Q&A

2016 BOE­ING CLAS­SIC CHAM­PION BERN­HARD LANGER + 5 TO WATCH

Golf Today Northwest - - Front Page - By Tony Dear

Bern­hard Langer, the de­fend­ing cham­pion, is 59 and seem­ingly play­ing as well as ever. The Ger­man, known through­out his ca­reer for his at­ten­tion to de­tail and me­thod­i­cal pre­ci­sion, will likely start the tour­na­ment a hot favorite. And, if he wins a third Boe­ing Clas­sic, he’ll inch a lit­tle closer to Hale Irwin’s record 45 Cham­pi­ons Tour vic­to­ries. We spent 20 min­utes on the phone with him re­cently – just enough time to ask how he feels about com­ing to Seattle, and how on earth he still man­ages to keep shoot­ing those low num­bers You’ve played the Boe­ing Clas­sic ev­ery year since 2009. What do you espe­cially en­joy about com­ing to the event? Oh, I love ev­ery­thing about it - the city, the course, the spec­ta­tors, the vol­un­teers, the scenery. I al­ways look for­ward to the Boe­ing Clas­sic, and just seem to al­ways be in a good mood that week. Win­ning the U.S. Senior Open up here (at Sa­halee CC in 2010) helps too. I just love the area. Are you able to visit Seattle and the sur­round­ing area much? Most of the time I’m in Sno­qualmie of course, but we’ve (Bern­hard and wife Vikki) been out on El­liot Bay, and have walked a lot in the city. We’ve been to see Sno­qualmie Falls, and have also spent some time hik­ing in the moun­tains. It’s a very beau­ti­ful place, and we just al­ways en­joy our time here.

In eight ap­pear­ances, you have five top-ten fin­ishes and two wins. You ob­vi­ously do well at a lot of dif­fer­ent cour­ses, but you seem espe­cially well-suited to TPC Sno­qualmie Ridge. You’re right, I’ve had success at a lot of dif­fer­ent types of cour­ses, so I’m not sure what it is about Sno­qualmie Ridge specif­i­cally. I think if you like a course and en­joy play­ing it, you’re go­ing to do bet­ter than if you don’t re­ally like it. I also en­joy putting on fast greens and Sno­qualmie’s are al­ways in su­perb con­di­tion. They roll very smooth, and can be pretty fast. But I think it’s a course ev­ery­one en­joys. How could you not like Sno­qualmie Ridge? What are some of your favorite holes?

There re­ally isn’t a bad one. I think my favorite is the 18th. I love when you get up to the green, look back, and see the moun­tains. But there are many oth­ers. The 14th is ob­vi­ously an ex­cit­ing hole, and the 17th is a very pretty par 3. But so is the 9th - that’s a great hole for spec­ta­tors. On Sun­day last year, you shot 30 on the back nine to get in the play­off af­ter an in­dif­fer­ent open­ing nine. How did you turn it around? Over the first seven or eight holes I was push­ing ev­ery­thing right. I knew what I was do­ing wrong. I was hang­ing back with my up­per body too much, and not re­leas­ing the club­head cor­rectly. On the 10th tee I told my cad­die what I was do­ing and how I was go­ing to put it right, and I did. I be­gan cov­er­ing the ball much bet­ter, and ev­ery iron shot flew like a laser to­ward the tar­get.

It was one of those stretch of holes where ev­ery­thing just felt right. You have 32 Cham­pi­ons Tour wins now. Are you go­ing to keep go­ing un­til you beat Hale Irwin’s 45? Haha, I don’t know. That re­ally isn’t a con­scious tar­get. I might not last that long. The guys turn­ing 50 and com­ing out on the Cham­pi­ons Tour seem so young, and they can still hit it a long way. I’m not get­ting any younger, or longer. How do you do it? How do you main­tain this level of per­for­mance in your late 50s? I get asked that ques­tion a lot, so I’ve had some prac­tice an­swer­ing it. I think it’s a com­bi­na­tion of sev­eral things. I was blessed with a tal­ent which is a big part of it ob­vi­ously, but equally im­por­tant I think is the strong de­sire to keep go­ing. I en­joy play­ing and win­ning, and ob­vi­ously want to win as many tour­na­ments as I can. I en­joy work­ing hard. It’s im­por­tant to have a great coach (Langer spent decades with fel­low Ger­man Wil­lie Hoff­man, and also re­cently started work­ing with Eric Ka­plan from Mi­ami). I’ve also had great cad­dies (Pete Cole­man car­ried Langer’s bag for 22 years be­fore call­ing it a day in 2003, and Terry Holt has been there through much of Langer’s senior ca­reer). Hav­ing a sta­ble fam­ily life, and great friends is im­por­tant too cer­tainly. It’s just been a phe­nom­e­nal ride. You turn 60 on the Sun­day of this year’s tour­na­ment. How spe­cial would it be to win on your 60th birth­day?

What can I say, that would be to­tally awe­some, espe­cially as one or two spe­cial friends will be in the gallery. But re­ally, just be­ing in con­tention on the back nine will be ex­cit­ing. What­ever hap­pens though, it will be a spe­cial day.

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