home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 23, 2005

Thomas Bjorn


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thomas Bjorn , thank you for joining us. You just had a long trip back from China, but here at THE PLAYERS Championship. If you could start with some opening comments. You were able to play, I believe, nine holes this morning. Maybe you could make some comments about the golf course and also about the state of your game right now.

THOMAS BJORN: Well, starting with the golf course, I mean, it's the same thing every year when you get here. It's pretty much as good as it gets. The course looks fantastic. It's obviously a little bit wet after last night, but we also know that this golf course takes it very well, and it will be up and running and the weather forecast is not the greatest this week. We'll have a few interruptions of play, but just get your patience hat on, and I think this Tour this year has pretty much been through that every week, and there's been a lot of rain delays, and everybody seems to just cope with it very well and you've just got to be patient in a week like this and pace yourself a little bit because you're going to look at some long days.

But the course is good. It's the same old things. You've got to make your way around a difficult golf course, a tricky golf course, but it's certainly very scoreable at the moment with the way the weather conditions are.

Going to me, I mean, I played a lot of golf this year. I've been around the world a few times, and I've still got a few more times to go. I've been playing all right. I feel like every time I tee it up, I feel like my game is good enough to get myself right in there. I got four Top 5 finishes on the European tournaments this year, so from that perspective, I mean, it's very good, but this is when it starts. Now the tournaments get big and this is when you want to be on form.

But I played well last week, just came up one short, and that was pretty much it.

Q. What were your general impressions of China since most of us will never be there? We hear all this about it being kind of an emerging place for golf. I have kind of trouble getting my head around the fact that I don't know where the players are going to come from over there since it's still kind of an economically developing country.

THOMAS BJORN: Well, since there's one billion people I'm sure they've got a few to choose from. You have to say that when you go to China the first time, you're not really sure what you're going to go into. I've been a few times now. It's as good as it comes in Asia. It's really developing fast.

The golf courses are fantastic. I mean, they're all new, that's the good thing, and they've all got good golf course designers with them. They've got a lot of good golf courses, very good complexes and in general great hotels, great facilities. You won't understand until you go there how much it's actually growing and how big the interest is.

The future of -- I mean, the future of world golf lies in Asia, I think. It's going to grow very much. We see it on the ladies' Tour. There's so many Asian girls out there, and it's picking up in the men's world, as well. There's a lot of Asian guys out, and it will keep growing. I think that Asia has a massive future in golf, especially China. I think both the European Tour and also the PGA TOUR will do well for themselves if they start to look to that part of the world and see the development and follow the development and maybe even go there and play tournaments.

Q. Are they mainly resort courses or country clubs or --

THOMAS BJORN: Mainly resort courses.

Q. A lot has been made about the, quote-unquote, Big 4. If you want to throw Retief in, five. Here Tiger and Phil dueling it out at Doral. I just wonder what your impression of that grouping is. Was it kind of fun to be a part of the game when there's that kind of rivalry going on?

THOMAS BJORN: I would like to throw Harrington in there, to be honest. Being European, I think he's very much overlooked in the whole thing of it. You've got six guys in the world that every time they tee it up at the moment they finish Top 5. You've got to say that -- I can't remember a time when golf was in this position, where you've got that many guys right at the top of the World Rankings and playing consistently well going into the big start of the year.

Looking from the outside in at it, I mean, it's obviously fun to watch, and I think you know that most players out here rarely watch golf, but on the odd occasion you have to watch golf. Doral was a special moment for golf, so you end up sitting there watching these things.

But it also raises the game of everybody else, I think, watching them. When you go back to 2000, 2001, everybody thought, well, Tiger is so much ahead and it's very difficult to get to that level. But now there's five or six of them playing at that level. So it brings along everybody with them to say, hey, here are five or six guys playing that consistently, why shouldn't I be able to do it. The level of the game raises all the time. I think all the players out here feel like we can all go to that level.

It's good fun to watch. It's interesting for the game. It's healthy for the game. I think it's very healthy that we've got so many good players. If you look at all of them, it's down to hard work from all of them. There's no secrets to what they've done, they've just worked hard at their games and that's how they become that good.

Q. You've had your duals with Tiger back in that time you just talked about, and Adam Scott was addressing yesterday, the question to him was whether Tiger has dropped back a little bit or whether guys have elevated and caught up to him a bit. It would seem by what you're saying that it's the latter of the two.

THOMAS BJORN: Oh, definitely. I don't think there's anything in Tiger's game that is worse today than it was at that time. I just think it's just guys that realize that they can play to a level that they actually at that time didn't think that they could, and that's the way golf has gone.

It's good fun to watch. I mean, I think Vijay and Ernie and Phil, especially, have done something with their own games to just raise it another notch, and I think there's so many other players that now realize, hang on a second, if they can do it, maybe there's a chance for everybody to do it. But there's only one way to do it, and that's work very hard.

Q. Can you look at these next three weeks as really the most important stretch of the year with these two tournaments, The Masters and THE PLAYERS, or is it just a succession of tournaments for you?

THOMAS BJORN: I think there's so much important golf to be played in the world of golf these days that it's very difficult to take out stretches that are more important than others. We're in a time now where, yeah, these are two of the biggest tournaments in the year, but then we run into June where you've got the U.S. Open and then the British Open and then some World Golf Championships coming up and the PGA. It's just constant now with big tournaments.

People focus so much on World Rankings and what they want to achieve in the World Rankings and every week is so important at the moment, it's not only important to play well certain specific weeks in the year, it's a question of playing well all the time. I also think that's where the guys at the top of the World Rankings stand now. They don't play well four or five times a year, they play well every week. That's why they're so far ahead. I think everybody is now starting to look to play well every week and not just pick out certain times of the year where they want to play well.

Q. We were talking about the Big 4, Tiger and Ernie, Vijay, Phil and even throwing in Retief. Out of that whole group, they've got one win here at this golf course and only four Top 5s. Do you see anything when you look at this golf course that would effectively exclude those guys from being in contention, because they seemingly -- you just look at what's been going on in the Florida Swing, it's been those guys trading places every week trying to knock each other's teeth out.

THOMAS BJORN: Well, I'd imagine that they'll all have a chance any week they tee it up. When you look at them, the way they play, anywhere they go, they look very strong going into it. There is no specific reason for it. You could say that they're all long hitters, so is this a long-hitters' golf course. You've got Adam and Davis winning here, David Duval winning here, so it is a long hitters' golf course. You've got to take advantage of the par 5s on this golf course. There's no way around that.

I think it's more coincidence than anything. I think THE PLAYERS Championship in the past maybe hasn't come at the best time for a lot of players because I think a lot of players are focused on The Masters, and it's very difficult -- beforehand it was very difficult, if you tried to specifically prepare yourself for one week like we did five, six years ago, then I think it was very difficult to play two weeks before The Masters and do well and then also do well in the Masters. But I think that the mind set has changed now that you have to play well every week. That's where I see the biggest change in them, and I think Tiger has changed that in the world of golf. Any time he tees up he is ready to play. He has prepared himself well for any golf tournament he plays in so he plays well.

I think all the others have realized, well, there is no such thing as preparing yourself for one golf tournament specifically. You play well every week you play and you prepare yourself correctly. I think that's the difference, and that's why I think they'll do well this week. I think the best thing that could happen in the world of golf right now is that the four of them were battling it out on Sunday. That's what people want to see. But it's very unlikely it's going to happen that all four of them are in there on Sunday.

Q. From where you were, playing with -- beating Tiger at Dubai and all that stuff, where you were at that point until now, do you feel like you've been left behind a little bit and maybe have a yearning for you to be a part of that top four or five? You seemed to be on that path before.

THOMAS BJORN: Yeah, I think you've got to be very honest with yourself in what you do in your game, and I think it's very difficult to say that you've been left behind. I think at the time around 2000, 2001, I'm pretty much in the same place in the World Rankings now as I was then. So if the level of the game has raised, well then surely in some ways I've raised my game, as well. I haven't raised it to the levels I'd like to raise it to. I haven't raised it to the level I think I can raise it to, and I'm still working very hard at getting better all the time, but I certainly think I'm a better player today than I was in the year 2000.

There's a big gap in world golf today, and I think it's more the mindset than anything. I think the mindset of those players are that they want to play well every week they tee it up and they prepare themselves well. I think you've got to get yourself into that frame of mind.

There is no other -- I can't find another explanation for it. I just think they are very, very well prepared when they play golf tournaments.

Q. How tired are you after all this traveling?

THOMAS BJORN: It takes a couple days to get over that. I had some long trips, and this was probably the worst one, I'd have to say. It's a long way from southern China to Florida, I have to say, and I'm not sure I would do it again.

It was worth for me playing last week. I played well, and I went out there with some confidence.

It's been some hard trips, but I enjoy that. I've always said I enjoy playing all over the world. I enjoy the early part of the season in Europe. I've always done it. I'm not a bad traveler. I don't feel as bad as a lot of people do when I've done the long trips. I've just enjoyed it.

The one thing I always said with my golf is that I want to see the world. I want to go to every corner of the world with the game of golf, and that's one thing I enjoy. A lot of people are not like that, but I enjoy it, and that's the way I like to do it.

Q. There's no cumulative effect.

THOMAS BJORN: No, I don't think so. I get some good stretches at home. I'm going home after this week. I have a nice resting week next week and getting myself ready for The Masters.

I enjoy what I'm doing, and that's the way I find I get the best out of me.

Q. How long were you in the air for this trip?

THOMAS BJORN: The long stretch from Hong Kong to New York was 16 hours.

Q. You talked about players who were now ready to play every week. Do you think maybe Vijay at No. 1 has set that tone more than the other top players?

THOMAS BJORN: As I said before, I think Tiger set that tone. I think the difference between Tiger and Vijay is that Tiger doesn't play as many golf tournaments as Vijay. I think Tiger set that tone. He came out, and he's the type of guy that whenever he tees it up there's only one thing on his mind, and that's to win the golf tournament. He prepares himself the right way for him.

Vijay is a different kind of guy. He likes to play a lot of golf. He likes to practice a lot and that's the way he prepares best. They're all different, all four or six of them or however many of them they are, they all prepare themselves very well. You've got to learn how to do it the best for you. You can't look at them and do it the same way as them because it might not work for you, and that's why Vijay and Tiger are so different. I mean, Vijay plays so many more golf tournaments and he enjoys that, and Tiger likes to just pace himself and get himself ready for the right tournaments.

Q. We had the Thomas Bjorn Open announced yesterday. What was the origin of that?

THOMAS BJORN: I've always said that the Challenge Tour meant more to me than anything, and it was announced yesterday that I put my name to a Challenge Tour event in Europe. I thought it was very important for Danish golf to make sure that that Challenge Tour event stayed on the schedule for young Danish players to give them a chance to come out and play, especially play in their own country, but it also gives them a chance to get invites from some other Challenge Tour events. That's the way I started. I was very fortunate at that time that we had a lot of Challenge Tour events in Europe and in Denmark, and it gave me the chance to come out and play some golf.

I've always wanted to do it but I've also been very well aware that it will take a little bit of my time, but I thought this was my time because the tournament was struggling a little bit to find the finances.

Q. You're going to play in it?

THOMAS BJORN: I'm not going to play in it this year. It's not really the greatest date. It's the week before the U.S. Open, so I'm not going to play in it this year, but we guaranteed it for three years, and very likely I'll play in '06 and I'm definitely going to play in '07.

Q. You changed your equipment sometime in the last year. How is it working out for you?

THOMAS BJORN: It's working very well. I think any time you change equipment, you feel a few reservations because it's always going to take a little bit of time, but I certainly feel like I've continued my golf with my new equipment and I found a golf ball that works better than anything I've ever played with, and that's a big bonus. I always have big reservations about an equipment change, but this has worked out very well for me, and I'm very happy with the support that I've been getting from Callaway, and it's been nice. It's been a nice process.

There's always that feeling of, oh, I've got something new here, and is it going to work for me, but I went straight into it and I've been happy with it. There's always small things in there that has to change, but I'm pretty much settling in on everything. I'm happy with the clubs, I'm happy with my irons, woods, happy with the golf ball, and that's an important thing when you go into tournaments like this, that you feel comfortable with the equipment you've got in your bag.

Q. Are you using the new forged X Tour or Tour X?

THOMAS BJORN: At the moment I'm actually on Hogan irons, but I'm working on the Callaway irons. We have been working hard on it, and it's coming together in the right way. Now it's just a question of a little bit of time for me to -- at home getting completely used to it. I've been very much a blade man all my life, and that takes a little bit of change, but I'm very happy with what I'm seeing when I work with them at home, and now it's just a question of time to bring them out in tournaments.

Q. Which ball are you using?

THOMAS BJORN: I'm playing the new 56. I have to say, that's the best golf ball I've ever played with.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thomas Bjorn, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297