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September 5, 2018

Thomas Bjorn

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: We joined are by European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Björn who will shortly reveal his four wildcard picks, thus finalising, and try to win back this coveted trophy.

(Video played.)

Confirmation of the eight automatic qualifiers: Molinari, Rose, Hatton, Fleetwood, all earned their places via the European Points list; and Rahm, McIlroy, Noren, Olesen, made the team courtesy of the World Points tally, which means we have four wildcard mystery men to reveal today.

Thomas, this is probably the worst part of the job for you, or any captain. What's it been like particularly over the last 48 hours.

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, there's been a lot of thought. There's been so many guys in Europe that's done so well this year, and it's a bit of a sign where European golf is, but obviously there's a lot of guys that deserves a lot of thinking about.

Yeah, it's not been the easiest but on the other hand, it's a privileged situation to be in for me, having that many to choose from, and in the end you have to make choices. It's not all easy but it's a great position to be in.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: In some ways, having more contenders, maybe ten in total, makes it on the one hand difficult, but at least the people who didn't get chosen maybe understand the level of competition.

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, there's a certain level of that, but a professional sportsman still drives his career to making big occasions. There's a couple of disappointed people on the phone yesterday and that's part and parcel of the game and it was tough phone calls, but it's about the four that made it and the other eight that made it on merit. These are the 12 we can go with and we look forward to that.

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: My first pick is Paul Casey.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: You were instrumental in bringing him back into the Ryder Cup fold. How important has it been to you to see him there, and what has he given you in return?

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: With Paul's commitment to what he wants to do with playing back in The Ryder Cup team after ten years, the conversations we had, he's really shown he missed this part of his life and he really wanted to get back. With a win earlier this year, he's really done well to get back in the game, and it really was a no-brainer for me to bring him back.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: And he has that Ryder Cup pedigree, as well, going back to the famous hole-in-one, which I suppose are the things that we never forget.

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: He's world-class, Paul. These are the things that he, as you say, making hole-in-ones is what he does, and hopefully he does in a few weeks' time. He brings world class golf to the team and he's a wonderful match player, as well. Great to have him back.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: And when you have him in mind, any Ryder Cup Captain, when he goes on and gives you the confirmation of a win in a big event, like he did this year, you mentioned at the Valspar, and it was pretty impressive because he had waited some time for that.

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, he sometimes gets at him that he can't close it out and I don't really see him like that. I see Paul as a player that's always there or thereabout.

He just has that demeanor about him that when he gets in those tough situations, he wants it really bad; and in golf, sometimes it goes the right way or the wrong way. But in The Ryder Cup, he's shown he has the pedigree on the team.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: Okay. That's one chosen. One face is revealed.

And wildcard No. 2. Who have you picked?

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: My second pick is Sergio Garcia.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: Somewhere in the background, Sergio will be listening to that and I'm sure he'll love it. It's been a difficult time for him and probably a difficult time for you, wondering whether to have him on the team or not. You can't get away from the fact that people have been questioning his form of late.

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, but you've got to look at Sergio in certain ways. The one thing about Sergio is he's the heartbeat of the team. I've always said that about him. It's like a football team going without their captain. That's what he is.

He comes in the team room, and people that have experienced Sergio in the team room and around The Ryder Cup Team realise how much he brings to it. Not only is he a fantastic golfer and goes out on the golf course and does what he does in Ryder Cups and we've seen it time after time but what he also brings is that he makes everyone around him better. He is just everything that that team room is.

We talked about it a lot, what is great about a European Team room. Well, he is what's great about The European Team room. He is everything what the European Ryder Cup is about.

Over the years, from when he set out with Jesper Parnevik in 1999 and all the way through -- he missed 2010 when he was struggling with his game, but I watched him as a player, I watched him as a vice captain, and there's just something about him, and I for one have so much belief that he's going to go to France and deliver as he normally does in the team, on the golf course, but as important, off the golf course.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: How much were you influenced by the fact that you have five rookies on the team when you were picking someone like Sergio?

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, five rookies -- we've got five great rookies, and we'll get to that later, talking about the eight that's in there, but we do have five great rookies on the team, but you need people like this. You need people that's been there and done it all and through it all positively and negatively, and Sergio is, for me, the one person that I really feel like I can trust with everything that we do that's Ryder Cup.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: Two out of four then we have. And we are on the way to getting all four. So Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia.

Who is next?

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: The next one is probably no surprise to most people, and that's Ian Poulter.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: Everyone expected it. Not a surprise. Must have weighed on your mind at some point in the year: What happens if I don't pick Poults, what will happen to me; but he made it easy for you, do you think?

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, when he won in Houston, I thought he was on the track to become part of this team. There's a thing about Ian: When he gets confident and when he gets believing -- and I met him in the parking lot at Augusta, and that's where he just kind of went: 'Okay, I'm going to make this Ryder Cup Team, and I'm going to be there and I'm going to do everything I can.' He normally hits that European badge that hard, and that's what he's always about doing it for the big stage. He is a man for the occasion. He really is just a special person that week. Both him and Sergio, sometimes you feel like they should have been footballers because they like that team sport so much, and that's what they bring to a Ryder Cup Team.

Q. And what he did there, did that seal his place?
CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: No, but I think the way he kept playing and the way he kept talking about, this was the only real main focus of his; he was back in that frame of mind that we like seeing him in, and that for me, is the important thing. Winning golf tournaments is important, but the frame of mind and what you want to achieve and how you want to go into a Ryder Cup is really important, and he does it probably better than anybody else.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: So three out of four, and certainly two of them were expected in the case of Ian Poulter and Paul Casey. Sergio was the one that we waited on.

But the fourth, interesting. On you go.

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: The last one is Henrik Stenson.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: Well, approval all around, and Henrik will enjoy that. Again, you know, he's had some injury problems. How much of a worry was that for you?

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, he had a pretty decent start to the season and he did well in the U.S. Open and in the Masters. He was putting in good performances. Maybe not winning as much as Henrik is used to, but when it came down to it, he ran into an injury just before The Open Championship, and we had long conversations.

But those conversations continued and Henrik's focus then changed from his personal achievement to be wanting to be ready for The Ryder Cup. As soon as we had those conversations and I knew where his focus was, I knew it wasn't a big problem for me to pick him because I feel like he is -- the stature that he brings, the calmness that he brings in the team room and the person he is, he's great at looking after some of the youngsters. He's just a very good guy to have around, and just a strong player.

This is what all four brings. They are easy I for me to partner up with other players and amongst the other eight, they are already qualified. This is a strong partnership that has built over the years. These two guys love each other, and Justin will find it difficult to be at a Ryder Cup at this moment in time if Henrik is not there. That's the things you have to look at. You have to look at other players that react, as well, to the players that are coming in.

These four all bring so much to The Ryder Cup. They bring loads of experience, loads of appearances, loads of points won, and they know what it's like to win and lose, and they will come in with heart and soul into this.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: So it's done now, Thomas. You can relax from now on. The four wildcard picks are completed. There they are, Paul Casey, Sergio García, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, all that in alphabetical order, so we can see the completed team.

We talked about the eight automatic places, and the wildcard picks marked with the asterisks. When you look at the team, Captain Thomas Björn, what do you feel?

CAPTAIN THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, if I had written down 12 names before I started my captaincy journey, it wouldn't have been far away from this. I'm very delighted with this team and I'm very proud to be captain for these 12 players. They bring so much to European golf, and they are just a fantastic group of guys. We know what we are up against. We know what America brings, but I'm confident that this is the group of guys that can do the job.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE: I think we concur with that. That's your team finalised and of course, having the four wildcard picks now, and those players we've talked about in Paul Casey, all that background and all that confidence; Sergio Garcia, and Mr. Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter, and together with the final choice, Henrik Stenson.

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