there.
The next hole I hit driver off the tee into the left rough, then 9-iron and made an incredible putt about a 15-foot break, over one of those ridges, and went right in and Freddie hit it stiff to about 6 feet or 8 feet so I figured he would make birdie anyways, which he did.
So it was big for me that I managed his -- or had the birdie when he made birdie and didn't lose any shots. Those were two. Then what else?
BERNHARD LANGER: Six, I had good tee shot, driver and then a 6-iron and it rolled around to 8 or 10 feet left of the hole and made a solid putt there.
PETE KOWALSKI: The rest were pars. Any good saves in your mind?
BERNHARD LANGER: There were a couple of good saves, one was on 8 when I hit hybrid off the tee into the semi-rough, I had 4-iron, tried to run it up, came up short, had to chip it with a sand wedge which went 8 feet by and I made a right to left downhill for par so that was huge.
Then No. 9 I hit 4-iron into the green side bunker, played a good bunker shot to about 6, 7 feet past the hole and made another downhill putt for par there. I think the rest were mostly pretty solid pars, hit a lot of greens.
I had some opportunities, and I really wasn't in too much trouble the last few holes.

Q. No. 11?
BERNHARD LANGER: No. 11 I tried to hook my driver, which I overcooked it a little bit, hooked it too much, hit the trees left, came back out on to the fairway and laid up with a hybrid just past that one tree on the right, had about a 70-yard shot which was pretty good, hit about 8 feet past the hole but missed the putt.

Q. Bernhard, congratulations. Golfers can't play defense but could you elaborate on how big that putt at the first hole was? Freddie followed it with his birdie but you really kept it from being worse than it was there on the first.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, it was huge. It was, for me, a very big boost to make that putt, because I was a little bit nervous at first, and especially my second shot was actually a very good shot but it hit one of these knobs and took off. So if I had made bogey there that would have been a real downer, mentally, so I was very pleased that my putting stroke held up and I made that putt and moved on.

Q. What did you hit into the green?

Q. You didn't have a 3-putt this week and you talked earlier in the week that you can't attack the pins so a lot of these putts you had for birdie are 30, 35 feet over ledges?

Q. How did you manage your speed on those ledges? Seemed like it was ideal all week.
BERNHARD LANGER: The speed is the key, you mentioned it. You need good speed especially on difficult greens and the speed then determines the line of the putt. There were a lot of putts where I had to play 10-foot breaks or 12-feet breaks or something like that and if you misjudge the speed over the ridges if you leave it short it goes way off and if you hit it too hard it's going the other way so it's easy to miss a putt by 8 or 10 feet.
But I didn't have too many of those. I had to make a few knee-knockers, or whatever you call them, from 6 to 10-feet but I managed most of them.

Q. Your son caddied for you, any good exchanges with him during the round? Did he say anything that was helpful or humorous?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, not too much humorous but he encouraged me here and there and he just said whatever, great putt or great up and down or good shot. And yesterday on 18 I usually -- because he doesn't caddie for me on a full-time basis so it wouldn't be fair for me to ask him "Do you think it's a 6-or 7-iron?" I play in meters and he plays in yards, totally different, as well, and he doesn't caddie for me enough to know how far I hit the ball exactly. But yesterday on 18 I told him write down to the front edge the yard average over the ridge and then to the hole so there were three different yardages, and I was talking out loud to him saying well, 6-iron is really the club to the hole but if I miss it slightly I'm going to be through the green left or in the rough or somewhere and 7 would be the safer club to just play short and have a 2-putt from 10 yards.
He just said "Well I think 6 is perfect." And I really wanted to birdie the hole because I didn't want to go into today being behind, I wanted to get off yesterday's round even losing ground to Fred but on a positive note by birdieing the last hole. So I hit a 6-iron, hit a good shot to 12 feet and made a putt for birdie and that gave me a boost and a bit of confidence that I can play out there with the best and under any circumstances.

Q. Bernhard, you've played in 10 Ryder Cups. We consider you an expert on the Ryder Cup. How about Fred Couples at 50 in the U.S. Ryder Cup team?
BERNHARD LANGER: Whether he should be picked?

Q. Yes.
BERNHARD LANGER: I'm with ya. I think Freddie has a very good chance to be picked for The Ryder Cup. If I was the American captain he would definitely be on my short list, on the list that Corey should consider, because when you look at Freddie, how well he's played the last year or two, his putting has gotten that much better and that was always the part that was questionable here and there. But his putting is very solid. He doesn't miss a lot of putts. He's certainly one of the best ball strikers in America, no matter who you put him up against. He hits the ball very far, hits it very controlled. He can shape it left to right and right to left, and he's a seasoned competitor. He's not scared of pressure. He's been in all these situations before so I think Freddie would be a definite asset to the American Ryder Cup.

Q. How old is your son and does it make it special to have him on the bag for you this week?
BERNHARD LANGER: He's 20 years old and it definitely makes it more special. I love my other caddie, too, Terry, my professional caddy, who caddied for me last week but it doesn't happen very often that Stefan can come out. And he worked for me a few weeks last year and we won three tournaments and he's worked for me a couple of weeks this year and I'm thrilled that he was on the bag and we could spend time together on the course as well as off the golf course.

Q. What were your thoughts on the second hole? When Fred hit it in the water?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, did we go through that already? Maybe it was outside, I forgot.
Well, I didn't expect him to make a mess of that hole because he was back there with, I don't know, 60-70-yard shot, which isn't easy when you have a tight lie on the fairway. You only have to miss it a little bit heavy and you're short or a little thin and you go over the green and it was one of those tough shots, he only had 3 on 5 yards to land the ball because there was water. And then one of these knobs and then you had to carry the knob and you only had 5 yards to the pin so it was not an easy shot.
I guess he hit it heavy and dumped it in the water. The next was too strong into the back rough and that was not an easy up and down so he made 8 and I could have made 3 but made 4 and it was a big swing.
But even, you know, going into the third hole now with a 3-shot lead, that means nothing when you have 16 holes to go.
There is so much golf left and every hole out there can bite you and every hole could be a two-shot swing, guy makes birdie and the other makes bogey and it's gone.

Q. Bernhard, can you talk about the experience of Sahalee itself and the fans. And maybe what kind of feedback the players got from these four days?
BERNHARD LANGER: Oh, I think the players loved the golf course. It's been in fantastic condition, too. I just talked to the greenskeeper out on the 18th and I told him I've never seen poa annua greens this good and I asked him what the secret was but he wouldn't tell me. I played a lot of poa annua greens whether it's Pebble, San Diego, west coast, and Europe, and they usually get bumpy, especially in the afternoon when the grass grows. The ball starts hopping around and it's difficult to putt on greens like that.
Here they were true all day long from morning till night and it was phenomenal how the condition of the golf course was.
The players loved it, I loved it. The crowds were fantastic, too. The atmosphere out there was just like any major on the Regular TOUR whether it's the Masters, U.S. Open or any other. You heard some cheers that reminded me of the best times at Augusta on the back nine. It was just really fun.

Q. Bernhard, congratulations. You won the Senior British Open last week having never won the British Open which was surprising that you never did and it's surprising that you never won the U.S. Open because you seem the perfect player for that, so how special is it to win the U.S. Senior Open?
BERNHARD LANGER: Hasn't sunk in yet. I think it's quite amazing to win back-to-back majors because it does take a lot out of you when you're in the lead. I was leading the British Senior Open last week from the beginning to the end and never relinquished the lead and this week was similar, I wasn't in the lead after Round 1 but in the lead after Round 2 and stuck in there to the very end. It's very draining and you live on adrenaline pretty much. To have won these two majors back-to-back, that's something that doesn't happen very often, if ever. And I said yesterday in an interview, or the day before, I have done similar feats, not majors, but I won the Masters in '85 and then I went on to win Hilton Head the very next week. We won The Ryder Cup somewhere over here in America and then went back to win the European Open the very next week. Some things that most players can't do, they lose focus, they're tired, or whatever it is, I don't know what it is, but it's difficult to win back-to-back big tournaments and I've been blessed enough to do it on several occasions.

Q. Bernhard, do you think you're on any kind of list of Monty's right now given how well you're playing?
BERNHARD LANGER: I doubt it. I think the European team is very, very strong. They have a lot of great, young talent and he might be looking at it but I seriously doubt that he's going to consider me.

Q. Bernhard, were you able to hear any of your 12 German fans cheer for you today?
BERNHARD LANGER: I heard a few. There was some wundebar and (in German) "keep goin'" that kind of stuff, so very few out there, 99.9% were on Freddie's side, though.

Q. Bernhard, you've won all over the world, all kinds of situations, but today's challenge, rising to the occasion, when frankly everyone -- like you said 99.9 weren't rooting for you. Is it a kick to prove yourself one more time?
BERNHARD LANGER: Definitely, it feels that much more special when you do that, because it felt like a Ryder Cup atmosphere. There was definitely them against me and for Freddie, you could feel that and that's not the case in a normal golf tournament, normally the people when you hit a bad shot they keep quiet and when you hit it good they applaud for everyone. And it was a bit like that today, and you can go out there and interview them, they'll tell ya that they wanted Freddie to win. If I play my hometown they want me to win, it's quite normal and I knew I was going to be up against that but when you pull through that and you win in difficult circumstances it just means that much more.

Q. Take us through the whole week of your wake-up times, because earlier in the week you were saying it was 2:00 and 3:00. What was it today? Give us some progression.
BERNHARD LANGER: I got in Monday afternoon, I think I went to bed about 8:30 Monday night just tired, that's eight hours further, whatever that is, 4 a.m. so I already missed most of my sleep.
I was up three or four times. I probably was up at 1 a.m. but I forced myself to just go back to bed and close my eyes and try and get another hour or two and eventually I think I got up at 4:30 out of bed. That was the first time -- and I played a practice round at 7 a.m. or something, which I don't do very much.
The very next day it was similar, I went to bed early about 9:00, 9:30, got up at 5:00 again and played another practice round at 7:30 or something like that.
Then I tried to force myself to stay up until about 10:00 or so, 10:30, just so I'd be totally exhausted and hopefully I would sleep in longer, which I did. I think my -- I got out of bed around 6:00 or so the next day but then I had to hang around until 1:00 when I teed off and that was the difficult day. I figured once I get through that difficult day -- you know, my tee time was 1 p.m. which was 9 p.m. my body clock and I was playing 9 through 2 a.m. on my body clock and that's not the time you want to play golf. It's not when you really focus, it's not when you're alert and you have energy and all that. I was yawning out there the last few hours, it was tough to get through that but I managed, what, 1-under or something and I knew after that day I would be okay for the rest of the week.
From that point on I slept pretty good and I'm over the jet lag now, now we're heading back east.
PETE KOWALSKI: Congratulations, champion, we appreciate your time. Well played.

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