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September 23, 2014

Thomas Bjorn


STEVE TODD: Joined by Thomas Björn, warm welcome to Gleneagles, Thomas.

THOMAS BJÖRN: Thank you.

STEVE TODD: We'll touch on your personal Ryder Cup experience in a minute, but as the first European player in the media centre, I just wondered if you could set the scene a little bit and give us a taste of the mood that's in the European camp at the moment.

THOMAS BJÖRN: It's good. I can't really think of anything better than this. Everybody's pretty happy, pretty relaxed with everything. Had a nice chat last night. Paul was, as he is, very to the point in what we want to do this week. You know, we come in in a situation where we're made out to be favourites, slight favourites, but we're well aware of what we're up against, a great American Team and a great American Captain. The mood is good, and we're just looking forward to the next couple of days, get out on the golf course, see the golf course, be relaxed and happy about what we're trying to do. It seems like it's a good group. Certainly the feeling is that as a 12, it's one of the best groups that we've probably ever had. So it makes for good company and a good mood in the team room.

STEVE TODD: And on a personal level, being back in The Ryder Cup for the first time in 12 years.

THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, it's been a while. I'm obviously delighted that I could make it here and it became a big thing over the summer. There's a lot of hard golf to be played to get on the team. This was an extremely difficult team to make on merit. Got off to that great start, and it kind of set the tone for the way I played this year. So I'm just delighted to be back, really. It was nice to walk in that locker room and actually see a golf bag with your name on it. It's been a while. So, yeah, I'm delighted about it. From all the way down in the heart, it feels good to be back.

Q. Just curious if you can expand a little more on what it's like to be playing again instead of being a vice captain, and did you ever reach a stage in the last four or five years where you ever wondered if you would play in another Ryder Cup?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Last time, I got pretty close to making the team and played some pretty decent golf, and I probably honestly thought that that might have been the last chance. I'm closing on in age. But I've been very determined in my golf. You get to a stage in your career where you're so scared of letting it go, that you just continue and you find ways of getting around golf courses. I played really well at the back end of last year and most parts of this season, as well. So I've been very determined with it and stayed very focused on my golf and not so much what it could lead to. You know, to come back to this team, and certainly the state of European golf today, for me is probably one of the better achievements of my career, I have to say. When I look at my teammates and see what kind of players are in this team, it's such a strong team, and I'm just delighted to be part of it and I'm delighted that I made it on merit. There's no questions about why I'm here. I played the golf to get in the team, and that makes for good confidence and belief that I should be here, and it's the most important thing for me, really; that I'm here for a reason.

Q. Do you remember any details at all from your last match, your last competition in The Ryder Cup?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, I remember a lot from that. We went into that Ryder Cup in 2002 very much underdogs with the team we had. We had a fantastic captain that had a strong belief in us. You know, those matches I played there, certainly the first morning with Darren against Tiger and Azinger, was a special moment. It was a great match and we were fortunate to win it. Went out in the singles and played Stewart Cink, and it was maybe not the best of matches, but it was ever hard-fought. And we won that Ryder Cup. I still think to the day, it was probably The Ryder Cup that's one of the biggest surprises that we won, when we look at how the two teams were set up. It came down to what we believe in. We believe in each other, 12 becomes one, and I think that's the importance of The European Team; that we have a strong belief in each other. We stand by each other all the way through the week, and you know, and we have that camaraderie throughout the year that's done us good when we've come in here. We believe in having fun and keeping it light, and we never underestimate what we're up against. We know what the opponent is capable of, and so we believe that if we stick together, we can deliver a result, and we've been successful in doing that. But any Ryder Cup is different, and we know this week that we're up against somebody that are extremely strong. It's a great American Team, and we know we have to play our best to win.

Q. You've touched on this already about how good a team this is. There's been some great European Ryder Cup teams in recent times. What is it about this one that maybe makes it stand out, and because this team is seen as being so good, does that bring an added expectation or pressure going into this competition?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, what makes a great team great is you just have to look at the World Rankings. You can start at the top and kind of work your way down and you get to European names very quickly. That's what makes the team great. We know what the top part of our team have done in the world of golf over the last few years. So that's what makes a team great. Expectations, talk about slight favourites; I don't really -- we embrace that that's how far The European Tour has come and how far European golf has come that we are now looked upon as slight favourites. I think that's a testament to where we worked towards, getting these players right to the top of the game. We embrace that as a team and as a Tour, and we are quite proud of that. I think as a team that we go into this with that behind us. A lot of times it's nice to be underdogs, but I'd rather go into anything being a favourite. That's the way I see it. That means that people believe we have a strong team, and if we can play the golf that we can, well, then we've got a good chance of winning. But as I said before, we also know exactly what we're up against. When you start breaking down the 12 names on the other side, there's 12 fantastic golfers on that side, and we know what they can do and we know how hungry they are to win it. So we've still got to be on top of our game. We have to go in and play hard and believe in each other, and that's what we're going to do.

Q. Just wondering, given your experience, both as a player but more recently as a vice captain, how does it sort of work in the team room? Are you in Mr. McGinley's ear or do you sit back and nod quietly?
THOMAS BJÖRN: I'm very well aware of what my role is this week and it's on the golf course. Obviously the last couple of times, you come in and you're concentrating about 12 guys and getting them to do the best and getting information out of them. Now, just concentrating on myself. We stick together in the team room and on the golf course, but to deliver on the golf course, you just have to focus on your own stuff. That's a conversation that I had with Paul over the last couple of months is that's my role this week, concentrate on being me and playing the golf that I can play, and not really worry too much about everything else and leave that to the people that are the captain and vice captains to concentrate about. My role is to play golf this week. That's probably my biggest worry coming in here; that that was going to be a harder task for me, to be concentrating on that, but you know, so far, so good. I don't feel like I get involved too much and I leave decisions to Paul, and that's his job.

Q. Have you been out on the first tee, you can see on the back stand, the huge quote from Seve. How appropriate do you think that is, that he's part of this? And what effect do you think that has on guys, because of all that pressure and expectation, looking at that before they play their first shot?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Seve lives with us. He lives with The Ryder Cup more than anything, but he lives with us as a team. He's a huge inspiration to this team and he always will be. For us as a Tour and as players, he is the most inspirational guy that's ever been, and fortunately I was lucky enough to play with him and be around him when he played. You couldn't have a man that stood for more of what European golf is all about. He will live with us forever. You know, there are quotes, there are pictures of him around, but that's because he deserves to be there. He deserves to be that person that inspires this team and inspires every golfer around the world. When you start going around the golf course and seeing pictures of him and quotes of him, you know, it's not only about the 24 guys playing golf this week. It's about the game of golf, as well, and what he meant to this game. So Seve is everything to European golf, and we will for always remember that. He was a great man and I was fortunate to have him as a captain. I'll still look back at it as some of the best days of my life to get close to a man that was that great for this game.

Q. 19 months ago in Abu Dhabi, you were the man that announced Paul McGinley would be European captain. Is there anything in particular in the journey to get here that you've seen that's going to prove that to be the right decision?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Absolutely. Paul deserved to be captain. The players wanted him as captain. If you go through this team, everybody thinks he's been a great captain so far. For us, it was important to have a captain that knew what the Tour was about. The role is obviously very important this week, but it's a two-year period where you're the face of The European Tour. We believed that Paul could be that guy, and as we look so far, he's been brilliant for the Tour. There's a lot of things that ride on The Ryder Cup, not just the week itself, but what the Tour is all about. So he has been a great choice. We believe in him. We believed he would be a strong captain. Paul is very factual and to the point with everything he does, and we believe that's going to stand us good. He believes in us and we believe in him, and that's all we can do. You know, there's two teams out there that wants to win, and somebody's going to win and somebody's going to lose and time will tell. But we believe that he's done a great job so far, and the way he is around the players, you know, he makes everybody feel great about themselves. I think we all believe that he's done a good job.

Q. Has he put his own stamp on the job already, do you feel?
THOMAS BJÖRN: He's different, Paul, in the way that he is so factual and that he's so much into the stats of how things are done, and that makes a different feel. It's not emotional talks. It's, this is your role, this is what I want from you, and it becomes -- he's very much a team man, and I think he understands the thing about team where other captains have been very much focusing on the individual, but Paul very much focuses on the team and what every person can deliver to a team. I think that's good. It's certainly good for the rookies to understand what their role is this week. They will go into this feeling comfortable with what they have to do. Everybody will be nervous. But that's part and parcel of it, and that's what makes it so great. But, you know, he has that thing that he doesn't get over emotional, Paul. He just stays with the facts and delivers them to you. Then we're very much in the 12 guys have to be one this week and we stand together.

Q. How well do you know Victor Dubuisson and can you tell us what he's really like and how he's been in the team room so far?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Does anybody really know Victor? (Laughter). Victor, I mean, he's brilliant. We brought him out and played that EurAsia Cup, as well, and in the team room, he's a good, fun guy and probably a little bit more open than people think he is. He's a good guy, and you know, we've got three rookies in this team, but two of them, they are 38 and 39, and they played their first year of golf around the world. You wouldn't think too much of that. They will stand up. Victor is the young guy that comes on this team, but you have got to start somewhere. Those comments were made last night; everybody has been a rookie once, and rookies tend to do good in The Ryder Cup when you look it over time. I actually have a funny feeling that this guy might just stand up and be a great hero by the end of this week.

Q. When the wildcards were announced, nobody complained about them. Do you think the fact that there's so much confidence in them, it's going to make life easier; that they are not under the same pressure that they might otherwise have been?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Pressure is always great in this. It's the ultimate pressure in this game, and you know, we got a couple of guys of our wildcards that were -- I mean, both of them have got fantastic Ryder Cup records in Lee and Ian. Those are guys that you would want here and they know what it's all about. But more important that they are both leaders off the golf course. They are right at the front in the team room. They are important to everything we try and do. They understand everything that's going to happen this week and they both love playing in it, and that was important. When some guy misses a team by one shot, then it's pretty difficult to see your way around it. I think being Scottish, the age he's at, Stevie, it just fits the bill perfect. I think there was no surprises for players. There's no surprises, I think, from the media. I think everybody was happy. We knew that it was going to be a tough decision for Paul to make because the couple of guys that were very close that missed out have been fantastic in the last few Ryder Cups, both like Francesco and Luke. But I think you can only make the decision that you make, and when you've got to choose three from five or six, you know, it's a difficult decision. But he chose people that he believes in, and when we're here, we all believe in each other. That's the important thing. You can't pick everybody, and it was a tough decision to make. But this team, I think when you start looking at it and breaking it down, as a group, it's one of the best I've ever seen.

STEVE TODD: Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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