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October 2, 2004

Thomas Bjorn


RODDY WILLIAMS: Okay, Thomas, thank you very much for joining us. Very well played today, 13-under par and an important day for you no doubt.

THOMAS BJORN: Yeah, very important for me. I mean, there's a very big difference in playing golf on Thursday and Friday and then what you have to do on Saturdays. The first couple of days you go out and just are kind of wandering around and playing golf and trying to do your things, the things you've been working on. Today is all about getting yourself in position and getting yourself right in the mix of things.

I'm very happy with what I did today. I got out there, felt comfortable from the 1st hole, and birdieing 1 and 2 sent me into the round. I played some good golf. There was a couple of iffy shots in there, but I guess that's to be expected when the weather is like this.

I just got through the round without a bogey, and that's a very good indicator for me of where my golf is right now. To go out on a fairly tough day and shoot a good number and don't make any bogeys, I mean, I couldn't do that a week ago (laughter). So I'm very happy with what I'm doing right now.

It's been a good week so far, but I also know that I have a very big day ahead of me tomorrow. I look at the leaderboard when I come in here now, these are guys that are there every week, and it's been a long time since I've been there. There was a moment in time when I was there every week, but it's been a while. I haven't had a Top-10 finish since February.

I'm very well aware that tomorrow is a big day for me, but nobody can take away the first three days from me, and my golf is certainly going in my direction at the moment. I'm going to go out and try and enjoy this tomorrow, because when you go through a hard time, this is where you want to be. This is all you're thinking about, "When am I ever going to get back in this situation." Now I am back in that situation, now it's a question of enjoying being in that situation, because this is what I've been working so hard to get back to, and just go out and try and enjoy tomorrow and see what the day brings.

Q. Whatever happens tomorrow, do you think you've turned a corner just because you've given yourself this chance?

THOMAS BJORN: Yeah, I've turned a big corner in my golf, that's for sure. The golf has been very, very, very good this week. I have stretches now where I probably have played some of the best golf that I've ever played. The first seven holes today, without even looking, I mean, I'm 6- or 7-under par. I miss a couple of short putts and I'm 4-under, but the golf was just brilliant in the first seven holes.

Then I come into a stretch on 8 and 9 where I hit a couple of loose shots. That's the way golf is sometimes.

Then I get a stretch on the back nine where I hit a lot of good shots.

Where my golf is, I'm giving myself so many opportunities to shoot a good number that, yes, I have turned a corner, because a month ago when I stood in the fairway with a 7-iron in my hand, my worry was how to get it on the green, and now I see one thing, flag only. That's a big corner to turn. I know where the ball starts now. I have a very good indication of what are the right things that I need to do.

I found some keys in my golf swing and I'm going to stick with that. Vijay said when he was about 32 years old, "I'm going to work on this for ten years and we'll see how good I can be in ten years." And I think I've found the keys in my golf swing now, to just work on that and not work on anything else, not trying to find something, because this golf is good enough. There's no doubt about this.

I've always known that my good golf was good enough, but when you're having a hard time, it's very difficult to see yourself getting back to somewhat good golf, but this is good enough.

Q. Big difference from last time you played in Ireland, too.

THOMAS BJORN: Massive difference.

Q. What were the demons in your head that you talked about?

THOMAS BJORN: It's the same. You stand over a golf ball and, I mean, a green that's 30 meters by 30 meters looked like the smallest thing in the world, and now all you see is the flagstick. That's the things that players go through.

The thing about me is, I've always known that I can't -- I don't feel I can go down a road where I lose it completely, because I believe my basics in my golf swing are too good. When I look at the basics in my golf swing I always feel, well, I have to turn a corner eventually because I think the basic golf swing is good enough.

I never felt like I was never going to get back to anything good. This has been a long stretch. I've always gone up and down in my golf. I've never been the guy that just sits right there on top of the world all the time, but this time it's been a little bit longer. There's been a lot of things going on in the head and you start doubting yourself, there's no doubt. Then you play three or four good holes and then all of a sudden you just hit this shot out of the blue that goes 80 yards off line and it knocks you all the time. Then what do you do? It's very easy as a professional sportsman to think about the negatives in those situations.

Now I can take positives away from it, and there's more positives than negatives. That's what I need to build on. When I stand on the driving range I see good things, I see the good shots, and when I get out on the golf course, those shots that I see and feel on the driving range come off on the golf course. That's the way you play good golf.

You don't play good golf by working on things and then you don't feel those things when you're out on the golf course. You need to work on things on the range, and then when you get out there, you need to have the exact same things happening to you on the golf course as on the driving range.

Q. Would you have been amazed even a week ago if somebody said you'd be in this position?

THOMAS BJORN: You know, I thought I played really well. I know I missed the cut, but I thought I played pretty well. I had 72 putts for the week, and I was very, very tired coming back from America. But I felt there was a lot of good things happening in my golf.

Yeah, if you had said to me after three rounds you'd be 13-under par lying 2nd, two shots after Ernie Els, I would have probably been a bit surprised. But I didn't come here thinking, "Oh, I just need to get myself playing golf." I felt I could come here and actually put in a good performance, and that's the performance I'm putting in. It's good. It might be just a slight little bit better than I expected, but I didn't come here to finish 25th. I came here thinking that I had a chance of pulling off a good result.

Q. Do you feel that your game and your confidence is sufficiently restored for you to actually win?

THOMAS BJORN: Yes. The way I played these three days, if I can play like that tomorrow, I'll be very hard to beat. But I need to play like I did these three days. It's as simple as that. I have no illusions. I can see the leaderboard right there. I mean, you've got good players on that leaderboard, and they consistently win golf tournaments. You've got major champions, a long line of them, and you've got Padraig, which is our probably best player in Europe, you've got David Howell with good success in the Ryder Cup and Sergio. I have no illusions about who's around me, great players, and the guy that goes out and plays the absolute best golf tomorrow wins this golf tournament.

Q. Was watching the Ryder Cup at such close quarters part of your recovery? Was that an inspiration for you?

THOMAS BJORN: I mean, I thought I was slowly on the way back coming into the Ryder Cup. There's no doubt that -- I mean, I said that the other day. I said being on a golf course enjoying myself is something I hadn't done for quite a while, and no matter how you put it, if you're European and you go through that and you're working so close with them, you're going to enjoy yourself. It's as simple as that.

I know what those guys went through, and when you come in -- you never really know what's going to happen, and you always get thrown at you that "Are you good enough? Can you beat these guys?" They've got a lot of great players. "Can you beat them?" Well, we did beat them, and being part of that whole scenario, the pressure that's building up the whole week leading up to it through the three days is enormous on the 12 guys, but it's also enormous on all the people that are with them all the time.

We had a very, very good time in Detroit and we had a very good time from Tuesday onwards. It wasn't just a question of it turned great when we started playing golf and winning the Ryder Cup. We had a great week from the day we set foot in Detroit. I mean, everybody was in a great mood, everybody was playing well and had just a very, very good time.

If the Ryder Cup was like that every time, it would be great. Normally you get in there and you've got four or five guys that are not playing their best golf and they're struggling a little bit and the mood just becomes very difficult to find a balance in everything, but this was the easiest thing in the world because you had 12 guys that were ready from the day they got there.

Being a part of all that was very, very important to me because I enjoyed being on a golf course. Enjoying it may be the wrong word, but I've just been so much focused on how I've worked to get myself back to where I can actually enjoy it a little bit, and this is what it's about.

I said before, I haven't been in a situation since February where I could win a golf tournament. I also know I'm too good a player to not be in a situation to win golf tournaments more often than that. But this is nice. I mean, it's nice to be in this situation now, go out and play golf tomorrow, but it needs to be some serious golf played to beat these guys, as I said before.

Q. You're not using any of those tees with the score on it, are you?

THOMAS BJORN: No, I've seen them around. No, I'm not using any of those. I think that would be just a little bit too much of an insult.

I can see the joke part of it, but to me, I've always said I've got maybe better friends on the American team in some of the players than the European team, and no matter what goes on that week, we want to win, America wants to win, but we're all friends, and when it's over, it's over, and we get back to trying to beat each other, but you've got to be very careful because there's a fine line between joking around and just stepping over that line, and these golf tees are just balancing on that line, I think.

Q. You are very close friends with a lot of the players. Can you name some of them?

THOMAS BJORN: I have good relationships with a lot of the players. If you start coming down to good friends -- I have a couple of players that I'm good friends with, but I feel I have a good relationship with pretty much every single player out there. There's no player that I don't get on with.

I'm a very strong believer that's why Bernhard asked me to go to America because I know some of these guys very, very well. I know what they're thinking and I know what they're saying. When you've got 12 players together, what is said and what people actually really are thinking, there's a big difference. I think I know some of them probably better than most, and I could give him a lot of information about players that they didn't say themselves and that he didn't know.

I mean, I have a lot of good friends out there. They span the PGA TOUR, South Africans, Australians, and over on this Tour. I pretty much try and stay out of harm's way. I got in harm's way a couple times with a couple of players.

And then there's also a question of sitting down and talking about it. When you look at the scenarios that I've gone through -- I said some things that were misunderstood by some people and then -- on Tiger. In fact, in 2000 -- it was after Valhalla, and that blew up in my face without me doing anything, and I sat down and talked to Tiger and I said, "This is what happened." I had the thing with me and Monty, but we got on fantastic at the Ryder Cup. We got on, on and off the golf course.

There's things said once in a while that you've got to be a little bit careful with what you say and how you put things, but the thing about me is if I have a confrontation with a player, I will always go in his face and say, "This is what I think and this is what I said," and then you sort it out. I'm not going to say these are my friends because I'll leave some out, and I'm not willing to do that.

RODDY WILLIAMS: Thomas, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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