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May 25, 2005

Thomas Bjorn


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, welcome, Thomas, to what is basically a home fixture for you. Ernie was saying yesterday just how much it means to him to be able to work from home. Do you feel the same way, that it's very beneficial?

THOMAS BJORN: I think it's different, that's for sure. I think I've been successful in The Match Play once or twice playing from home. It's been more difficult at the PGA, actually.

I don't know, I'm very much a routine person. I get into my routines when I get out on Tour. I do my things on Tuesday, I do my things on Wednesday; and now all of a sudden you have this other thing that you go home, and the family is sort of nearby and the older one has to get picked up from school and all of the day to day stuff that you normally face when you've got your weeks off. It's a bit different.

I don't really want to say that I think it's a great benefit. I think it's a great benefit for the rest of the season to play maybe once or twice where you're close to home. I don't think it's straining on you mentally when you have a week like this, but I don't know if it benefits the week especially. It's nice to have this week where you're at home and you don't have to travel and you just do your own things. But I think when it comes down to it, it's what you do on the golf course that tells how comfortable you feel any week.

I think Ernie will find that he's also been successful and not successful staying at home. He played really well in The Match Play staying at his house, and I also think that he will find that he might be a disappointed that he has not won the PGA Championship, which I know it's very high on his list.

So you can be successful and you can be staying at home, but it's still a question of preparing yourself correctly. I don't really know if I find any benefit by being at home.

GORDON SIMPSON: Do you have a sense this week of a very big tournament?

THOMAS BJORN: This is our biggest one. There's no two ways about it. This is the one you want to win. This is the one that means a lot to the players. It has such a great history.

It is a big tournament. It's not a major championship, but it's our biggest tournament on the European Tour, and it's a European Tour event. The players that are here are European Tour players; they are not brought in from somewhere else. They are European Tour players, and that's what it's all about. I mean, there's even a couple of European guys that you would say are missing this week, but would you consider them European Tour players when they don't want to play on this championship?

Q. Is there any explanation for the fact that we've had a run of surprise winners?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, I mean, you have to say that this tournament always produced the best of the best. It was the best players at the time that were winning this golf tournament, and all of a sudden we've had we would have to say we've had four surprises in a row. I don't know, is it the equipment; is it the golf course? It might not be made as long as it used to and as difficult as it used to. This is a great golf course and a great test, and the guys that have won this championship have played really, really well. They have shot some really good scores, and the golf course has been set up more difficult the last four years than it ever was before that.

So I just think it's a question that this Tour is not about the seven or eight best players anymore. It's about the whole Tour. Everybody that tees it up in this field can play the game. If you're 50th on the Money List or you're third in the Money List, it doesn't really matter. If you go out and play your best game, you'll get around any golf course, and then it's a question of having it on Sunday.

I just think we've just had a run where we've been surprised and people start talking about the golf course, is it the golf course; is it something wrong with it; is it the equipment has changed. I just think these guys have played well, and they are good players, all of them.

Q. Do you think it's the duty almost, of European Tour players, to support this event?

THOMAS BJORN: I think any European born player should play in this golf tournament. I can't say it any more clearly than that.

Q. Why?

THOMAS BJORN: Because every single European player around the world, the European Tour has done a lot for them in their golf careers. And for them one week a year to come back and play this golf tournament should be their duty, because the European Tour has done more for them than they think.

Q. Is that a widespread feeling in the locker room?

THOMAS BJORN: I don't know. That's my feeling.

Q. I'm sure you're bored of this Monty issue, but could I ask you a question, Sam Torrance said in the paper, I think it was last week, he was supportive of the idea of reintroducing this retrospective disqualification; the rules have changed for him, or changed after he was disqualified from the Open. I wonder if you had any opinion on that.

THOMAS BJORN: I think it's a difficult one. I think we have to put a lot of trust in our referees. They do a wonderful job every week. The Rules of Golf is not always black and white, and we have to trust our referees to make the best judgment they can do, and sometimes they might not get it completely right because the rules are not black and white.

And sometimes you just have to go with that. I think the specific incidents we had this year, I think we have to look at them, and we have done on the committee, and said, what has happened here and how do we deal with it. And we've talked with Monty and we've talked to the referees and we feel like, you know, we put a lid on this and said this is what happened. This is what we had done, and we don't feel the committee didn't feel there was any more that could be done, and I don't think the Tour feels like there's anything more that can be done.

And to bring back I think whenever a golf tournament is over, it's over. The referees makes decisions. Now, we can't I think it's very difficult to have a situation where somebody wins a golf tournament, and then six months after, they get disqualified. It takes so much away from the golf tournament. This they have broken the rules, yeah, they have broken the rules, but the rules of the tournament close at the end of play on Sunday. You know, when you get a ruling in the game of golf from a referee, if the referee gets it wrong, he might get it wrong. So you've gotten the wrong ruling, but the ruling stands because you asked a referee, and I think it has to be that way. We have to trust our referees who know the rules, but they will get it wrong sometimes. But I still think that the tournament still has to stand on Sunday. I don't think you can disqualify somebody when the tournament is closed.

Q. So you would prefer it to stay the way it is, as opposed to how it used to be?

THOMAS BJORN: Yeah, I think the way it is today, I think it's very good.

GORDON SIMPSON: And how about your own game, Thomas, was that a huge wake up for you to win two weeks ago, now that you've had time to reflect on that victory?

THOMAS BJORN: I'm obviously happy with what happened a couple of weeks ago. I mean, that was it's been a long time coming. And I said it then, you know, it's important for any player to win golf tournaments and know that they have that feeling inside of them and know that they can stand up when they need to and hit good shots, and that was important for me.

You know, I've come close a lot of times over the last couple of years, and it becomes this I mean, Padraig was through it for a long time, this finishing second; Duval was through it a long time finishing second, and it becomes difficult to listen to all of the questions. Because even this week, a lot of guys came up to me and said "welcome back" and all of these things, and I don't really feel like I've been gone. I just haven't won golf tournaments. The guys that finishes second is often the guy that people follow or something because he's the guy that came close. I'd rather finish second in golf tournaments than finish 54th, that's for sure. And being gone is when you don't compete in golf tournaments, but I have competed in a lot of golf tournaments over the last couple of years.

So I don't really feel like I wasn't playing good enough. I just felt like, you know, it was nice to win a golf tournament, and it was nice to stand there and look two guys in the eyes and hit the shots that I had to hit at that given time to do enough, and that's I mean, that's an important thing for any player out here.

I go forward. I always go forward; I don't look at the past. I want to achieve things, and, I mean, the biggest weight on my shoulders will always be, and it always has been before the British Open in 2003, was to win a major championship. I think that's what you want to do, that's what you set out to do, and when you've won golf tournaments like I have, then that's what you're looking at are big golf tournaments. I want to win one of these before my career is over. To win the British Masters is great. It's the one thing that you need to win golf tournaments when you're playing, and when you're out there as much as I am, you also need to start looking at, well, how do I take my career further and to take my career any further is to win a big golf tournament.

Q. What you're saying about the odd ones that haven't turned up, you tell us what you think

THOMAS BJORN: I thought you'd pick up on that.

Q. That's okay. But at committee level, would you actually say anything to them? Nobody would say to these fellows, "You know, we think you should be there?"

THOMAS BJORN: You know, it's any player's right to do whatever they want. They look after their own golf careers and they do whatever they think is best for them. So you can't the Tour can't and the players can't start pressuring them to play. That's their decision.

But this Tour is here, and it's here to stay, and the Tour, we will stick together as a Tour. And you are either a part of it or you're not. It's as simple as that that. If you're part of it, you come here and play. If you don't show any interest, well, don't expect the Tour and the rest of the players that play on this Tour to show any interest in them. It's almost like some players feel like when they come back from America, they need to be treated as even bigger stars as some players on this Tour, and that's not the case. The case is a player that plays on this Tour is a player that needs to be looked after by this Tour. The guys that come back every blue moon and think they can start changing the Tour around, well, we don't need them. The Tour is bigger than any player.

Q. It almost sounds as though without laying it down, you want sanctions against them.

THOMAS BJORN: No, I don't want sanctions against them, no, no. I've always said, I've always said, listen, any player can do whatever they want. It's their given right to go and play wherever they want. People want to go and play in Africa all their life, they can do that. It doesn't matter, they can go and play in South America or wherever they want to go and play, I don't have any problems with that.

Q. But they should not expect favors?

THOMAS BJORN: No, they shouldn't expect favors. And this Tour is about the European Tour; the Ryder Cup Team is about what this Tour has done for the Ryder Cup. Don't expect any favours when it comes to the Ryder Cup, if you can't come back once every year and play in this golf tournament, because this is our biggest golf tournament.

Q. Isn't it the Tour's right then, just as it's a player's right, to say, well if you're not going to come back and play in our flagship event, don't bother?

THOMAS BJORN: No, I just don't think the Tour needs to go down that road. That's a player's players can do whatever. I just think the Tour just needs to say, well, we are not going to make special rules and favours for them to get them to make Ryder Cup teams and get them in our Money List or whatever. They need to come and play in our golf tournaments.

I mean, it's so easy today to be a member of this Tour. I've been there, played in America; I know how easy it is. You need to play four regular European Tour events to be a member. I mean, what else do you want? Do you want to be able to play in America all of your life and still feature on our Money List? Well, you've got to play golf in Europe if you want to be on our Money List, and if you want to be a part of our European Ryder Cup Team, you've got to play golf in Europe.

Q. So if they don't get on the Ryder Cup Team, that's their fault?

THOMAS BJORN: That's their I mean, I would like to see us having the best team every time, but it might not end up being like that for the near future.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thomas, have a great week here.

End of FastScripts.

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