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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
Langer's calming influence
By John Mathews
BBC Sport at Oakland Hills

To suggest the rival captains at this year's Ryder Cup have slightly contrasting styles and characters is to say black is a bit darker than white.

Berhard Langer
Bernhard Langer could scarcely have less in common with Hal Sutton apart from them both being great golfers who believe they can inspire their team to win that precious golden trophy.

But that's where the similarities end.

Langer, the softly-spoken, measured and generally unassuming man from Anhausen, Germany has taken a very different path from Sutton at Oakland Hills.

Always approachable, Langer has involved his players deep within the thinking process, consulting with them rather than keeping his troops largely in the dark, as Sutton has.

And when things are this tight, that could make a difference.

The players seem sure of Langer - it appears they feel they can trust him because he has shown that much trust in them.

Make no mistake, both sides will be of course pulling for their captains and their countries when battle commences, but in Langer Europe have found a calm, reassuring figure who is absolutely guaranteed not to lose his cool when things, as they are bound to, get a little hot out there.

His fastidious approach to the game has been mirrored in the way he has gone about the captaincy.

Stories of Langer's legendary attention to detail are in abundance, though one of the best concerns him asking his caddie for a yardage from his ball on the middle of the fairway to the flag.

Captains Hal Sutton and Bernard Langer are both keen to portray their teams as the underdogs
"You're the best." "No, you are."
Pointing, his caddie told him: "It's 150 yards from that sprinkler head over there."

Quick as a flash and deadly serious, Langer replied: "Do you mean from the front of the sprinkler head or the back?"

Don't expect him to forget anything important this weekend then.

He has been taking care of business ever since being given the job, looking after his players in any way he can think of.

Massage on the flight over? Sure, Bernhard's got it covered.

How long till we land? See for yourself with your brand new Ryder Cup Rolex watch the gaffer has had engraved for you.

Those little things won't matter a lot once the matches are underway, but these European players have been relaxed, briefed and now primed to succeed.

The time has come to put Langer's grand masterplan into action.

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