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September 23, 2002

Thomas Bjorn


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Thomas, must be nice to be playing in this Ryder Cup, because you enjoyed '97 so much, and you really felt the disappointment of not being in the team in 1999.

THOMAS BJORN: Yeah, it was one of those things where I just went through a bad spell at the wrong time, probably, and didn't make the team last time. And it's nice to be back in the team and feeling that I've been here before and done it before and I'm just really looking forward to it. I think we will see a lot of our guys coming into good form now. And we have a lot to look forward to this week. We obviously have a lot to prove, but it's coming together nicely, and it just seems that the players are coming in today and feel very confident and comfortable. And I just think the spirit is up in the team already and we just feel good about things. It was nice to get some guys shooting low scores yesterday and get some confidence in our team. We have a very strong side this time around, and I think in general we just -- we have a lot of belief in each other, and I think we're going into a very, very good week this week.

GORDON SIMPSON: Does the feeling of anticipation all come up again when you meet up in the team room.

THOMAS BJORN: It's been a funny one this time, we've been waiting a long time and all of a sudden now it's here. And you have to just take it in. Normally when you come to a Ryder Cup it's just finished with getting in the team and you're right now. This time we've been waiting for it for such a long time. When people start popping in, you start actually believing and seeing how good a team you have, every time the door Opens and another player walks through the door. And that's a very good feeling in the team at the moment. We really are looking forward to this. And as I said, we have a lot to prove. And I'm sure with the team we have, we can go out and produce the things we need to produce to win the trophy I back.

Q. Sometimes the general perception is that the Europeans enjoy these team events more than the Americans; would you say that's correct?

THOMAS BJORN: I think when you get started, I think everybody enjoys them. But I think all the build-up we probably enjoy it a bit more than they do. They seem very determined on their own tournament golf leading into this, and very determined doing things for their own good. We had a lot of guys last week really just trying to prepare themselves for this week. And you're playing one of the biggest tournaments of the year. But it seems like we probably rate this a bit higher than some of the Americans do. And that's an important thing for us. We put a lot of effort into the Ryder Cup as players, and we want this, because the history of the Ryder Cup through the last maybe 20 years shows that as well as we do in this tournament, as well as the European Tour does, and we know we have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders to make the European Tour grow, and a lot comes with this tournament. And we put a lot trying to give something back to our Tour by trying to win this tournament. And that's just been, since the time of the Faldos, Seves, that's just been the trademark of those players, that they wanted this so bad, and that's just brought down through the ranks of the guys that play in this team now that it's very, very important to us. We want to win this trophy, because it's the most important thing for us, maybe taking -- that's what we want to do. This is what it's all about. This is where you want to be, and this is where golf careers are made, and this is just what definitely my golf career is all about. I wanted, ever since I turned pro, this is what I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to play in the Ryder Cup. I wanted to be part of the European side. I've been fortunate to be part of a European winning side. And still to this day that's one of the greatest achievements in my golf career.

Q. Any thoughts on who you might play with? There's been a little bit of speculation that you would partner with Sergio, if Jesper has putting problems; and Niclas. What are your thoughts?

THOMAS BJORN: This is Sam's -- probably the biggest moment of his career. And this is where Sam comes in and makes the decisions. And when I go into a team event I want to be as much a team person as I can be, and I leave as many decisions to Sam as possible. I'm not going to sit here -- I have a very clear idea who I'm going to play with, but I'm not going to sit here and say who I'm going to play with. But I feel that there's 11 other players on this side that I can play golf with, and I get on well with everybody on the team. And that's a fortunate thing for Sam, is that he feels he can pair us with everybody. But there are certain players that appeal to my game, probably not to my person, but to my game. And that's where we're going to go. We're going to try to go with the game that probably suits each other. And that's -- but it's for Sam to decide. He has a clear indication of what he wants to do, and that's what we are going to go with what he says. There's a couple of senior players on our side that might have a say. I'm certainly not one of those, and I'll stick with the team's decision, and go out and do my best. And I said last week, there's only one thing you can do when you go into a Ryder Cup, you can only play your own golf as good as you can. You cannot do anything about anybody else. You go out and try and do as good as you can do, and then you'll have to wait and see if that brings you any points or not.

Q. Do you always enjoy match play more than stroke-play? I was in Munich when you went head-to-head with Bernard, and it was really the two of you. And the same thing happened when you went in Dubai against Tiger. Do you just enjoy that situation more?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, I certainly get up for the occasion whenever it's big, and if I go head-to-head, I start feeling comfortable probably more than a lot of players. And that's pretty much stood out in my whole golf career, that I enjoy that moment when it's down to a head-to-head. I don't feel very comfortable when there's a lot of players that can win, and you're not really sure what's going to happen. But when you go -- when you get me out there head-to-head, I really enjoy that situation. And that's just something I had all through my golf career. If you look back at my amateur records in match play and my records through my career, whenever I won golf tournaments, it's often been when I had the head-to-head situation.

Q. I think you've partly answered my question, but those four rounds you went head-to-head with Tiger last year in Dubai, will that help you in terms of your self-belief for this week?

THOMAS BJORN: Not really. Those four rounds I went head-to-head in Dubai with Tiger was a special moment for me. And that was a very important moment for me, because that gave me the belief that I can not only play with the best players in the world; I can beat the best players in the world. And that's an important thing to know about yourself. And it probably helped me this week knowing that I don't have any reason to fear anybody on their side. I can go out and play with the best of them. But then again being here, I also know that I wouldn't be here if I couldn't do that. So it's not something I will look back on and try and take with me; I'll go in knowing that I'm good enough to play with these guys and I'm good enough to beat these guys if I play my best. I have to go out and produce my best. We are against a very, very strong team. And that's one thing that we need to know when we go in; we need to know that these guys are very, very tough. And they've got some very, very good players, and we have to play our best to beat these guys. But I'm very, very sure that we can do that.

Q. What kind of reactions are you expecting from the crowd that are following these games?

THOMAS BJORN: The crowds in this country has always been good to the game of golf. And that's what I expect from the crowds. I expect that we get a fierce competition between the United States and Europe. The game of golf will come out on top. And I'm a strong believer that the game of golf is going to be the winner for Ryder Cup, no matter which side wins. And the best way to get the game of golf out on top is if the crowds appreciate the golf that's being played, no matter who wins. And that's what I would say to everybody that comes here, enjoy watching the game of golf, and it doesn't really matter who wins or loses, as long as the golf is really, really good. I'm going to go in here and play as hard as I can. And there's one thing that's a hundred percent certain, I hope we win. But the game of golf has to win this tournament, like it should do every week.

Q. Bernard Langer is playing his 10th Ryder Cup. What do you think of that achievement? What's he like as a person and a professional?

THOMAS BJORN: Golfers don't come any more professional than Bernard. I've just been in a situation where I went head-to-head with him. And if I was leading with three or four shots against most players out there with only a few holes to play, I would be quite certain that I would win the golf tournament. Playing him head-to-head is just a different story, because you know he's going to keep going, and he has to believe that if he needs to hole a shot, he'll hole it just to keep you going. They don't come more professional than that. Playing the 10th Ryder Cup just tells the whole story, itself. He's had a magnificent golf career, and it's not over yet. The guy is 45 and he still plays to the highest level, and that's a magnificent achievement. And that's what European golf has had over a long period of time. We had Faldo playing in a lot of Ryder Cups. We have, in our captain's seat this week, and the people around the team, we have Sam, Woozy, Jesse; they've all been here so many times, that almost when you walk in, "you say why are these guys not playing?" They've been here so many times, they know what's going on. And that's a good thing to have on your side. But Bernard in himself is just one of the finest players brought to the game of golf. And he's kept it going, mostly because he's as professional as he is. He'll keep going and keep going, and that's why in his mid-40s still plays to the highest levels. And it's just -- it's a fantastic honor for all the players on the European side to have a guy like that on their side.

Q. (Inaudible.)

THOMAS BJORN: I rate him highly. He's won two Masters championships, he's won so many tournaments around the world. You can't speak highly enough about players like that, because he's not only brought the game of golf to a higher level, he's brought so much to the game of golf on the continent of Europe. Him and Seve were really the first players that made the game in the continent of Europe grow big. And so many other players have followed in the footsteps of them. And I, for one, when I grew up, these were the guys I was looking at. There's a guy from Spain, there's a guy from Germany that could do it. They're not English, Irish, they're not American; they're from the continent of Europe, and if they can do it there's a chance a little guy from Denmark can do it as well.

Q. How many of us were standing on the first tee in 1997, and can any professional tell exactly what they're feeling when you're standing up there?

THOMAS BJORN: We tend to say "bring your bicycle clips," because it's nerve-wracking when you stand on that first tee. I came on that first tee, and I remember it very clearly, I stood on the putting green at Valderrama and I was playing for Woozy. And I was looking for him and saying, where the hell is he? And I looked over on the first tee and there he was on the first tee. And I thought that's nice of him. I took this walk on my own. He said, "Are you nervous?" I looked at him, and I said, "What do you think?" And he says, "Don't worry about it, go out and play and I'll come out of the blocks quick." That's what he said to me. And the guy was 5-under through 6, I think. And it was just a magnificent feeling just to go out and play. And obviously that's what you need. You need your experienced players to step up from the start, so the rookies in the team can just kind of play their way into it. Because you are very, very nervous, and you can't -- even players that are International Players that play to the highest level can't -- they can't get the feeling of what it is to stand on the first tee at the Ryder Cup the first time you play. That is just different. I stood on a lot of first tees. And I stood on a lot of pressure situations, but this is different.

Q. Did we understand someone to say that you were here for the earthquake?

THOMAS BJORN: I woke up in -- I was in my house at Wentworth, and I woke up in the middle of the night by the whole house shaking, and I was thinking, "What the hell was that?" I said to my wife, "What's going on here?" And she ran around the house, thought there was somebody running around the house. And I woke up this morning -- I felt really funny. And I woke up this morning, turned on the TV, and I thought, "Earthquake, England? No. It doesn't work." I don't know what it is; maybe Sam and his Ryder Cup history coming here again with all his injuries.

GORDON SIMPSON: Hope you get a better night's sleep this time. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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