October 15, 2003
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much for coming in. You can see they are all dressed beautifully for you, so we'll get underway.
THOMAS BJORN: It's nice to be here. It's home, and I'm trying to find a way to start playing this golf course a little bit better than I've done in the past. Now I'm just -- it's one of those tournaments where you come in here and you know you've done something right to be here. I think tomorrow's match with Len Mattiace is one of those that we probably both feel like we should be here but we should be here under different circumstances. We should probably be here as major champions.
But that's life and that's golf and that's why you get up again the next day and keep playing the games to do things better.
This is one of those tournaments you want to be a part of. It's a great history. Pretty much all of the best players in the world have won this golf tournament. You come out here today and you see some great players playing in the Pro-Am, because they are past champions of this tournament. It's a special event and it's a special year for the tournament as well, with Mark not being here, and that's obviously -- it was his baby and it was special for him. But I'm quite sure that the sponsors and also IMG is carrying this tournament on in his name and doing all of the right things to make it work.
But it's a different feeling yesterday and I'm sure it will be a different feeling tonight for the players to go to the dinner without Mark, but hopefully we can carry it on in his name and do something big for the tournament.
Q. Have you spoken to Len this week?
THOMAS BJORN: I spoke to him last night, but you know what it's like. You get down to it and most players are good friends off the golf course and speak, but when you come into match-play week, it's a bit different. You do your things and stick your head down and try and prepare yourself as good as you can. The golf course is playing a bit more different than it's normally been at this time of the year, but it's in good condition.
THOMAS BJORN: I like the golf course. I think it's a great golf course. I just can't seem to get my way around it. I think my best finish in the PGA is fifth one year but other than that I have never played well from the PGA and I have not done too well in this tournament either. I like the golf course, I just struggle a bit, I don't know why. I always said that if you're a good player, you can play any course if you're on form. I've put so much into being on form come April, March April and I put a lot into being in good form in July as well, so I just really have fitted haven't fitted the tournaments that play at Wentworth into my schedule. I never play well in May and I never play well at this time of the year. It doesn't fit in well with how I do my season. Also, I would like to play a few more rounds of golf around here when I am at home and just try to learn the golf course a bit better.
THOMAS BJORN: I think you should believe that you could peak every week. But in realistic terms, you probably peak really with your game a couple of times throughout the season where you go anything between two and five weeks where you play really well and then you go into a lull and then you come back at some other stage in the season. So you maybe have eight to ten weeks in a year where you're playing your best golf and the rest of it is a bit.
THOMAS BJORN: Well, I think -- I would like to think that it would be like that, but I mean it's difficult. It's different. Obviously not having any British players here. But the rules were set down for this tournament at the start of the year and everybody knew how to get here. Everybody knew how to get here. The guys that are not here that you could argue should be here, they have some high goals for themselves in the major championships and if they achieve those goals, they would be here. It's as simple as that.
And there's just no way around it. There's no reason, when you've got set rules like this, there's no reason to argue that you should be there or not. You earn your right to be here and it's as simple as that.
THOMAS BJORN: I think the first, it's taken the rules are set down for who is going to be here. You would like to see the 12 best players in the major championships being here. This year it's not the case. A couple of guys have stayed away and some other have commitments, some choose not to play and choose to play in America. I think with the way world golf is now, that's always going to be the case. Some people are going to choose to play in other places. But the only thing that you can do with a tournament like this is try to make this tournament as good as possible with the players that you have here.
I think everything this week so far looks like everything is going in the right direction, and you do have some wonderful players here. You've got to remember that this tournament without Ernie Els these days is not the tournament it should be. He has dominated this tournament. He chooses always to play it. And that's the type of guys you want here. He's done wonderful for this golf tournament over the last few years, and that's what you need.
The guys that stay away, yeah, you would like to have Tiger here, obviously. Any time you have a golf tournament you would like him to play but Tiger can't play every golf tournament. But he's chosen -- he had other commitments, he said, and that's as simple as that. He will come one day and play it again, but until he comes and plays it again, you'll have to do with the players that are here and make the best of that.
I think HSBC and IMG has done really well to make this tournament happen in the way that it's going on now. If they choose to extend the field to more players or to stay like this, well, there's an option; do you want to have 16 players playing in this or do you want to have even more players? There's options all the time to change it a little bit, maybe make it a little bit different, but that's not for me to make those decisions. That's for the people that sponsors the tournament and organizes the tournament and makes the decision.
THOMAS BJORN: I think the way golf has gone, with the prize funds there are all over the world now, that would always be the case. There will all be tournaments that are big tournaments where people choose not to play. And you can't -- there's no way around it when you've got -- when you don't have one world tour where all of the best players play together at the same tournament every week. And you're always going to have arguments: Why this guy is not playing here and why they are not playing there. That will always be the case in this game, and I don't think you -- I don't think you want to go down that track and say, why is Tiger, Furyk and Love that are not here this week. No, they are not here. Well, they have chosen other things. And they have that option because they are professional golfers and they have chosen things that lies at home.
And, you know where the game has gone now. We travel a lot and sometimes you get to a part of the season where you just feel like, I don't really want to travel that much, so I'm going to stay closer to home, and that's what they have chosen to do.
You can't really blame them. But you can just try and make this tournament as good as you can with the players that are here. You can't force people to show up.
The thing for them; it doesn't matter if the first prize was 2 million pounds. They probably wouldn't come anyway. It's not a question of money. It's a question of making it comfortable for themselves. I don't think it's a question of money. If you look at what those three has made this season, I don't think they worry too much about their cash.
THOMAS BJORN: I think professional sports in general are like that at the moment. We get a lot of people paid to do what we do and some people think too much money. Every person has the right to think what they want about the way professional athletes make their money. I've always said the prize money on the PGA TOUR and the European Tour is where they are because the sponsors are willing to pay the money. They can turn it down and say, no, we don't want to pay that kind of money and then the tournaments won't happen.
We have no -- we don't put the demands like that; this is what we want to play for. If we play for half the prize money, the European Tour will still exist and if we play for double, it will still exist. We go out and play. And we believe as a tour that we have are a good value for money and our sponsors do as well, otherwise we wouldn't have as strong a tour as we have.
THOMAS BJORN: Money has never been a motivation. I don't think it is for a lot of players. I think we go out playing a game that we really, really enjoy playing, and winning trophies is the first thing on your mind. I mean, I don't think, whatever money I won at the British Open was the first thing on my mind, and I had a good paycheck that week. Getting a trophy in my hand was all that mattered.
Obviously it grows and your ambition grows. You play tournaments where these are the trophies you want to win and that's what you want to achieve. If you only played it for the money, I would play more golf in America than I do.
THOMAS BJORN: No, it's gone. I don't think about it much. Obviously I get reminded about it a lot but I don't really -- I put it down to more experience. I know a lot more things about myself which I've said many times and I don't really think too much of it. That's what happened and that's what I've got to live with and there's only one thing I can do and that's try as hard as I can to win a major championship. I can't live in the past and that's sometimes easier said than done, but I think I've gotten through it quite well. I feel comfortable about my golf. I'm feeling comfortable about my future in golf. I don't really -- I put this down to not only that but I had -- it's been a season of near misses. I've always been good at winning them, and this year I haven't been good at winning the tournaments, and hopefully that will come back to me.
THOMAS BJORN: It's a fact of life, I know. You can't try and hide from it. I'm quite happy with people asking me questions about it, and how I've felt and we've been through that before, how I've felt about it. But it's there. I must say, I know I've been there in a situation where I had the biggest chance of my life to win a major championship so far. I still don't feel like there's much wrong. I don't feel like did I much wrong. It was a yard or two and that's the name of the game and that's the way the game is played and you've got to live with that.
So I don't really spend too much time worrying if I've got what it takes because I certainly know that I've got the game.
THOMAS BJORN: I think they are better having firm rules for this tournament. That's my opinion. There's been so many arguments in the past and whenever you introduce wild cards to limited field you are creating a problem for yourself in why are you inviting him and not him. It's as simple as that.
THOMAS BJORN: That's the way you look at it, failure- -- I would like to be judged for my golf career when my golf career is finished and not halfway through it. My golf career, I would expect -- I would feel it would be a failure, with the things I have done in golf if I had not won a major championship in a lot of ways. I would still live a very good life and be very happy with my golf career if I didn't win a major, but I would still feel somewhere that something that should have come my way didn't come my way.
But failure, I mean, for me failure is that I wasted my time for 20, 30, 40 years and I certainly don't think I wasted my time doing what I'm doing. It comes some people's way and some people get it thrown right to them, and some people have to work very, very hard to get it. We have in Europe the finest player not to win a major championship and there's no doubt in my mind that Monty deserved to win a major championship but he has not won one. Some people has to work very hard for it and some people don't ever achieve it and there's been a lot of players out there that should have won major championships and some that should have won 15, 20 major championships and only won a few.
You've just got to say, you've got to work very hard to get it. And some people just step on the first tee in a first major championship and wins it. Figure that one out.
THOMAS BJORN: No. I wouldn't think it would be failure to have a situation like that, no.
Q. Will you play more in America?
THOMAS BJORN: A little bit more. I'm going to take up membership of both tours next year. I am going to play my 15 tournaments in America.
I'm going to a stage in my career where I feel that I spend too much time early in the season on the airplane. When you sit down and look at the schedule in America you can play five weeks on the West Coast where you don't get on an airplane and you can play five, six, seven weeks on the Florida Swing all through Hilton Head where you don't have to get on an airplane. And I think the way I look the number of injuries I had, I think it has a lot to do with the way I travel early in the season. I put a lot of strain on myself.
So, yeah I'm going to play a little bit more in America early on, but pretty much from first of May, I'm playing a normal schedule that I always play.
THOMAS BJORN: You've got to take some chances. And this golf course is a very demanding golf course when you play stroke-play here and you have to have a very strict game plan on this golf course. You can go away from your game plan a little bit when you play match-play around here. You see people using different clubs off a lot of tees. Just to take a few chances -- it always seems to hold up against players, even though everything has gotten better. It still seems to put up a very strong test and I'm sure it will do this week as well. You you've got to be just a little bit careful, but match-play you've got to take some chances.
THOMAS BJORN: Winning any golf tournament at this stage would obviously mean a lot to me. Because I feel like I've done a lot of good things is this year and I haven't won. I'm like the next guy, who always tees it up to win.
Yeah, it would give me some pressure in that sense but it won't cover the things that I've gone through this year, and if I won rest of the golf tournaments I was playing this year, it wouldn't because there are no majors left. I still feel like I'm going to tee it up this week to try and win. And if I win I would live in that moment and be very happy of that and be very proud of that. There's one thing about this golf tournament, I think anybody that plays the game and especially Europeans that have played the game on the highest level would love to win this golf tournament.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thomas, many thanks and good luck this week.
End of FastScripts.