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July 19, 2003

Thomas Bjorn


STEWART McDOUGALL: Thomas Bjorn, the leader in the clubhouse. How did today's round go?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, pretty much as planned, I think. I set out with one thing on my mind and that was to try and hit the middle of the greens, like I did yesterday, and just try and make as many pars as possible, and hopefully a shot or two would go in. And pretty much I succeeded in doing all that. Sometimes it felt a bit awkward hitting sand irons to about 25 feet. But I think on this golf course that's the way you need to sometimes approach it. It's certainly not easy the way that it's getting at the moment. It's hitting very hard. You're getting some really weird bounces at times. So I did all the things that I really wanted to do, and I'm just very happy with the way I performed. I probably haven't played golf tee-to-green as well as I did today for two years, and that's -- I've come a long way with my work with Bob Torrence in the past weeks, and that certainly gives me a good indication for the future. But I'm caught up in a situation where I've been building -- trying to build a golf swing for the future and all of a sudden I'm standing here leading the Open Championship going into Sunday, and I don't think there's much building for the future, this is it.

Q. You've been very calm all week. How are you going to cope tomorrow with all the expectations ever Sunday?

THOMAS BJORN: I don't think all the expectations are on me tomorrow, I think there are a couple of guys around me that people expect to win a major championship constantly. And if you look at it, Sergio is there with a chance to win his first major, and it's been a long time for him. Tiger is there, we know that he's on the trail to go in to his major streaks again. He wants to win these majors, and there's nobody tougher to beat than him. And Davis is out there looking for another one. So there's some big, big names there. And I think all the expectations to win this tournament will be on them. I go in with the lead tomorrow, but I don't know, that's one or two shots ahead of the people that are there. And they can be -- I'm going to go out and enjoy myself tomorrow. I promised myself the next time I got in contention in a major championship, I'm going to enjoy every second of it. And hopefully it will last all the way. If it doesn't, I'm building something for the future. I'm sure if I keep going down this track I'll win a major championship one day.

Q. Is there something about this course that brings out the best in all these good players? The same thing happened the last time they had the Open here ten years ago.

THOMAS BJORN: Well, it's patience. I think good players have patience. They know when they go into majors that you can't force it out there. Tiger is the best at it. When you play a practice round that's all he talks about with major championships, is patience, patience, patience. You can't force it at any time. I've been fortunate to see him both in major championships when he's playing, but also play practice rounds with him and see how he goes about things. And that's the best way to learn, from the best. And that's what I tried to do in the past. Hopefully that can give me a lot of good feelings going into tomorrow, and just try and be patient all day long, and hopefully the putts will drop in for me. And that's the only way to win a major championship, is to hole putts on Sunday.

Q. Can you go through what happened Thursday at 17 with the club in the sand? Was that a bit of pique or just a natural instinct. Talk us through that, if you would.

THOMAS BJORN: I'll tell you exactly what happened. I hit it in that bunker for my third, I think. And I don't think I left a ball in a bunker for about ten years. And I know what I do every time I hit a bad bunker shot, lots of players do that as well, you just kind of check the sand, and why did I not hit a good bunker shot here. That's all I did. I dropped the club down in the sand to check it -- there's a lot more sand in that bunker than I expected. And that's all that happened. It was just a reaction to hitting a poor bunker shot. And unfortunately in that situation I wasn't out of the bunker, and I was probably not thinking clearly at the time. I was playing some of the best golf of my life. I was 2-under, in those conditions, standing on the 17th tee, and then all of a sudden I was looking at a double bogey, at the best, and it turned into a quad with two extra shots. And you have to regroup from there. And probably what saved me in this tournament is I got up-and-down from short of the green on 18. I hit a wonderful chip to about a foot and saved my par and got in the clubhouse and looked at everybody else shooting over par. And that gave me the belief that I was still in the tournament, I could still do well in this tournament. So it was probably fortunate that I didn't make any mistakes coming up 18 and still got myself in the clubhouse with a decent score.

Q. Did you realize right away that you had a two-shot penalty?

THOMAS BJORN: No, I didn't. I actually didn't. I didn't even think about it until I got out of the bunker and there was about six people reminding what I'd done. And there was nothing to do. I walked over to the referee and said this is what I've done, I'll take my two-shot penalty so he knew what was going on and get on it from there.

Q. A couple of years ago you beat Tiger in Dubai head-to-head. Is that a good memory for you tomorrow?

THOMAS BJORN: I think that would be a good memory for everybody. It's a nice feeling to know you can go head-to-head with the guy and do well. This is a major championship. This is different. He's got a few more experiences walking out on the fairways on Sundays in majors. When I went head-to-head with him, I won my share of golf tournaments and I knew how to perform under those circumstances. But going out there tomorrow, there's a couple of guys out there that know how to win majors, I don't. I've come close a couple of times, but I don't know how to win a major championship. But hopefully my game will stand up for itself and be good enough.

Q. How tough was it to stick to that percentage game? If you were standing in the middle of the fairway and looking at the pin thinking -- normally you would think this is a birdie chance. How tough is it to resist that?

THOMAS BJORN: It all comes down to what you want to do, yourself, and having a very, very good caddy on the bag. And he'll certainly help me a lot in the future. But it's very, very important to have somebody that knows exactly how to play this golf course. And fortunately I have somebody that's been around for a long time and been with the best players.

Q. Having played in majors with Tiger before and knowing his hunger for winning major championships, what do you expect out of him tomorrow, is one question. And the second question is, have you led a major before this late and how do you feel you'll handle the pressure tomorrow?

THOMAS BJORN: To take the last question, no, I haven't led a major this late. I was in there with a chance at Valhalla. I was certainly in with a chance last year at the Open. Handling the pressure -- well, I think everybody's under pressure tomorrow. And you can only believe in your golf swing and believe in yourself. There's no shame to go out and not perform every time you're under pressure. We all go through it as professionals and sometimes you handle the pressure well, the game stands up for itself. Sometimes you don't handle it very well, and that's just the nature of this game. And that's why it's such a good game. But while I expect -- well, I expect like everybody else that Tiger is going to go out and play his best game tomorrow and win this golf tournament. That's what he wants to do and we all know when he's in that position he's very, very dangerous. But good thing for me and for everybody else is that there's so many good players around him that all can stand up and play some really, really solid game and also win this golf tournament and put pressure on him. If he gets off to a fast start tomorrow, then it's going to be interesting to see what the reaction is from everybody.

End of FastScripts....

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