SUTTON COLDFIELD, England -- Returning for his 10th Ryder Cup, Bernhard Langer still gets asked about the 6-foot putt that cost Europe the 1991 Ryder Cup.
Langer, who didn't make the European team that lost to the United States at Brookline three years ago, is back to try and regain the cup at The Belfry starting Friday.
As the elder statesman of the European team, the 45-year-old German also might be called on to guide some of the rookies through the sport's highest-pressure competition.
But few players have ever been under as much pressure as Langer was at Kiawah Island, S.C., 11 years ago when he came to the 18th hole against Hale Irwin. Europe, the defending champion, needed for Langer to sink the putt to hold onto the trophy.
The putt slid by the hole, and Langer's anguished face said it all. Irwin halved the match and the cup was back in America's hands.
The German two-time Masters champion admitted it was the greatest pressure he had felt in a Ryder Cup.
"But it wasn't just that one putt," he said. "It was the last four of five holes. I knew from the time I teed off on 15 that it came right down to this match. Whatever the outcome, it would determine the outcome of the Ryder Cup for that year."
"So every shot from that point on was extremely important," Langer said. "And I managed to come from 2 down to even, and even then had a chance to win this thing on the 18th, which I missed. But there was extreme pressure for every one of those shots on the last four holes."
While Langer stands just one short of Nick Faldo's record of 11 Ryder Cups, Sweden's Niclas Fasth and Pierre Fulke, Ireland's Paul McGinley and Welshman Philip Price are making their debuts.
Langer said he's happy to give them all the advice they may need.
"Obviously there might be one or two of the first-timers who might come up and ask a few questions, and I'm very happy to talk to them about it and see if I can give them any advice," he said. "But I'm going to be treated like one of the 12."
Asked to recall his first appearance as a 24-year-old player in 1981, Langer admitted his first shot in the foursomes was a nerve-wracking experience.
"I was playing with Manuel Pinero and we didn't do very well to say the least," Langer said. "I think we lost our first game (to Lee Trevino and Larry Nelson). But that was probably the strongest American team I faced in those nine times."
Although the pairings haven't yet been revealed on either side, this time Langer could team up with another experienced Ryder Cup player, Colin Montgomerie, who is making his sixth appearance.
Langer believes that Europe will maintain its tradition of doing well in the first two days of foursomes and fourballs before they reach the singles matches on Sunday.
"It's very strange because we come from different countries, speak different languages yet we seem to do very well when we play together as a team," Langer said. "In the singles we don't quite perform as well."
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