Langer watches from afar

"The Open confirmed what I have been believing for some months, which is that the European team will be a very strong blend of experienced golfers and young guns." Says Langer.

Bob Warters's picture
Wed, 21 Jul 2004

Langer watches from afar
Langer watches from afar



Captain Langer – TV addict

Picture the scene: It’s 80 degrees in the sun, the wife and kids are enjoying the swimming pool on the patio and Bernhard Langer’s glued to the television for hours on end.

The Ryder Cup captain is just like us!

But for the German this was research – checking on the form of the European talent competing in the Open Championship at Royal Troon - ahead of the 35th Ryder Cup matches from September 17-19 at Oakland Hills, Michigan.

"I followed the progress of all the European players on television for several hours each day, all four days, and I was thrilled with what I saw," said Langer from his home in Bavaria. "The Open confirmed what I have been believing for some months, which is that the European team will be a very strong blend of experienced golfers and young guns.

Langer also gave a hint that Colin Montgomerie, for three days responding to the support of the crowd and on the tail of the leaders, is still strongly in his thoughts – probably as a captain’s pick.

"Thomas Levet followed on from his Loch Lomond win by leading the way with Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Gary Evans, Joakim Haeggman, Barry Lane, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter all playing brilliantly.

"And I thought Lee Westwood emphasised, with his best of the weekend 68-67 finish, that he will win a Major Championship."

Langer added: "We are always the underdogs for The Ryder Cup – on paper! But with nine Europeans in the top 25, and six of those currently in qualifying positions, this was a very positive result."

Despite missing out of qualifying at Sunningdale, Langer added that he seriously thought about turning up at Royal Troon in his captaincy capacity. "I thought about going, but I felt the last thing the guys needed was for me to be distracting them when their own focus was on winning the Open. You don’t go to the Open to bond for The Ryder Cup or chit-chat over dinner – and there will be plenty of time to bond ahead of playing the Americans. We’ll be ready – and we will be a team," he added.

He said he learned a lot watching the players on television and was able to receive more treatment on the wrist he injured earlier this year. He wants to be fit to compete in The International, US PGA Championship and the WGC – NEC Invitational in August.

"I’ve been in touch with the players on a regular basis, but I’ll be looking forward to seeing most, if not all, the eventual members of the team during that run of three weeks.

"My response to anyone who suggests we shall be anything other than a strongly bonded team is to believe that at your peril. There are few more competitive persons in sport than myself and I will leave nothing to chance."

Vice-captain Anders Forsbrand is due to visit the Oakland Hills venue next month, where 46 diseased trees had to be cut down, which may have changed the nature of any of the holes.

"I understand the 15th – a dogleg – might play differently. Anders will report back on how the width of the fairways, the height of the rough is shaping," said Langer.

The double US Masters champion will be back in Europe at the BMW International Open in Munich at the end of August to select his two wild cards. He won’t be playing in the event but concentrating on his choices.

Top five in the rankings, with seven tournaments to go, are Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Lee Westwood.

"They all have terrific Ryder Cup experience – they’ve played 49 matches between them – and I know we are going to have a very strong team capable of bringing the Cup back," said a determined Langer.

How do you think Europe will perform in the Ryder Cup – who will be Langer’s picks? Tell us on the forum.