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An Interview with Bernhard langer


September 17, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Captain Bernhard Langer, ladies and gentlemen.

Some opening comments and then we'll go to Q&A, please.

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, as you know it's been an awesome day for the European Team. To beat the top pairing, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and get two points out of those first two matches that's awesome. That's exactly what I wanted to happen and what I was hoping for. And to have probably the biggest lead that we've ever had after the first day is just incredible and awesome and fantastic. I'm very proud of my guys.

As I told you, they practiced well. We have a fantastic spirit in our team. We have 12 great guys and, obviously, even knowing all that, I know we're playing against the 12 greatest players they have over here, and I still didn't think we would have this good of a start. So I'm thrilled and excited.

JULIUS MASON: We apologize about not having the pairings at this particular time but because of the time constraints that you're under and the team is under, we're going to try to get as much done as we can.

Q. Do you consider we might be looking at the best European Team of all time here?

BERNHARD LANGER: That's a very difficult one to answer, because we've had tremendous teams in the past. I'm not sure that is the case, but I think we have more depth than we ever had, and I've mentioned that early in the week, I think in the 80s and 90s, we've had tremendous strength in the top five or seven, and then we dropped a little bit towards the end. Right now I think we have very good strengths all the way through, and depth.

Q. Without going into the pairings, is there anything about a five-point advantage that allows you to do things differently tomorrow than you would do if, say, things were square?

BERNHARD LANGER: I'm doing things very similar that I had planned anyways, so I'm pretty much going with what I had in mind, but, obviously, it feels a little bit better to have a five-point lead than being behind but the strategy hasn't changed, no.

Q. In 1981, your first Ryder Cup, it was pretty close after the first day and then your team lost seven out of eight points and then lost eight more points in the singles.

BERNHARD LANGER: I don't want to go there. (Laughter.)

Q. My question is, first of all, can you talk about that experience after the second day and how the Americans must be feeling after today? And then secondly, is this finally payback for that?

BERNHARD LANGER: To tell you the truth, I can't remember that. And that's typical like me. When I have a, whatever, disappointments, I forget them. I block them out. I don't live in the past. I live in the present and in the future. But I honestly can't remember. I don't even remember we were close after the first day and then I just know we lost pretty badly. We were up against a very, very, very strong team. That's all I remember from the '81 matches.

What was the second part of the question, please?

Q. If it was payback.

BERNHARD LANGER: No, we're not here to pay back, no. We're here to win 14 1/2 points and take the Cup back to Europe on Monday morning.

Q. You talked a little bit about how much depth you have and you didn't play three players today, just wondering if you have any concerns about them being a little rusty or anything like that going into tomorrow or the rest of the weekend and what your plans are that way?

BERNHARD LANGER: I don't think they are rusty. As I said a minute ago, they practiced very well, all of them, the three who didn't play today, I wanted them to experience the atmosphere, I wanted them to watch the guys who were in action to see how the golf course is playing. I also wanted them to play a few holes themselves. They did all of that. I think they have had a great day of getting a little bit of experience and we'll see how they do tomorrow.

Q. Could you calculate or estimate or put into words the psychological damage you have inflicted on the United States Team by beating Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson twice today, just describe that, please.

BERNHARD LANGER: It's difficult to describe, but I'm sure they are not very happy, I know that. They know they have to come up with a lot more than they came up with today to win this Cup, and I know they are going to try everything possible, and I know they still have a very good chance of doing it.

You know, momentum swings have happened before. That's one thing I'm going to tell my guys. Yes, we are up, but we are nowhere near close to where we want to be. There's a long way to go. There's no reason to celebrate yet.

Q. Similar question, Bernhard. Monty said this morning after their win that it was worth more than one point. What was beating them twice worth?

BERNHARD LANGER: It was probably. It's hard to put into points. What we get for the two wins is two points, but it's probably worth three or four.

You know, it was huge psychologically, a huge blow to the Americans and a huge help for the Europeans. I'm just thrilled it turned out that way for us.

Q. There was so much talk about the Dream Team, can you talk about your top pairing, Monty and Paddy, they have turned into a Dream Team for you, and how well they mesh.

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, obviously they have been extremely strong. They went out as one of my strongest pairings, but I have other pairings who did just as well, Darren Clarke did fantastic, so did Lee Westwood and, you know, pretty much everybody else, too. I'm mentioning a few, but I know there's other players, Garcia did super. I'm very proud of Luke Donald, the way he's played and handled himself today. And I could say the same thing, McGinley had a wonderful morning, played very good.

There's hardly anybody I'm not proud of because they have all done well. Even the match that lost this afternoon, they played every bit as good as their opponents. They just had a couple of bad breaks, but that's golf, and especially on this golf course. You know, you're inches off from 20 feet, if you're a couple inches short, the ball spins back 30, 40 feet. If you're a couple inches long, it might release and stuff like that happens all day long.

Q. How was your first day as a captain, the feelings, was it the way you expected it to be?

BERNHARD LANGER: I'm exhausted just watching. I didn't hit one shot and I'm exhausted. It was a wonderful day. I live on adrenaline right now. It's just been awesome to talk to the guys, to run around and give them a bit of advice here and there. Just everybody was so encouraging and so up to it, they make my job very easy.

Q. Has it occurred to you that you could have 14 1/2 points by tomorrow evening? (Laughter.)

BERNHARD LANGER: It has not, but that's a good thought. Thanks for mentioning that. (Laughter.)

I wouldn't mind that at all. It would make Sunday a lot easier.

Q. I just wondered if you made any late changes for the foursomes this afternoon, or was that how you planned it at the start of the day?

BERNHARD LANGER: The foursomes, no, that's pretty much the way I had it. I thought I had tremendous foursomes pairings. I think the guys I sent out, I thought they were very, very strong, I really did. I thought I had stronger foursomes than four-balls. I know it didn't quite turn out that way, but almost. I wasn't going to change anything there, no.

Q. In all your days as a Ryder Cup player, did you identify something you needed from a captain that maybe for one reason or another wasn't present in other campaigns and was there anything in particular that you brought to the job, any particular aspect of preparing the team that might not have been in your mind quite right in the past?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, there were a few things, obviously. It doesn't happen that 12 guys like everybody's style and there were different styles. I've been under five of them. I still thought everybody did great and they did, you know, the style they, whatever, that fits their personality.

I'm trying to lead by serving my guys by encouraging them, by communicating with them, and letting them know that every single one of them is as important to me as anybody else. There's no stars and there's no rookies as such. They are 12 fantastic players and I'm here to serve them and to lead them and guide them in any way possible.

Q. From the beginning, the crowd seemed very subdued. Have you ever heard 40,000 people be that quiet?

BERNHARD LANGER: They were not subdued when we saw them tee off. They got more and more quiet as there were blue numbers going and that's been the history of the Ryder Cup. The more one team goes up, the quieter the opposite crowd gets, and that's normal. If they don't have a lot to cheer for, why should they cheer? That's only human.

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

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