2021 Cologuard Classic Media Day

Posted by Rob Myers on

Bernhard Langer and Jerry Kelly Interview Transcript

QUESTION: “The Cologuard Classic not only brings legendary golf to Tucson, but also provides a significant platform to raise awareness of colorectal cancer and the vital important of early detection. Can you talk a little bit about the tournament’s mission?”

JERRY KELLY: “The tournament’s mission is very simple and it’s not as much about golf as a normal golf tournament is. This is about early detection. This is about keeping people healthy. This is about you know, taking care of our own; everyone we know, everyone we love. Early detection is extremely important in eradicating the disease and we know that there are racial disparities out there as well and that is one of the focuses of this tournament is to actually tackle that issue as well. This pandemic has resulted in an 85-90 percent decrease in screening, I mean that is just one of the many things this pandemic has done. Since we are all at home more, Cologuard is just a natural, easy way to get screened, even when you can’t go see your doctor. I am pushing really hard this year. Obviously, I haven’t talked about golf. I don’t think I am going to talk about golf the entire time and the week I’m there. I want people to get screened because this is an early detection, curable disease and I want people here.” 

QUESTION: “Your victory at the 2020 Cologuard Classic was a big one for you, being your 41st on the PGA TOUR Champions. What specific memories from the tournament last year stand out?”

BERNHARD LANGER: “First of all, I just want to congratulate everyone with the tournament. It is truly one of the best we have on the Champions Tour and Jerry you are doing a great job sharing the message and the news. I got tested last year because of you basically. I think it is so important. It is just a fantastic event. I always love coming back there. It is just a fantastic golf course and perfect for the Champions Tour. It is a classic golf course with tree lines, small greens, length is important but it’s not all important. It’s about accuracy and what I remember is I just made very few mistakes. I played really solid tee to green and with the putter that week. I made very few bogeys and was able to make a bunch of birdies. What stands out to me is the 16th hole, with the amazing atmosphere you have around there and the 18th hole always gets your heart rate going when you see it go left to right, it’s one of the hardest tee shots we face all year. If you can overcome those two, you are slightly ahead of the field I would think. I was able to conquer those holes most of the time. It’s just, again, we love coming there. The golf course is always in great shape. Katy Pradella with her whole team does a wonderful job and with Kristen Weiler, Dennis Caldwell, the Conquistadors and Exact Sciences, everyone involved is just doing a phenomenal job and it’s fun for us to be there for the whole week and enjoy everything there is to enjoy.”

QUESTION: “As a Cologuard ambassador, this tournament is a special one for you. Can you expand on that?”

JERRY KELLY: “This year is kind of a tough one for me. Last year I had one of my really good friends (Rob Andringa) enter into the golf tournament to play the Pro-Am and he played great, looked great, it was awesome to have him out there. He did a great job spreading the message. We lost him in May. That is how quick this disease can catch up to you, which was just shocking to me. We lost Dina Golas in November. It is one of those things that is just hard. It was a friend of mine with no family history who was waiting until he was 50 years old to get tested and he had stage 4 at age 48. This is what we are here for. This is what the tournament is all about. We need to stop these stories from happening. We are going to have some great survivor stories and I think it’s just putting a spotlight on the survivor stories because that early detection is everything in order to have the survivors that we have coming to the tournament and being there virtually. We have to celebrate that fact and that is what makes this tournament really that much more special for me. It just really hit home personally. We have some work to do.”

QUESTION: “You’re still competing at a very high level at age 63, making the cut at The Masters and winning consistently on the PGA TOUR Champions, can you describe what goes into your physical and mental preparation for tournaments?”

BERNHARD LANGER: “Yes I have always enjoyed working out. It is just a part of my life. I do some cardio almost every day and some light weights and ropes and bands. I feel I have more energy, I feel better, I sleep better, and I am healthier when I do workout. Golf is not just about fitness though, it’s very technical and very mental. I have been able to improve my golf swing over the years and it becomes a little more consistent and reliable and then mentally it is one of the hardest sports you’ll ever tackle because there is so much time to think and so many shots are not good or not great or not as good as you expect them to be, so it is easy to get down on yourself. It is always a battle, but I have been tremendously blessed to be able to play this long at this level. When I turned pro on TOUR at 18, I never thought I would still be playing professionally at 63. That just is a wonderful thing to me and I enjoy being out there with my fellow collogues, playing some of the very best events and golf courses there is. It is a true blessing for me.” 

QUESTION: “As the defending champion, do you approach this year’s event any differently? Is there added pressure or a sense of confidence?”

BERNHARD LANGER: “I really don’t approach it differently. If anything, it gives me more confidence. Knowing that I have won there before is just as helpful mentally realizing I have the game to compete there at the highest level and be in contention. I always felt that about The Omni Tucson National Golf Course and I finally got that very special trophy.” 

QUESTION: “What are you both looking forward to at the 2021 Cologuard Classic?”

JERRY KELLY: “I think that I am looking forward to applying some of these lessons that I have learned from Bernhard during this media interview. To be able to listen to him and have some insight, I am excited to play now. I love hearing what kind of feelings he gets and where he gets them. It’s fun. For me to be able to play, as he said, when I was 18 thinking I would be playing now just shocks me. It is a blessing we are all playing still. For me to be playing with someone like Bernhard it just gives me chills. I can’t wait to tee it up with these guys. We are all ultra-competitive, that’s what keeps it fun but there are also some great friendships out there. I can’t wait to see everyone and compete against them. Here we come Tucson.” 


BERNHARD LANGER: “There are so many things to look forward to. One would be the beautiful weather, the great golf course, and just like Jerry said, competing against some of the legends in the game of golf; Being next to them and having conversations with them. Ernie Els just joined us about a year ago to play our Tour full-time. Jim Furyk has made a huge commitment, I have seen him just about every time and we need to see more from Phil Mickelson in the future. There are guys like K.J. Choi, I sat next to him at dinner about a week ago in Hawaii and learned a little bit about him that I didn’t know. Where he grew up in South Korea, he had to drive three hours to the nearest golf course and then three hours back. I mean you’re talking commitment; this is unbelievable. There’s so much behind this great game and the individuals that we are, it’s always fun to get to know people more and more. One thing I haven’t mentioned is playing in Pro-Ams. We get to play with CEOs and CFOs and all sorts of amazing people. Not just that they have been successful in whatever they do, but I have created some wonderful friendships over the years with people I have met in Pro-Ams so it is always exciting to see who I am going to play with this year and just the conversations we have. Last year I had plantar fasciitis and I was paired with Nick Saban in the Pro-Am and I told him about my foot problem and asked him if any of his players deal with this and he said they do and put me in contact with their team doctor and he gave me some pointers and a couple weeks later it was gone. Those are things you don’t get on a regular basis. I am excited about all of that. 

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