Toshiba Classic interview: Bernhard LangerMarch 14, 2013
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PHIL STAMBAUGH: We welcome Bernhard Langer to the interview room. Bernhard, a very special place for you here in Newport Beach, a former winner of the event, and you come in with three top 3 finishes, including a win in your last start at the ACE Group Classic. A couple thoughts about coming back and talk about your game.
BERNHARD LANGER: Thanks, Phil. Well, the game's been pretty good so far, very pleased. That's the best start I ever had to any season, I think. I was one shot out of the playoff in Hawaii and then finished again two shots behind the winner in Boca, in second place, and then won in Naples. So that's a pretty nice start. Just hoping to build on that and continue the good play.
The Toshiba Classic and Newport Country Club, this is a very nice spot, one of the best areas in the country, I would think. I love it here, just the weather is usually great and temperatures. And the golf course is a very unique golf course, old‑style as you all know. And the only thing we have to deal with is poa annua greens, but that's the same for everybody. They're usually very good in the morning and they get a little hard in the afternoon. But it's a great layout.
The tournament is in a wonderful place here where they get a lot of spectators and a lot of support from the community, and I think it's one of the best run and most successful tournaments we have on the Champions Tour in terms of raising money as well for charity and for a good cause.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you sort of catch us up on your three-week break. I know you did go skiing, I believe, in Steamboat Springs, right?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, after my win in Naples we went that Sunday even to Bobby Clampett's house in Naples there. He said come over, have dinner with us before you go home. So we had dinner and it got a little later. He said why don't you just stay, we've got three spare bedrooms, nobody's with us, they all checked out. So we spent the night and we started talking about, him saying, oh, I'm going to go skiing to Steamboat with my kids, He's got a timeshare place. He said, I've got a spare bedroom if you want to come. I said I usually don't ski in the middle of the season, I already had my ski trip over Christmas. But when I shared it with my 12-year-old, I said, This might be an opportunity for you and me just to go alone for three days and not have the rest of the family and stuff, just father-son. And he was really excited, so I said let's do it. I had three weeks off, I had time.
So we went to Steamboat, had a blast, just really enjoyed the skiing part, the father-son part, being with Bobby and his family. That was one part of it. A couple birthday parties and a few other things going on at home. A little workout, a couple charity events, a little bit of practice and here we go. Time flies, back on Tour.
Q. Since you've been away, the Tour has staked out a position opposing the anchoring ban. Obviously it's a subject you've been vocal about. I'm wondering how you feel about the Tour taking that stand. And also, did you during the comment period give any feedback to the USGA and R&A?
BERNHARD LANGER: I wasn't personally asked to give feedback to the USGA and R&A, but whenever I was asked in interviews and was talking to some other players and officials, I clearly voiced my opinion. I think the PGA TOUR came to the right conclusion for many areas, what you say, arguments, just point in that direction. There's really no real reason to ban the anchoring after this many years being out. You're going to hurt the game by banning it. You're going to drive people away from the game of golf because they're not going to enjoy the game if they. I'm talking about amateurs. This is not for me personal. If they take the putter away, I'll find a way to putt or I'll go retire, so this has nothing to do with me personally. I'm thinking for the better of the game, growing the game and what's good for amateurs.
That's the very same reason that the PGA of America is very much against it, too, because the owners of golf courses, because they can see that hundreds and thousands of people would leave the game because putting is a huge part of the game. And if you had certain ailments, you know, a bad back or if you're not a good putter and you're used to the long putter, it might help you a little bit in that regard, and you now take that away from them, they're going to leave the game. They're going to start up croquet or bowling or whatever. No, I'm serious.
I've talked to a lot of people. I'm a member at three different clubs in Florida where I live and we discuss it because it's a topic that has been out the last few months and a lot of them say, yeah, that would be a very bad thing to do. Some of them considering to probably give up the game if they're forced to give up the belly putter, the long putter. To me, that's the main reason not to do it. There's obviously a bunch of other reasons, and it's been around way too long. Even a year or two ago, Mike Davis from the USGA said long putter is no problem, we don't see a problem in the future with it. It was changed in 12 months. I can tell you what changed. Three major winners, that's a problem now. Well, it makes no sense. If you look at it if it was a real improvement to everybody, if it was easier or simpler or better, everybody would use it, and I'll give you an example. How many people are using a graphite shaft in a driver?
Q. 100 percent?
BERNHARD LANGER: 100 percent. How many are using the big headed driver? 100 percent. Why? Because it's an improvement. How many people use a hybrid? Almost 100 percent because it's easier to hit a hybrid than a 1-iron.
See, those are the things. Well, how many using a long putter? 10 percent, 6 percent, 15 percent, whatever it is. It's the minority. So why go there after having it out, making it legal for even 90 years or 80 years. There's a picture out that somebody used it in the 1920s or 1930s. So it makes no sense, I have no idea why they're going there. I hope they're not going through with it. Not for my own personal reasons, just for the better part of the game, to grow the game.
Q. When you anchor, have you tried just moving it a little bit away from your body and is that a big difference?
BERNHARD LANGER: I haven't tried it, to tell you the truth, but I would think it fits the purpose somewhat. I have not been messing with it because I'm not convinced it's going to go that way. So why spend hours of practice and energy doing stuff if it's never going to happen. And I still think there's a good chance they might not go through with it because of many arguments that point in the other direction.
Q. How long have you used the current putter that you're using?
BERNHARD LANGER: The current putter or style of putting?
Q. No, the current putter that you're used to right now, your gamer.
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't know. I've used a similar type of putter for 17 years now, 15 years, something like that.
Q. Are you looking at new putters still as we speak, looking for improvement with…
BERNHARD LANGER: I always look to improve, yeah. If I find anything that I think will improve my score, my game, I'll try it, and if it's better I'll put it into play.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, we're all that way. If I give you a new driver and you hit it 20 yards further and straighter, you would be stupid not to put it into play. If I'm going to find a putter that I can make one more putt or have better distance control or get a better roll, whatever, better alignment, then I'll put it into play because one stroke a day means four strokes a tournament, or three. That's a huge difference.
Q. Can you speak a bit about your relationship with Tom Pernice? It seems like you guys are a couple of the ironmen on Tour and obviously work out quite a bit and seem to play a lot together.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, lately we've been paired a lot together which is fun because I really like Tom. He's a great guy, like so many out here, just about everybody is a great guy. But he's a strong Christian like me, we have the same faith, we have the same values with family and we the game, we're hard workers, we work out, so there's a lot of similarities. We're the same age more or less and I really being around him. He's a true gentleman, always complimentary, never says a bad thing about somebody else, and I'm trying to be the same way.
Q. With Player of the Year last year, Tom Lehman said it easily could have been you. Has he ever told you that?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, we obviously…I congratulated him there on the 18th green when he won the Schwab Cup tournament and the Schwab Cup trophy as well. We talk at times. Actually, Tom was staying with me at the tournament in Boca Raton, so we had the whole week to discuss and talk and reminisce.
Yeah, he's probably mentioned something along the line, and I said, Well, it's very deserving that you won it. We both won two tournaments, but you won two bigger tournaments than I did. Yes, I was the more consistent, but in the end it's the tournaments, the majors that come double and the Schwab tournament comes double and that's where he made more of his points. So he deserved to win the Schwab Cup and he had a great year, so he deserved to win the Player of the Year. But sometimes it is a close race. He could have made the same case almost for Fred Couples. He had a very good year, he just played very little. Roger Chapman won two majors, didn't do a whole lot else, but winning two majors is pretty special. So there's lots of arguments. And it comes down to the players voting. That's why it means so much to us because the players vote and they usually don't pick the popular guy, they pick the guy who's had the best year in their eyes.
Q. Does Lehman drive you to get better?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't need Tom Lehman to make me drive better, but there's lots of other competition. But yes, I think competition is healthy, I totally agree with you in that regard. Whenever you have competition, it makes you work harder and strive for more and try and find that extra 1 or 2 percent in your game that you could possibly improve. I think it's very healthy and it's a good thing.
Q. How many wins around the world now, because I've seen so many different numbers?
BERNHARD LANGER: It's 88 I think right now, somewhere in that range.
Q. I know you keep track, don't you?
BERNHARD LANGER: More or less. I mean, they kept saying 85 for the last three years. I'm going well, I've won a few tournaments for the last three years, something doesn't add up here. I have to make the effort at some point to sit down or have my management do it and figure it out. But that's not all that important.
Q. 100, is that within range?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I think that's within range. I hope so. You never know. I might die tomorrow, we don't know. Nobody knows what the future holds and how long we have to live, so we'll just take one day at a time.
Q. Have you had a chance to get to Augusta?
BERNHARD LANGER: No. I've been there many times, but not this year.
Q. Do you plan to go before the tournament week?
BERNHARD LANGER: No. I'm going up Sunday before and play Sunday and then a few more holes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, but heck, I've played that place so many times, I should know every square foot of that golf course.