March 5, 2003
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
THOMAS BJORN: It's always nice to be here. It's one of my favorite weeks of the year for lots of reasons. I keep a home here. I've had some great results here. I just enjoy this week a lot of, playing on a beautiful golf course. The weather is good. I think all of the players enjoy this week very much. It seems to be the start of the European Tour, really. We have played a lot of tournaments already, but it seems to be so far away that we don't feel close to Europe and this seems to be what we feel the European season really kicks off and kicks off in a very good place.
Q. What are your thoughts on Tiger not being here?
THOMAS BJORN: There's obviously some very good reasons for Tiger not being here. Yeah, it would be nice if he was here. He's got his reasons for not being here, and I think as long as everybody is supportive of what his thoughts are of traveling around the world at the moment -- and he will be back. He'll come back here. He'll travel around the world as he normally does. It's a shame he's not here, but the way the world is at the moment, and being the high-profile player that he is, I think we all can understand why he feels like the rest of us. We always feel a little bit better when we stay close to home and that's just what he's going through at the moment. I can understand why he's not here.
Q. Have many players sought your advice, as a resident here and someone who knows the region, about playing here and next week in Qatar?
THOMAS BJORN: Well, there's about 220 on the European Tour, so I spoke to a lot of players of late. Dubai is a great place to travel to. I have family that's lived here for 25 years. This is one of the safest places on the whole planet to be, and that's the point I'm concerned about. I would not have a problem traveling here at any time. I really feel -- and I think we all feel when we get here, that it's safe, not affected by what's going on anywhere and people get on with their lives. If you look at how much is going on in this place at the moment, they are constructing new things everywhere. So they have a strong belief here that Dubai is going to be a future place for people to travel to, and they keep on going on with their business. It's say safe place to be.
Qatar next week, it's very similar to this place. I wouldn't have any problem going to Qatar -- it's for the European Tour and it's for the people who organize the event to come to the players and show the tournament can go ahead. If the organizers didn't seem completely safe about it -- so the tournament next week, I'm sure that it's very, very safe to go and I would recommend it to go.
Q. What about Monty not playing?
THOMAS BJORN: Monty is making decisions for personal reasons, and I'm not really going to comment on what he should have done and what he shouldn't do. We all as individuals make what we feel is our best way in our golfing lives, and obviously he felt that the best way right now is to play his golf in America. I always say when you commit yourself to a golf tournament, you should not commit yourself to a golf tournament and then pull out just before.
Q. What about facing Ernie this week?
THOMAS BJORN: There's always something happening in the world of golf right now. There's been three players that's been very dominant this year: Tiger, Ernie and Mike Weir. So, the game is actually going -- it's very interesting to step up to that. Ernie has shown some fantastic form early this year and pretty much all the of last season as well. He's very confident -- IÃ‚Â¹ve never seen anybody hit the ball that far and that straight -- so he's difficult to go up against at the moment.
There are a couple of players to watch out for this week somebody that's a good player and a tough player to play against -- I feel that when I'm on my game, I'm one of those. I enjoy almost the impossible things and playing against the best players in the world. I'm going through some major changes in my golf swing and some major changes in my attitude, as well. I know my golf game right now is -- where I can take on the best players in the world. I'll give it my best shot, for sure. I have things to work on, so I'm just taking one day a time at a moment and trying to improve my game.
But I certainly think Ernie is the one to beat, but there are a couple of players that are starting to come into form last week. Darren was actually playing really, really well, but unfortunately against Pete Lonard -- and then Padraig. There are a lot of good players here. Ernie is not the only one to beat but he is certainly by far the favorite.
Q. Talk about your attitude changes --
THOMAS BJORN: A combination between Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood when he was at hit best. I think the attitude of those two players have shown probably the best I've ever seen in the game of golf. Mine at times is not very good. I'm very hard on myself at the moment because I'm not playing at the golf I want to play.
But, it's a long process and I just need to sort of really get down to business and get down to the business of Thomas Bjorn and not everybody else. I really need to focus on my golf, focus on what I want to do off the golf course. It's so difficult to do when you are out there, and that's what I'm going through at the moment. It's really difficult for my to -- to the course. I'm taking good steps all the time. Sometimes I am just a little too hard on myself and I have to take more steps to get back.
I don't feel I'm playing the game at the level I should be playing at. I think especially my World Ranking position at the moment shows that.
Q. You have changed your caddie and still with Pete Cowen?
THOMAS BJORN: I changed my caddie. It was at times very difficult -- the friendship and when it became difficult for us to have that relationship, with a caddie, it's a business relationship. We're still very good friends. We were just too close. We both -- to do our best and I think that we will continue to compete. I think Pete Cowen is one of the best coaches I have ever met. He has some very interesting views. I will continue to work with him. It's not very useful to blame somebody else when you're not playing very well and most often that's the only person to blame. You have to look at yourself and stop blaming everybody else. Players out here will usually do that when they are not playing well.
I'll stick with Pete. I think that the caddie relationship, it just needs to change sometimes because we spend an awful lot of time together.
Q. Was there one moment when you decided you had to change your attitude?
THOMAS BJORN: I played a golf tournament in Australia and after three holes into the golf tournament, it was just a question of getting the next 33 holes over with so I could go home. And I realized if I was going to do that and play golf to the highest level, that was just -- I mean, I couldn't keep on doing that. I had so high expectations of myself every time I went out on the golf course that if it didn't go my way, I would just -- I just didn't want to do that. And that's when I decided that that was -- that had to change, because I would never, ever enjoy playing the game of golf again if I had that attitude on the golf course.
So I need to enjoy this game. We all play our best when we are enjoying being out there, and I was certainly in a place where I didn't enjoy it at all -- just because you have not birdied a few par 5's in a row, then golf is not that much fun.
I'm really working hard on that. I'm trying to keep my attitude and I'm trying to keep my head up, and it's difficult because my game is not where it should be at the moment. And it's difficult to keep all of the time, keep your head up. I have a lot of good people around me at the moment, to give me a kick sometimes. So we'll just keep working and I'll be back at my best very shortly.
Q. Was that a reaction to the Ryder Cup and what it took out of you?
THOMAS BJORN: Last year -- a lot of strange thoughts, the postponement -- it was just a very hard time. I wasn't playing very well. I didn't want to let anybody down. I felt like I needed to play my best. I felt like I needed to play some golf that was -- I needed to be one of the players that was playing my best that week if we had a chance of winning. In the end, I didn't actually play my best, but that's the way I felt. I think when the Ryder Cup was over, I just kind of felt like, thank God it's over with. I mean, it was only September. I played the Dunhill -- there was just no golf left in me. I just wanted it to be over. I got to a point where things were -- just annoyed with everything on the golf course and it was just -- it's happened a couple of times in the last four or five months golfing-wise. But at least it's now turning the other way around and it's starting to go in the right direction. I'm feeling comfortable about myself again. I feel that I would -- I want to be out here and doing the travelling and I'm looking forward to it. I was looking forward to this week. That's one of the important things, I wanted to come out here.
Q. Are you working with anybody to improve your attitude?
THOMAS BJORN: I spent nine holes today with Jos, who has obviously had great success with Ernie and Retief. I spent nine holes with him today just to get some input from him, to get some feelings on the golf course. I'm going to work a bit more with him this afternoon, and he's good.
I worked with Jos, actually, a long, long time ago. I was one of the first players to work with him out here. I worked with him for six months. I have a strong belief that I have improved and I believe that Jos has improved in what he does, as well. We are all learning new things. He's working with some of the greatest players in the world who are having the greatest success at the moment. He's shown that it works. But also some of the things we talked about today on the golf course actually made me realize what I'm doing wrong. We all the know that golf is a game of -- it is purely confidence, and if you see big targets you're going to hit the ball all over the place and if you see small targets you will hit them -- and we're just working on some things that are going to make me get back to focusing out there on the golf course.
It's a question of being 100% focused on what you were doing and when you're doing it, and then just let go wherever you are. Whenever you don't need to be focused, just let go. I actually can see it in those two more than anybody, Ernie and Retief. There are hardly two more relaxed people in the world on the golf course, but they are very focused on what they are doing and they are both playing very good golf at the moment. They do it the right way but they do -- and that's why they have that energy and that's why they are playing at such a high level week after week. I'm very intense as a player and I use a lot of energy. When I am in contention, I use a lot of energy and sometimes I can't really play well because I use that much energy -- because I'm focused on holes when I'm playing well -- actually, to focus or five or six hours in a day and then be focussed in a row and be able to play again.
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