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May 31, 2017

Thomas Bjorn

Robert Karlsson

SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for joining us this afternoon. My name is Scott Crockett, Communications Director for The European Tour.

Thank you for joining us this afternoon on what is a very special day for everyone connected with Ryder Cup Europe. I'm delighted to be joined on the top table by Ryder Cup Captain 2018 Thomas Björn, and also Christian Ahlqvist, who is the media manager for the European Masters here in Sweden.

Christian, before we begin, on behalf of everyone at Ryder Cup Europe, can I say a thank you to yourself and everyone for allowing us to make this announcement here today. It's very much appreciated.

Without further ado, let us get underway. As you can see, there's a spare seat here beside us at the top table, and I'm delighted to ask Thomas Björn to tell us who is going to fill that seat.

THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, it's a great honour for me to announce my first vice captain, a truly great friend, and one of the longer-serving members of the Tour and a successful Ryder Cup player in himself and also a former European No. 1.

So without further ado, I'd like to announce Robert Karlsson as my first vice captain.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Robert, welcome and many congratulations. Can you give us your initial reaction to your appointment as Thomas Björn's first vice captain to the 2018 Ryder Cup.

ROBERT KARLSSON: To sit here now is obviously a great honour and I'm really, really looking forward to the next year and a half. It's fantastic to be part of the team again, even if it's only on the outside or behind the scenes. Just really I'm very honoured and really looking forward to it.

SCOTT CROCKETT: What qualities will Robert bring?

THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, first of all for me, it's very much a question of having people that I have 100 per cent faith in. There are people that have played, and the players that are going to be on the team can relate to; Robert brings a lot of experience. He's got a very analytical mind and he has played a home match and an away match.

He brings so much to the table and then most of all, he's just a great friend, a guy that I've grown a great friendship with over all the years that we've played. I very strongly believe in having people around me that I can just trust and believe in, and we've got a job to do together.

Obviously the people that are going to be around me are people that bring something to the table, and I believe Robert ticks all those boxes that I want. He's thorough. He has a great mind. He's calm when needed to be. You know, all those things puts me in a position where I've just got good people around me to deliver the job in hand.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You've already been active behind the scenes; is that starting to give you an idea of the scale of the vice captain role?

ROBERT KARLSSON: It's definitely bigger than I kind of expected, and what you see from the outside. Now have had a few meetings and an idea of the framework of how things are going to work. It's definitely a bigger role than what most people see from the outside. So definitely something that's going to be very challenging and inspiring for the next 18 months.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You already talked about the importance of having people you trust in a Ryder Cup environment, and clearly Robert falls into that category.

THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, he does. And I think the experience that he brings, and the knowledge of the players; you grow a relationship with people over years on Tour, and every time we have a conversation, there's always a mind at work. There's an analytical side to Robert that sees good things in people and the way they play, and also can be critical at the right times.

I think our job is to make sure that we create an environment that's perfect for those 12 guys that are going to play. But also, that we are in control of where the players are at that moment in time.

I think we put so much on the table for me to be able to make good decisions, and also somebody for the next 18 months to have great conversations with; there's a lot of decisions to be made along the way. There's a lot of discussions to be had, and I want to do this with people that I'm fond of but also people I know can deliver.

With Robert's experience, I know he can deliver that and he can give me the foundation to make the right decisions.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You've played in two Ryder Cups, one home and one away. How important do you think home advantage will be for Europe at Le Golf National next September?

ROBERT KARLSSON: It's such a big difference playing home and away. First of all, the spectators, the atmosphere is a huge difference.

This time we have one big thing, as well. We've played on Paris National for many, many years, playing it this year and next year. To have a course that we know very well is also a big advantage. We play it all the time. And I think in general, I would say the American Team probably hit the ball further than the Europeans. So both the accuracy and the course knowledge is a huge advantage.

SCOTT CROCKETT: It's 486 days to go until the first tee shot is struck, and that might seem a long time away but I'm guessing that might well go quickly.

THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, probably like it to be 586 I think. There's a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of things to happen in that spell of time, and it happens quick. I can't believe it's so long since I've been announced. I was looking at it the other day, more than six months into it, and it just goes so quick.

We always know The Ryder Cup comes around quicker than you think, and we'll be on that first tee in Paris sooner rather than later. Our job now is to make sure that everything is ready for those 12 guys playing so they can deliver their job in hand, and it's something that happens to the very few. It's an amazing opportunity for everybody involved but it's also something that is such a great honour for us to be part of, and our job is to make sure the Tour guys feel great about themselves and that's the job that's in hand for us.

Q. How long before you announce the next vice captains?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, I always got a few more announcements on that front. You know, this was an important one for me. There will probably be one more made. I'm kind of toiling with the idea of this year. Not quite made up my mind on that 100 per cent yet, and then the last ones will come right at the end. I don't really want to get there too quick.

I need one or two people around me that I can have discussions with, and Robert being the first one, and there's more likely that there's going to be one more by the end of this year. But I'm not -- one thing that I look at is, I need people to concentrate on playing golf.

And this is a conversation that started with Robert a while ago, and we got to the conclusion that this is the right thing for me and it worked well for Robert. But you know, with other guys, you want them to play golf and you want them to concentrate about their own golf game, and then whatever will be, will be. And I will just want to see out my time with that, no rush.

But this is very much a good thing for me to have a person next to me that I can run things by. You know, there's a lot of thoughts that goes through your head and sometimes it's good to have somebody that's been through it, all those things himself, and you can have these discussions, and maybe just get a little bit of feedback.

But I'm in no rush with the others, but I'm quite sure that one more will come by the end of this year.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

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