What they said: Bernhard Langer

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March 14, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

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DAVE SENKO: Bernhard, thanks for joining us. Maybe just get us started. You have had some success here. You had a chance to play the course today, any changes from the past??

BERNHARD LANGER: No, no changes that I'm aware of and the course is in pretty good condition, so it's all what we're used to pretty much. Even the weather is beautiful, so no surprises.

DAVE SENKO: How has your year gone so far? You had some issues last year?

BERNHARD LANGER: Yes, I had surgery last year and that really set me back, surgery on my thumb. But now I feel like I can swing the way I want to swing again. I could put more pressure on the thumb and had a pretty decent start. I think I've had 15, third and second, so I'm in the right direction looking for a W again.

DAVE SENKO: Questions??

Q. Did the thumb injury mess with your mind at all??

BERNHARD LANGER: Not so much, because there is no reason why it should. I just had a lot of pain. I had surgery, and I still had pain afterwards. And the body doesn't like pain, so you got to make movements to avoid it. And in golf it's such a fine technique and fine motor, whatever you call it, swing or mechanism, if something goes a little off, it shows up big time. I could definitely tell. And then once you do that for a few weeks, and your results are not so good, then the confidence goes down. Then you try and force it and push it and it's a vicious cycle. So confidence is big in this game and the game is hard enough when you are healthy so you don't want to be injured.

Q. Which thumb was it??

BERNHARD LANGER: The left.

Q. Is this the kind of course that anybody can win on, and the par 5's are reachable for a lot of the guys and it's more a strategy type course, not real long??

BERNHARD LANGER: I agree that anybody can win out here because it's one of the shorter courses that we play on with the exception of the par 5s. That is a huge advantage if you hit the ball 30 yards further or 20 than some of the shorter hitters because you are going to be able the reach most of the par 5's and maybe have eagle opportunities, or definite birdies, while the shorter guys will not reach them and will struggle to make birdies.

That's the one thing, the 4 par 5s are all reachable, or can be reachable. Is it 4, or is it 3? I'm just trying to think. So three of them. No. 3, 15 and 18, right, 3 par 5s.

Q. Bernhard, with The Masters coming up, and the way the golf course has changed there, do you still feel like when you are playing these events that's in the back of your mind, or do you feel like it's gotten to the point where the course is kind of discriminating against a player like you; that's more of a precision player, so your focus is out here??

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, my focus is out here for sure because that's where I've been playing, and I will continue to play, and The Masters is the only tournament I play on the regular TOUR.

And I agree with you when they changed The Masters where most holes were changed by 25 to 40 yards more, it made a huge difference for a medium hitter like me, or even a shorter hitter on the PGA TOUR now. And it puts me in a situation where I'm hitting 3 and 4 irons into par 4's where the longer guys hit 7 and 8 irons. And that's almost impossible if I may say that and the scores show it.

Because I believe the greens at Augusta were designed, even though they are large, some of them are big, but there is always small pockets, and they are no bigger than maybe this room.

And to land the ball on this size a room and stop it, you can't do that with a 3 iron or 4 iron. But you can with an 8 or 9 iron or sometimes a 7 iron and that's the big difference.

I could hit a really good shot, whatever it is, side hill, downhill lie, with a 3 or 4 iron, hit it as good as I can and it might not stay on the green.

Or if it stays on the green it rolls to 50, 60 feet and that's not a birdie putt. You are lucky to 2 putt most of the time from that distance on those greens.

And I talked to Jack and played a practice round with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player a few years ago and I said, Jack, when you were playing in your prime, what irons did you hit into these par 4's?

And he said, you know, I never hit more than an 8 iron. It's all wedge, 9 and 8 irons. Never more than an 8 iron. And that's what the greens were really designed for, I believe. It's a different golf course for me.

And the other thing I don't like, or actually disagree with, is that they put rough out there. They don't call it rough for whatever reason.

Q. Second cut.

BERNHARD LANGER: That's weird already, second cut. Why call it second cut? It's rough. It's not a fairway. But it took all of the angles out.

There were several holes where the angle was so important, what angle you would come into the green, because the green is shaped a certain way or with a pin position.

Now having rough left and right, you have a 30-yard wide fairway, and you are just happen to be on the fairway. You can't choose to be on the left side or the right side because nobody is that good to hit it within five yards all the time.

I thought that was always a unique feature about Augusta National that we didn't have rough, and you had the option, do I want to attack this from the left side of the fairway or from the right side of the fairway?

Q. Technology has helped champion's players as well. Watson said he never hit it 300 yards when he was on the regular TOUR, but are you surprised at some of the distances on the regular TOUR now, and the young guys coming up? Bubba Watson was hitting go it 340, 360 last week. At Riviera, last month

BERNHARD LANGER: I am definitely surprised. I watch it on TV and know some of these courses. And, you know, was it Bradley last week at the 8th hole into the wind at Doral, he had like 251 into the wind, and he hit a 3 wood and flew it over the green. So he flew it 260 into the wind, so he carried it probably 275 or 280, if there had been no wind, with a 3 wood. That's just unheard of. Or used to be. But it's a common thing nowadays.

I think what happened is when we switched from the balata round ball to the two or three piece balls, whatever they are now. If you swing the club 10 miles faster than the other guy, you used to get about 10 yards for every mile about a yard.

Now if you swing it 10 miles faster, you get about 20 to 25. So you get a lot more out of the equipment than we used to.

So the guys who swing it faster or harder have, you know, even more of an advantage and that's where these tremendous distances come from. Plus they're better athletes. 90 percent of the guys work out nowadays. They are just better athletes than they used to be, stronger, more flexible. There is about a dozen physical trainers out there and stuff like that. You didn't see that when I was younger.

Q. It still comes down to the short game usually, right??

BERNHARD LANGER: It does. Sure. It always does because you got to putt and chip it and get up and down and that tough. But it does help if you hit it 330 off the tee. There is just hardly any par 5s you can't reach anymore. And even a 500 yard par 4, which we never had, okay, I think they used to cut it off at 480. But now at The Masters you have two holes at 500; 10 and 11. They are still hitting 7 irons in there or something like that.

Q. Do you think this Champions Tour is relaxed, laid back, do you think??

BERNHARD LANGER: I think we make it a little more laid back. Obviously, the guys want to win out here. There is a lot of incentive to play well because only Top 30 are exempt for next year. Top 24 play one pro ams. The others play 2 pro ams. There is a lot of guys that need to play well to stay exempt otherwise they're off.

So on the golf course, I think most of the guys are still trying to win and do great.

But off the golf course we are certainly very relaxed, and even on the golf course some of us know that hey, we only got a few years left, let's enjoy it. We are not here to build a career at this stage. We want to enjoy what we've done in the past and knowing that there is only a few years left, let's have fun doing it.

Q. What's your approach??

BERNHARD LANGER: Well, both. I want to still be competitive and win tournaments. But I also want to have fun because I'm going to be 55 soon. I know there is only so many years left in my body. So let's enjoy it. I'm not out here to prove that I can play and win tournaments, and I need to do this and need to do that. I've done that all of my life, so I don't need to do that any longer.

DAVE SENKO: Everyone good? Thanks, Bernhard.

BERNHARD LANGER: Pleasure.

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