Team Europe > News

An Interview with Bernhard Langer

September 16, 2004

JULIUS MASON: European Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer, ladies and gentlemen.

Bernhard, what's going on?

BERNHARD LANGER: Not much. Been a busy morning. Obviously we just handed in our -- my team, and it looks like we are going to have some very exciting matches here tomorrow morning.

JULIUS MASON: We'll go to Q&A, as you see on the pairing sheet in front of you, the information is embargoed till the opening ceremonies, till it's announced at the opening ceremonies. Thank you all for complying.

Q. Hal Sutton said he wanted his team to make a very fast start and he just picked a pair that he thinks could give it to them, it looks as if you might have felt the same way, wanting a fast start and picking a pair that could give it to you.

BERNHARD LANGER: Of course. I don't think I want to get into a situation where I'm three or four points behind. I want to get out in the lead if possible, and I think I've sent out some very strong pairings, and obviously, it's the same on the other side. They have 12 very strong players and they are going to have strong pairings no matter who they send out together.

Q. You sort of talk about that first pairing, looks like we are going to get this thing off to a pretty rock and rolling start with arguably, well, it's your highest ranked player in the World Ranking with a guy who has been through this more than anybody else versus Phil and Tiger?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I agree, Phil and Tiger are obviously some of the crowds favorites, no matter where they play. I think I have two very good opponents for them to match up. So it should be a thrilling match and it will be exciting. It will come down to who makes a few putts here and there as it usually does. I think it's a wonderful pairing for the spectators and it's a great way to start off the 35th Ryder Cup Matches.

Q. How much did you try to anticipate what Hal was going to do with his pairings, or were you just putting your guys out the way you wanted them? Or were you thinking and trying to anticipate what Hal would be doing?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I had a bit of an idea of what Hal is trying to do and I was right what he's doing. But that really doesn't change my theory too much, either. I had to put out what I believe are the strongest players, even though my 12 guys are all very solid, they are all playing good, so it's difficult to leave anybody out. But I had to put eight guys out there that I felt would get us off to a good start and it looks great on paper to me.

Q. As these teams begin to formulate in your mind in the last day or two, is there anything, any late change be it this morning or last night that you switched at the last minute?

BERNHARD LANGER: Not too much, really. Obviously I was watching all the guys practice and play. They have all impressed me. There might have been one change and that is McGinley with Donald, Luke Donald, because McGinley has been playing great, he's been playing awesome over the last two months coming into this event and he's still playing great. So I want to give him a chance tomorrow and see how him and Luke will do, and then we'll take it from there.

Q. We talked to Padraig yesterday, he seemed reluctant to take -- accept that he's the starring player on this team being high in the World Ranking, but you must see him as a pretty key player on this team, putting him in a match right off the bat.

BERNHARD LANGER: I would like to reiterate every player on my team is key. This is a team event. There are not two or three individuals that are going to win the Cup for us, that's not going to happen. I think that's how every player sees it too. I don't think I have any player on the team that thinks he's a superstar and the others are just kind of a few guys hacking it along with them. No, it's not that way at all. They are all here for the team and it's going to be a team effort.

Q. You said that you had a pretty good idea what Hal would do with his pairings, so did you anticipate he was going to put Phil and Tiger together?

BERNHARD LANGER: I actually heard rumors somewhere down the road that this might happen. I don't know where it came from and it doesn't matter to me, and it seemed like a reasonable idea. Why not? You know, you've got two great players who make a lot of birdies usually. It's a wonderful pairing. I don't see anything wrong with Hal's thinking. I expected something like that. It's four-balls, you need guys out who make birdies, you don't need the guys who make 18 pars in a row because they are not going to win the match.

Q. Hal's indicated that he was planning to play everybody tomorrow at some point. I don't know that you've been asked that or what your thoughts are on that, do you have that formulated or will you just decide in the afternoon?

BERNHARD LANGER: I will decide every match as the matches progress and every pairing I have obviously preconceived ideas, but things can change as I watch the players perform and see who is doing well and who is not.

Also, obviously, I'd like to play everyone before Sunday, but again, it all depends how things are going. I'll just take it step by step. I'm not trying to get ahead of myself.

Q. When did you tell those who are playing tomorrow that they are playing and with whom, and what kind of reaction, were there any reactions in particular that stand out to you?

BERNHARD LANGER: No. I told some of the guys a little sooner because I was set on some of them. I told some other guys a little later because I wasn't totally convinced that that's the best thing to do. And I waited until a few hours ago.

They are all thrilled, they are all ready. They have been here for three days preparing and they have done everything they can and they all want to play, obviously. The hard part was not the guys to tell to play; it was the four guys that they are not playing.

Q. Can you see any drawbacks to a Phil and Tiger pairing? Are there any potential pitfalls there or ways that could hurt?

BERNHARD LANGER: I don't know. I don't know how friendly they are with each other, how well they get along with each other. You know, even if they are not, they have just got to play their own ball I guess and make as many birdies as possible.

I don't really see too much of a drawback. But then at the same time I don't know Phil and Tiger was well as I know my team.

Q. Your team has made quite an impression this week signing autographs and taking pictures with all of the fans, how much of a conscious decision was that and how much do you anticipate that might settle down the American fans this weekend?

BERNHARD LANGER: I think my team has been fantastic. They have taken lots of time to spend with the spectators. They have even gone out of their way to be with them, take pictures, sign autographs, and interact with them. I think that the people are realizing that we are 12 good guys. Just because we come from across the ocean and from a different country doesn't mean we are aliens or terrible or whatever. (Laughter.)

I think that point came across well. The people loved it, and that's what the game of golf is all about in these matches. Obviously we are here to win the Cup but at the same time we are also here to behave like gentlemen and entertain and interact with the people because without the people, there wouldn't be a golf tournament.

Q. Did you encounter any particular disappointment from any of the four who weren't picked?

BERNHARD LANGER: Not really. They all understand. They know their time will come. I told them to continue to prepare. They will see some action. And they all understand it's a team effort; we are not here to please any egos, and they are totally behind the decision and they agree that this is some very strong pairings.

Q. Any particular pecking order in mind among the four as to who might step in if you want to make a change?

BERNHARD LANGER: I'm not going to make a change. I mean, this is set in stone.

Q. Just wondered if you have any sort of pecking order in mind as to who you might bring in for the afternoon matches, if any one of the eight in the morning don't perform?

BERNHARD LANGER: I have some very clear ideas of who I'm going to bring in in the afternoon, yes, but I'm going to watch the guys play in the morning and see how it's going and I will let you know who is playing in the afternoon when the time is right.

Q. Your team obviously is a little less familiar with this course than the American team. After three days of practice, do you feel you know this course as well as you need to know it and as well as the Americans might know it?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I'm not sure the Americans know it any more. They have been here what four days, 3 1/2 days. Some of them didn't play much yesterday. So I don't think they have played it a whole lot more -- sorry, I shouldn't have said that. (Laughter.)

I think all of our guys have had two or three days to have a good look at it, too. They have experienced caddies. They spent a lot of time on the greens. They should know, you know, how to play every hole. Obviously wind conditions and other things will change it, change the golf course. And, you know, on a golf course like this, you might still learn the odd thing here and there, maybe not off the tee but certainly around the greens as you might play the 20th time and you realize, boy, there's a putt that I would not have thought it's going to break this much or it's this fast or it's this slow or whatever.

It's a bit like Augusta. I've played Augusta hundreds of times and I'm not learning a lot about it anymore, but every once in awhile there's still a small detail that I've overlooked. I think they are ready. The answer is, they had time, ample time to prepare, they have good caddies, experienced guys, and I believe they are ready.

Q. Would a win by Colin and Padraig over Tiger and Phil provide any more of an emotional boost than any wins in any of the other three matches?

BERNHARD LANGER: I'm not sure. A win would be fantastic. Any win is fantastic. If you make some points, it's great and it will give a boost, a morale boost to the other players. Obviously, playing Tiger and Phil, it might be a little bit more if we can get a win out of that, it would really pump us up.

Q. Meticulous has been the description most of your players have used to describe your style. I was wondering, in going over these picks, was there a formula of statistics and so forth that you looked at to put this together or was a lot of it just what was in your head and your heart?

BERNHARD LANGER: A combination of that. Obviously, I looked at past performances and some of these guys that have played together in the past and they like each other. They like playing with each other. They play the same style of golf or whatever. Some others just have come about as I talked to the players and try to, you know, put myself in their heads and see where they are coming from, what they are thinking and I know that these eight guys will get along great, there is no doubt in my mind.

And yes, I have taken lots of time and effort to search out every possibility to make sure I'm not, you know, putting anyone together who might not gel. I've gone through great lengths to find out and I think I've got some strong pairings out here.

Q. How much did the practice rounds help you as far as informing your decision on who you would pair together and if so, if the practice rounds did help you, can you just speak to that as far as which players you might have seen something in during the practice rounds that helped your decision?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, the main thing, I think the practice rounds will just show you, they played for some money, so they weren't just out there practicing, they were trying to win. That always helps, when you go through your routine and you actually play like you would in a tournament. Obviously it shows who hits fairways, who hits greens, who can make the putts.

The great news is they all did very well. As I said earlier, there was really nobody on the team that I could say, "Boy, he really struggles, I'm not sure I should put him out there the next couple of days."

I was very impressed with the way they have been hitting the ball and just by watching, I know why I'm not on the team. I wouldn't have been on the team as a player because these guys are better than I am right now.

Q. Is there a big winner as far as the money goes?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, there were a few hundred changed pockets, but that's okay. They can afford it. (Laughter.)

Q. I don't know if you ever answered whether the idea to interact with fans was your idea or the team's idea?

BERNHARD LANGER: You really want to know, don't you.

Q. Yes.

BERNHARD LANGER: I'm not sure I'm going to tell you.

It was my idea, yes, but the players thought it was great. They obviously made a great effort to do it but it came from me, yes.

Q. Clark and Jimenez, can you talk about the chemistry and why you decided on those two together?

BERNHARD LANGER: They both like wine. They both smoke cigars. Shall we go any further? (Laughter.)

I think Jimenez is one of the guys who is in top form. This guy has played so well lately it's unbelievable. He's a very underrated guy. He's very steady. And we know Clarke has more talent, tremendous distance, and when he gets hot, he's hot. He can also -- he can go hot and a little cold but he's also fairly consistent if you know what I mean. So I'm not taking a great risk by putting him out there I think.

The two of them, they like each other. They like playing together and interacting out there. I think they will do well.

Q. Just quickly, the speculation over the last 24 hours was that Paul Casey would play with Luke Donald, largely because they were a partnership in their amateur days. It has not worked out that way and can you explain why Paul McGinley has come in instead of Paul Casey?

BERNHARD LANGER: You shouldn't speculate. That's always a problem. (Laughing).

Obviously they practiced together and I had times when I thought that might be -- they might be ready to go out. But at the same time, they are both rookies and I saw Paul McGinley play these last couple of days and he really impressed me. So I felt it might be better to send Paul and Luke out at first and see how they are doing and then give Paul Casey a chance later as the matches progress. I want him to experience the atmosphere, I want him out there tomorrow, walk a little bit and see what's going on and then practice some more and he'll be ready, too.

Q. Bernhard, the pairing of Sergio and Lee, they have obviously played together in the past, can you just talk a little bit about that and maybe what makes them gel?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I think they did very well two years ago. They are both, you know, Sergio is extremely excitable and bounces and jumps and is just all over the place. And Lee is just about the opposite. He's very calm and nothing flusters him or whatever. So I think they are great, what do you say, opposite poles in a way. They help each other along. Lee sometimes needs someone to get him going a bit maybe, and Garcia needs someone to cool him down a bit or relax him, and I think they help each other in that sense. They played well in the past and they are in good form right now.

Q. Can you tell us the order in which you decided the pairings?

BERNHARD LANGER: I don't really -- I don't think it matters too much in what order I sent them out, but I felt Monty and Harrington are very strong pairings and they wanted to go out first, so I was comfortable doing that.

It really doesn't matter too much because they are all playing within 15, 30 minutes, they are all going to face tough opponents, and they have to play well. It doesn't matter if they go first, second, third or fourth.

Q. I was actually meaning more when you decided, which people did you decide on in what order, like did you decide on Monty and Harrington first?

BERNHARD LANGER: The whole thing happened the last four or five hours. Obviously, as it's been on my mind for weeks, I made a conscious effort not to put pairings down two weeks ago. I wanted to watch the guys, I wanted to talk to everyone. I needed to get some feedback and dig as deep as I could and then I would make up my mind. There was no point of having pairings two weeks ago. You know, it was two o'clock, today was the deadline and that's when I had to hand in the pairings, so I gave myself that much time.

Q. You have four rookies who are in essence cooling their heels tomorrow morning. Is the fact that they have not -- they have no experience playing in Ryder Cup play, was that a factor in maybe just letting them have a morning where they could get a feel for the atmosphere before actually going out and competing?

BERNHARD LANGER: Exactly. I wanted them to have another day of preparing and just to experience the whole atmosphere, walk off the first tee with somebody who is playing and just see what's going on. For those who would not be prepared for that kind of spectacle that they would experience it and then be ready the next day or the afternoon or whenever their time has come.

Q. If I could just follow-up, Luke is the one rookie that you did play. Did he really impress you this week?

BERNHARD LANGER: He's impressed me the last few months, not just this week. He's extremely steady and just has wonderful rhythm and tempo and controls his length of the shots very well which is key out on this course, the second shots. He hits a lot of fairways and I think he controls the irons a little better than most. That's important. He really doesn't have a weakness. He's good at everything, and I think this course is pretty much made for a guy like him.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Captain Langer, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

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