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An Interview with Bernhard Langer - Day 2 - Afternoon


September 18, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Bernhard Langer, ladies and gentlemen. Bernhard, some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q&A.

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, first of all, I'm again very happy and very proud of my team. They played tremendously well. They played awesome. All of them, really. There's nobody that really stands out, but I do want to mention two guys that won the foursome match this morning, Casey and Howell. Many of you probably thought I'm sacrificing a point when I sent them out, but I really -- I really deep down felt that they would be the surprise of the morning. And obviously, I'm very pleased that it happened, especially how it happened. To win the last two holes and gain a huge point for us that gave us the momentum swing that we were hoping for after a fairly dull morning for us, was huge.

It changed everything. On top of that, I felt my foursome pairings were very, very strong. I had a lot of faith in those eight guys. They did very well yesterday, and I figured they would do it just as good today and they came through, as well.

So we are obviously extremely happy where we are at the moment, but we still have another tough day to go and need 3 1/2 more points.

Q. When you came in yesterday, you said you felt a little exhausted. How has it gone today? And second, what do you expect from your players tomorrow?

BERNHARD LANGER: I actually feel fairly good. I'm obviously tired, but I think the adrenaline kicked in hugely. And I'm living off that, but that's fine. I don't need to play tomorrow. I just need to run around or sit around and watch.

What was the second part of the question, sorry?

JULIUS MASON: What are you expecting from your team tomorrow.

BERNHARD LANGER: I expect from my team to be totally focused, to go out there and to play the way they have been playing all week and I think they are going to win about five or six points tomorrow and that would be fantastic.

Q. Paul McGinley said that the guys have benefitted having you on their shoulder out there in terms of course management advice.

How do you draw the line between helping a player and perhaps distracting a player out there?

BERNHARD LANGER: That's a very fine line. I talked to them about it before we started the matches. I talked to them in the team room, and told them what I think is the best and they all agreed and they like the idea of me being out there and every once in awhile telling them, you know, where the best place is to place the ball on a certain green, to have an easier putt or to have an easier opportunity to get it up-and-down or make a birdie.

Because these greens are so severe, no matter how many times you play, I mean, you can still overlook things. The course got -- the greens got much firmer and faster.

So it's very, very important that you hit the right club.

Give you an example today on No. 13 when, who was it, McGinley, I believe or Harrington played short of the flag, he left himself a very long putt up the hill. But at least we had a putt. And Tiger hit what looked a fairly decent shot but it went long and you can't go long there. And he plugged his ball in the back bunker. It's a tremendously tough shot if you have a good lie and if you have a plugged lie, you have no chance, and we won the hole.

And there's a lot of that going on on that golf course. You cannot hit it in certain places. You can't get it up-and-down.

Q. At the start of the week, would you have possibly imagined going into Sunday needing only to win three matches to retain the Cup?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, I really couldn't have. I knew I had a very strong team with a lot of depth, but, you know, also I knew how tough the American team is, and all of the great players on their side so I never in my wildest dreams would have thought we have a six point lead.

Q. Do you bring up Brookline tonight?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, I'm not going to go that way. I don't think I need to. I figured that Hal would front-load, which he did and I tried to counteract that by putting my guys where I felt was best for the team and I think the matchup is very good. I like what I see on paper, but that doesn't mean a whole lot in the end. It's the guys out there swinging the club and making the putts that counts.

Q. Follow-up on what Hal did with his lineup, you knew he was going to front load but when you look and see Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love is there part of you that fears something could happen tomorrow with those three guys starting the day for the Americans?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, I'm not scared at all. I'm actually pretty sure and convinced that out of the first three matches, I'd be very surprised if we don't get two points. (Laughter.)

We'll talk tomorrow. (Laughter.)

Q. Yesterday obviously your veterans went out and made a very, very strong statement. You had Luke out there as the only rookie. Today you have two rookies and they are the ones that really turned things around this morning. What does that say about the depth of the European squad?

BERNHARD LANGER: It says exactly what I've been saying all along; that we have more depth on our team than we probably ever had before. As I said earlier, we might not quite have the superstars who won all of the majors in the 80s and whatever, early 90s, but we have great players. We have far more depth. You know, I could have brought 18 players over here or 20 and we would have looked pretty good I think, and that just shows how strong the European Tour has become over the last 15, 20 years.

Q. If you win the Ryder Cup after four or five matches, there will be a lot of meaningless matches on the course. Would you consider giving the Americans halves to make the score look a little bit better?

BERNHARD LANGER: No, because Hal and I in the Captain's Agreement decided that this is the wrong way to go about things. We both felt that every match should be played to have a result to the conclusion of every single match. Because otherwise, it becomes a farce.

You look at Ryder Cup records and if you halve all of these matches, it doesn't reflect the true picture. Plus, we have a lot of people here watching golf. They paid to see these great players play. It wouldn't be right to call off the game two hours before or something like that.

Q. A few minutes ago Sergio said that basically at this point in this Ryder Cup, attitude has been everything for the European Team. Do you agree, and how have you fostered the team unity that's being displayed?

BERNHARD LANGER: Obviously attitude is very important. Confidence is very important. Believing in yourself is very important. We've done that all week long. I've been telling the whole week how great they are, how good they are and how well they have played. I told them that there's nothing to be scared of, they are every bit as good, even though on paper they might not be but paper you can burn up in a second; it means nothing.

What means out there is how much heart do they have and how well can they play. The American team is under far more pressure than we are. They are playing at home, they are supposedly the favorites, they are under tremendous pressure.

We come here as defending champions. We have the Cup with us and we want to take it back home. So far, so good.

Q. You said you don't have the stars that you had in the 80s and talked so much about this as a team, it's a young team, but do you see in this group of individuals the potential to do individually what you and Olazabal and Faldo did in the majors, is this just a very good team?

BERNHARD LANGER: It could well happen. It doesn't happen very often that you have those five or six players that we had in Europe, you know, we're all the same age, Faldo, Seve, Woosnam, Lyle, myself, that doesn't happen very often that you have five very, very good players who are all the same age.

But I have, as you say, a very young team out there, and I would be very surprised if some of them would not go on to win majors in the future.

It's very difficult to predict who wins majors because you have so many great players around the world. You have to play well on that given week, or weekend.

But I'm convinced some of them will do great from here on in and some of them will be on many Ryder Cups and be a very formidable team in the future.

Q. Colin said he was told before the matches that he probably would not play all five matches. Why do you think that before the tournament that he would not do that?

BERNHARD LANGER: I just didn't want to tire my guys out. I knew I'm going to play some of them five rounds but not -- I didn't want to play all of them. I need some fresh guys tomorrow and I felt it was probably best for Colin to sit out this afternoon and rest a little bit and be fresh again tomorrow and give me all that he has tomorrow.

Q. The European Team, including some of your young players, know the American tour and American courses pretty well, better than the Americans probably know the European courses; has that played any role this week or how that's that affected?

BERNHARD LANGER: It doesn't matter whether the Americans know the European courses because we are not playing over there. But it does help, I think, that you have some experience over here, for someone like Luke Donald and Westwood and a bunch of other guys who have played many, many times over here, they are familiar with Tiger Woods, with Mickelson, with any of them. They have beaten them many times. They are familiar with the golf courses and all of that kind of stuff. It's nothing new. It's not a shock. They don't come and say, "Oh, my, look at these fast greens and look at who I'm up against." They do that week after week. That does help.

Q. You've spent the last couple of years evaluating potential for your team, and can you share anything that you saw in Casey and Howell over the last couple of years that gave you that special feeling and prompted you to pair them together?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I've only been captain for one year, but that's still plenty of time.

Those two guys just had a very good last year. They played very, very well. They played their way on to the team. I didn't have to pick them. And obviously, I've watched them all along, and Howell is just a tremendously solid player, just hits it down the middle most of the time, hits a lot of fairways and greens and makes a lot of birdies.

And Paul Casey is very, very strong. When he's on, he can go very, very low, very deep. I just felt that they were a great match-up, they were a great pairing together.

Q. One of the real themes among the Americans this year, this match has been the tension and not being able to play loose and being tight. I wondered what your philosophy or what you've done this week, how you feel the best way to counteract pressure is in the Ryder Cup as captain, what have you done for your players in that regard?

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, I think what helps is just to have a lot of fun, as much fun as you can in the team room and before and after. I think we did all of that. We continue to do that.

But, you know, it's obviously a lot of pressure on the home team. They didn't win the last time around and they want that Cup back real badly. That's the one danger I see tomorrow; that now they are under less pressure tomorrow because they are so far behind, nobody expects them to win anymore; that they might come out blazing tomorrow. That's what we have to look for, and we still have to play some great golf tomorrow.

Q. Padraig said that on all of the par 3s on this course, you've told them where to hit it, what club to use, what part of the green to hit it on, do you feel like that you have maybe --

BERNHARD LANGER: Why is he giving all of my secrets away? (Laughter.)

Q. Do you feel like you have maybe done your homework and prepared your guys more so than what Hal has?

BERNHARD LANGER: I don't know. I can't talk for Hal. I don't want to compare myself with Hal. I have a lot of respect for him. I think he's doing a great job.

All I'm worried about is my team and my job. I just felt that that was the best for the team, for me to be there and to help them, to tell them what clubs the other guys hit, where to hit it and that kind of stuff. I think it's worked very well the last few days.

Q. The job isn't done yet, but can you describe what the captaincy has given to you and are you sure that you won't put your hat again in the ring?

BERNHARD LANGER: The captaincy has given me a lot of things. It's been an awesome week just to, you know, have the helm of the leadership of these 12 guys to spend a lot of time with my co-captains, which I'm very proud of. They have done an awesome job themselves. They have been wonderful and given me not just great support but a lot of insight, as well.

Just everybody involved on our whole team, even behind the scenes, you know, the guys operating and doing all of the stuff that you never hear about, they have done tremendously well.

So, I've learned a lot of things. It's great. I wouldn't have want to missed it.

Second part of the question, for me to go as captain again is very, very unlikely, because I think we have a lot of guys waiting to get the job, as well, to get the nod to go ahead, and it wouldn't be fair for me to, you know, do this again, and somebody else might miss out. So that's my thinking right now.

JULIUS MASON: Captain Langer, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.

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