You come in off a runner-up finish last week and have had a terrific run here for the last three months with a number of top-10 finishes. You come in to this week as our leader, both on the money list and the Charles Schwab Cup points list. Maybe just start us off with your thoughts on coming in here for the last week of the season.
It's hard to believe another season is almost over. It's been, for me personally, another great year. I've been fairly health, had a few issues here and there, but nothing as severe as last year. I t's just good to playing some good golf again. It's been a very consistent year. Had a chance to win a couple more tournaments that I didn't win, but then I won one or two that maybe I wasn't expected to win when I shot very low on Sunday. It's been an interesting season, but as I said, very consistent with lots of top 10s and lots of weeks in contention.
Did you have a chance to play here today?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yes, I played yesterday and today.
Maybe just talk about the course and what problems are out there for the players this week.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, if you don't hit it straight and precise, there are lots of problems out there. The fairways are reasonably wide and a little soft. The ball stops pretty quick on the fairway. The greens are often elevated and angled. They are pretty firm and I think therein lies the challenge to hit very precise iron shots. Obviously it's easier to hit good iron shots from the fairway rather than the rough. So you need to drive the ball well and put yourself in position to go at some of the flags. Some of the flags you may not be able to go at and just play for the middle of the green or someplace where you think you can stop the ball. I think there are one or two holes that were designed as par 5s and we are playing them as par 4s. That's always tricky because a par-5 green is often smaller, more undulated and designed for a wedge to come in and we're going to be hitting 4, 5 or 6-irons in, which is not an easy task. But it's a great golf course, wonderful layout and in really, really good condition. The greens are phenomenal and the fairways are good. Great championship and very deserving of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
What were the keys for you to play well this year and what are you most proud of?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think I improved my driving a little bit. Most of the time I've been pretty happy with how I've driven the ball this year. I'm hitting it a little farther now. I found a driver that spins the ball a little less and has a good flight to it and I hit it fairly straight most of the time. The short game may have been a little better too. I get it up and down maybe a little more often than in the past. The rest it just depends on how close I hit it and how many putts I make. Overall, when you look at the statistics, which don't always tell the whole truth, but they tell you something, I'm up there in most of the statistics. Whether it's Greens in Regulation or Putts or Fairways Hit. All of that means a little something at the end of the day.
Where are they going to play the par-3 No. 7?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's a good question. They can move the tee around every day. Obviously sometimes they put the dot out there. No. 17 is another par-3 where they can move it around. It was 240 yards today and the green is 30 yards long. It could be a 7-iron one day or a 3-iron or a hybrid the next day, it just depends on where they put the pin.
Second question is when you get a driver that is that finely tuned, how do you go about getting a back-up driver that matches that?
BERNHARD LANGER: I've got a back-up driver that exactly matches it with the same shaft, the same swing weight and everything. I just got it with half a degree less loft. If you get less spin you have the possibility of getting squirters because the less backspin you have the more sidespin you can get. It's easier today with the launch monitors we have.
As it relates to the Charles Schwab Cup, how important is the Charles Schwab Cup as you play through the season? Do you think mostly just tournament by tournament, or do you think where do I stand in the Charles Schwab Cup? Secondly, if you win the Charles Schwab Cup, what will you do with the $1 million annuity?
BERNHARD LANGER: To answer your first question, yes. A lot of guys obviously want to win the Charles Schwab Cup and look at it throughout the year. Maybe not week by week, but definitely towards the end of the year you want to have a chance to win the Cup. It's just one of those things that everyone is shooting for. Second part of the question, well, you don't get the $1 million right away. As we know it's a 10-year annuity, so you get $100,000 a year and pay taxes on it. I give a lot of money away to charity and good causes and I don't want to tell you where and how much. I'm a believer in the Bible it says don't brag about the good things you do because you don't get your reward here, you get your reward in Heaven. And I want to get my reward in Heaven. I'm not going to announce it and tell you what a great person I am, I'm just going to do it.
I asked this question to Jeff Sluman and Jay Haas this morning. What's your perspective on the anchoring issue?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well I've been asked that question probably 100 times the last three months and the answer is always the same. First of all, I don't understand why it took them 35 years. Why is it a problem now when it hasn't been a problem the last 35 years. Now if they say it's tradition, it doesn't look good. Well where does tradition start and where does it end? Did we ever consider drivers that are this big or hybrids? Are they part of the tradition of golf? Was it ever considered to have a 3-piece or 2-piece golf ball that goes 400 yards? Anyways, you can go on and on with tradition, that doesn't make sense either. The long putter was never an issue, as far as I'm concerned, until one or two guys won a major. All of a sudden now it's become a problem. Why? The most valid point I want to make is if it was that much easier to put with a long putter, why aren't 95 percent of the guys using a long putter or belly putter? Why is it still in the 10-20 percent of guys using it. That's all I have to say about it. We could discuss it for hours. The last thing I want to say is I think if they ban the long putter or the belly putter, they are going to lose some amateur putters. And that's not a way to grow the game. Because I know a lot of amateurs that can't putt at all, and they go to the long putter and they are reasonable at it. They aren't good putters, but they are reasonable and they have fun playing the game again. Now if you tell them they have to use a short putter they may just quit the game and not play anymore because it's no fun. And we're trying to grow the game and not send them home and lose players.
There are only three players that can win the Charles Schwab Cup, but do you see it as kind of a duel between you and Lehman?
BERNHARD LANGER: I actually haven't seen the final numbers. I don't know how much I am ahead of Chapman. I haven't really looked at the numbers to figure out what I have to do. What I am trying to do is play a great four rounds of golf here. Hopefully win the tournament and if I can play great this week, then hopefully I can win the Charles Schwab Cup. If I play rubbish then I'm going to depend on help from others. That's what it comes down to. My goal is to play great this week and contend for the tournament. If Tom should win and I finish whatever, second or third, my hat is off to him because he's played great golf under pressure and deserves to win. He's had a great year and so has Roger Chapman. It's exciting that there are several players that have a chance and it comes down to the last tournament.
You mentioned your faith and I know that's very important to you. How much does that help you when you are out there under the gun? Does your faith come in to play, is it a foundation to be at peace? I interviewed Gerina Pillar on the LPGA Tour and she believes everything that happens to her on the golf course is God's intention and it frees her up.
BERNHARD LANGER: Same thing. It puts everything into perspective. Before I was a believer in Jesus Christ I was totally focused on golf and earthly things. Once I understood what it was all about it just puts everything into perspective. Golf is not No. 1 in my life and it does free me up and I know where I'm going after I die, which takes a lot of pressure off as well. There is a quote in the Bible that says the peace of God surpasses all understanding, and if you have ever experienced that peace it is phenomenal. And you can only have that peace if you know God personally.
I'm fascinated by you guys who have matriculated through the PGA TOUR to the Champions Tour and it doesn't seem like you've lost a beat. It seem like you still hit the ball just as far because of the equipment changes. How long do you think you can continue to play at this level because you guys are just so good?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's a good question. You know there are a lot of hurt people out here. That's the daily talk. What hurts today, who had an operation, because that is the daily routine. There is always someone hurting. Not just one, often 10 or 20. Age is catching up with us and I've had my share of injuries, I don't always talk about them because it doesn't do any good. But I haven't had major surgeries except for my thumb. But there is always aches and pains and you just have to deal with them. First of all you need to be healthy to play this game. You need to be able to make a shoulder turn and bend over and walk and all that kind of stuff. Otherwise you can't play the game very well. That's different for everyone. We see a Hale Irwin who hasn't had many health problems and is still playing pretty competitively at age 67. And Tom Watson is, again, has been an exceptional player all is life and he is 62. He had some kind of injury this year that kept him away from the game. But up until that he was very competitive other than his hip replacement. What we lose in strength and flexibility, we can make up with better technique, knowledge, knowing what I can do and what I can't do. Play the percentage shot. Just knowing more about the game and knowing how to use the clubs. I can take a week of now and when I come back I don't feel like I've been of very long. When I was younger and I took a week off and came back I felt like a beginner. What I am trying to say is the swing is more or less just grooved itself. You have certain tendencies that come back and you just start looking there and hopefully you can figure it out.
You've kind of been the dominant player out here the last four or five years. Do you feel like your Champions Tour career is greater than your PGA TOUR career in terms of your dominance, or was your PGA TOUR career was the best time of your life golf wise?
BERNHARD LANGER: That's a good question. I think I've had some very, very good years on the European Tour and the PGA TOUR as well. I never played the PGA TOUR full time. Looking back I wish I had maybe for a few years. But I was only a member for maybe five years in my prime. Even then I only played maybe 11 or 12 events. But I remember leading the money list at times only playing a few events early in the year and then I went to Europe. I've just been blessed to have a good solid year throughout. I've had some ups and downs, like anybody. I had the yips on a few occasions which caused me to down spiral until I found a way to get the ball in the hole. But I've had a lot more good years than bad ones. I've won close to 90 tournaments around the world and you don't do that playing rubbish.