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September 25, 2018
CLARE BODEL: Thomas, welcome back to the media centre. Since we saw you, you had the guys gathered in the team room. Tell us what it was like to have all the guys here in France.
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: It was nice. You have a lot of thoughts and a lot of time goes into it, so to get them all together, and, you know, wives and partners, we just had a nice dinner last night, a nice time.
Yeah, all excited and ready to go, and obviously there was a lot of chat about last week. I'm sure Rosey will pick up the bill this week. There was a lot of chat about that.
They all kind of get together, and a few of them came from America, but there's a few guys that's been back home, so they had not seen each other for a couple weeks, so they are just kind of catching up about everything.
Then we just had a nice evening and off to bed and getting rested and out on the golf course this morning.
CLARE BODEL: Today was the first day of practise. Did it feel that it's the week really beginning?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, this is it. That's what we're here to do. We're out to play golf, and we want to be out on the golf course. You know, they are all out there kind of getting their bearings and getting a little bit of that jet-lag off for some of them and just kind of getting to know what the golf course is like this week.
So yeah, we just got them out there, and they are all happy and all very relaxed. So they will go all the way around today and they will have good chats tonight about what they see and how they feel about the golf course, and then we'll start getting our focus in on getting people together and in pairings and stuff like that.
Today is a very relaxed day in just getting to know the whole golf course and getting everybody kind of started with their week.
Q. We've been out watching and looking at the first few groups. How much can we read into the way you've sent them out and the groups of four?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Not too much, I don't think, to be honest. As I said, today is very much about getting everybody out there. They are enjoying themselves out there, and you get some of the new guys out with somebody with a bit of experience so they can talk the way around, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are pairing up together. More having a good chat on the golf course, and four of them were in the media this morning and did their rotation, and that's kind of where that came from. They went off last because they did their media rotation, and then you fit everything in around it.
I don't feel like I've given anything away in what's happening on the golf course today, but in any Ryder Cup, things come out of the blue and things develop during the week, and that's what I said to you yesterday. You get yourself there 80, 85 per cent, and then things kind of -- during the week there's certain things that can change, but I'm pretty set in my mind where I want to go with this from the beginning, and obviously over the two days with pairings, things can change a lot, but I'm pretty set in my mind.
Q. How would you describe the way the course is set up this week, and what went into that decision for you as far as figuring out what would best suit Europe? Was it conversations with players? How would you describe that?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Well, this is a tough golf course, to start with. I like the idea of a golf course that's set up like a championship golf course. You've got to identify guys that are hitting the golf ball well. Identify guys that are playing good golf during the week.
But all these 24 guys -- in the past, I think a lot of things had been put into golf courses. I also think in today's world, these guys play the same golf courses. They play the same tournaments; 25 years ago, they didn't play the same tournaments, the same golf courses.
They are very much similar type of players, so you can put as much into the golf course as you want, but I think when you've got a venue like this and a course like this, you can only do so much. And I've said from the beginning, it's difficult to grow water. It's difficult to make those big changes.
This golf course is very similar to what we are used to when we come here, and that's probably more the thing that I like. There's guys on this team that's played a lot of French Opens. I don't want them to show up and it's a completely different golf course to what they are used to. This is very similar to what it is normally.
Q. Can you speak to the meaning of the yellow ribbon?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, we obviously -- the golfing family extends way beyond what we are trying to do this week. You know, those events in America with Celia being killed playing golf is something that's hit everybody in the golf family, and obviously our two Spanish players very much. And we felt like that after a conversation from Ryder Cup Europe with Celia's mother, that we would honour her this week.
That's what we are doing, and it's nothing about us, but it's just more about that the golfing family gets touched by these things all over the world. It's terrible when things like this happen.
Such a great prospect for the game of golf, she was, but also a wonderful person. And when you speak to Sergio and Jon about it, they will both -- they couldn't talk highly enough about her. We felt like that was appropriate for the week.
Q. I was walking with the grounds crew this morning. The fairways felt a little narrower and the greens a little slower. Is that -- do you have anything to do with that?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: You know, the fairway lines are pretty much the way I've always seen them at the French Open to be honest. That hasn't changed that much. You know, the greens are what they are. The speed of them is where they very often are when we are here and the way we have our green speeds in Europe. It would be strange if it was anything different when you came here, so that's where they are.
Q. How much has been made about the fact that you have five rookies -- how nervous were you as a rookie and do you ascribe to the Justin Rose theory that it depends who the rookies are?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, I think the great thing about rookies is that they can't wait to get out there and get going, and obviously for some, the occasion on Friday can be big and daunting, and for some, they don't see it. And you don't really know until they are on the tee.
You want to see them get out there and you want to see what they are all about, but I've got a good feeling about these five, I have to say. I feel like they are all well prepared. I feel like they are very strong. They are very class players, and there's some very good quality in there.
The way they talk about it, we get a good feeling about them, being around them. It looks like they are ready to go.
Q. How nervous were you?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, if you stand on the first tee at Valderrama, it's the tightest fairway in the whole world of golf. So when you're standing on the first tee at Valderrama in The Ryder Cup, there's not much to hit at. That's pretty much the only thing you're thinking about.
It was a wonderful experience, but it's an opportunity, and I've always looked at those moments in my career as an opportunity. It's a chance to go out and test everything that you work towards. I always looked at it that way, but that doesn't mean that you're not extremely nervous. You have that kind of excess of feeling in your body where you lose a little bit of control of what you're doing.
I felt like I settled into it pretty quickly, which was great. I think that's kind of the thing. I'm always nervous when I walk to the first tee starting a round of golf, so it's nothing new, and you know that you settle into it quickly. When you play a regular TOUR event, you probably settle into it over the first hole, and when you play in The Ryder Cup, it might take two or three holes, but then you get into playing golf and then off you go. As long as you know that and you have that experience, it's something you can deal with.
Q. The Conor Moore video you showed your team last night, whose idea was that? What were you trying to achieve, and who was the best impression?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, that was a team effort, let's put it that way. But obviously we have a wonderful social media team on The European Tour that comes up with great ideas.
You know, when you get into what's a week of high pressure, you've also got to have a bit of fun. I very much always start in a place with stuff like that; that if you're going to make fun of people, you've got to start making fun of yourself, as well, so that's kind of where we went with it.
That set a nice tone. It was a good atmosphere in that room yesterday. I think that there might be one or two that found out a few truths about themselves about how people look at them, but they took that all in great spirits. I'm not sure Justin will be showing his Gold Medal too much the next few days (laughing).
Q. When it comes to Poulter, and I suppose Sergio, as well, how much does reputation in The Ryder Cup contribute to form?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: No, the heart and what they are contributes a lot, and that's kind of what I've been trying to say about both of them, and maybe in different ways.
Ian has a fantastic connection with the fans and the people around. Sergio has a fantastic connection with the players within the room, and that's what they bring.
But don't forget that these are -- you know, we're talking about a Masters Champion from last year, and we're talking about somebody who won on the PGA TOUR this year. They are no mugs when they get out on the golf course, either. They are very capable of delivering, and that's where they probably get their reputation from is that they have been very good at winning points on the golf course, and then they bring so much else to it, as well.
They are the whole package. They are what you look for as a captain. The people like that you want to have on your team because they are the driving force behind where you are trying to go. That's what both of them are, but in little bit different ways, probably, because I think Poulter is that fan favourite on this side of the Atlantic, and Sergio, he's good with the fans, but he's certainly great with the players in the team.
Q. You've got obviously this hugely expanded grandstand behind the first tee. Just wondering if you have talked amongst yourselves at all about that, and if you had any input; if you were consulted about things like that when you're planning ahead for the event.
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, you know, you obviously have conversations with the people that are building the venue, but I think we thought it was big in Gleneagles. It was certainly big last time at Hazeltine. If this is the route we're going to go, we're going to have 60,000 sitting down the first hole at some stage in the future.
But there's an opportunity, here, as well, because you've got the room. I just think it's going to be one of the most amazing experiences in any sport of being on that first tee.
And have I had any input? I've had conversations with the staging team and Ryder Cup Europe about how this should be. But I think there's always been a feeling that this Ryder Cup was going to be pretty special. It was going to be pretty unique. It was going to be big.
So there was an opportunity here to do what's done on the first. Yeah, involvement, but it's not me that's been standing there saying, I want it to look exactly like this and this big, because that's not -- that idea was on the table before I even got there, and then yeah, I've impacted it a little bit but not in any big matter.
Q. Your team has quite a few guys that are very outwardly fiery and passionate and quite a few that are very calm and that sort of demeanour. What, if anything, does that sort of personality come into the -- the two different types of personalities come into putting people together or not?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, but those are personalities you want. You want to have a bit of everything on your team, and they can fit into every situation that you're going out in.
But do you put two fiery guys out there together and two very calm ones? Well, you know, it's more about how they get on with each other and how their games match. As I keep saying, in the pairings, there's a lot of things that plays into it. You know, they all are very different, but some guys that are calm can deal with a guy that's very fiery on the golf course, they can deal with that. But some guys want to have it a little bit different and a similar type.
It's about talking to them individually and not say, okay, you two do the same thing and then you play well together. That doesn't always happen. It's about talking to them individually and figuring out what they actually like to play with.
Q. On the fire front, what's your advice to Tyrrell Hatton this week, about either keeping a lid on it or letting it all blow?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: You know, I spent a lot of time with him over the last year or so, and that personality that he is and the way he comes across when you have him off the golf course is very different than the one you see on it.
He's very warm. He's a really, really lovely guy to be around, and funny. And once you see that side of him, you probably see the things on the golf course a little bit differently. You know, I see the same things as everybody else, but you know, I want him to be Tyrrell Hatton in everything that he does. You know, so you've got to find somebody that deals with those things very well. But I want him to be him.
I'm not here to try and change any of those 12. They are here because of who they are and that's what they have got to go with. It's not my job to change Tyrrell.
He will go out and play with the passion and heart he has, but he is a very, very warm member of our team, and everybody takes to him in that team room, and that makes it a lot easier to deal with those little up-and-downs.
But, you know, I see a lot of myself in him (laughing).
Q. We saw you having a chat with Jon Rahm today. What can you say to a rookie but not a normal rookie as Jon Rahm that has so much passion when he plays? And you know, we have a great Spanish couple, Seve and OlazÃ¡bal; maybe another new great couple in this Ryder Cup?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, Jon comes in off a long list of great Spaniard players. Spanish players come into any Ryder Cup Team knowing of the history and the torch they carry for Spain in that way, and he will do that. He has the passion and the desire. He wants to be on the golf course.
Phenomenal player. Probably the most exciting player to come in the game since Rory. He's phenomenal; he's powerful and strong and has a great attitude to go where he wants to go in this game. Any player that age has things to learn and this is part of his whole learning curve as a player, getting into Ryder Cup, experiencing something new.
But you only have to talk to him for about ten seconds and realising he's going to take to this very well. He wants to be on that golf course. He wants to win points. He's here for all the right reason.
He's just, you know, when those guys come around, you're just like -- you just so desperately want them to be out there and be out on the golf course. I'm delighted -- I've had short conversations with him, and the great thing about Jon is he just wants to learn. He takes everything in, and he listens and he talks to people, and then he will say, okay, I can use this, I can't use that, and he'll go with it.
He's a strong professional, and whatever the future will bring his way, I'm sure within the game of golf it will be great things.
Q. A huge deal is made of your role now, the captaincy in Ryder Cup golf, and some people say that while a good captain can't necessarily win you a Ryder Cup, a bad captain can cost you a Ryder Cup. Is that correct?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Well, you can be a really bad one and then there might be a chance. But you've got to remember that those 12 want to go out there, and they are not doing it for me. I hope they are not doing it for me. I hope they are doing it for other reasons than that. I hope they are doing it for themselves. I hope they are doing it for their countries and I hope they are doing it for their continent and I hope they are doing it for each other.
If they are only playing for me, then we have problems. That's not what we are there to do. We are there for something that's so much bigger and stronger than that. And those bonds that they get with each other, that's what it's all about. You would like to think that even if I was a bad captain, they will still get together and give it a shot and not want to give up because the captain is poor.
Can you lose it as a captain? Well, you've got the final decisions on certain things, and obviously you can mess that up. But I don't think that the captain is the one thing that makes a big difference. I think it's the players that makes a difference, and it's for them to go out and show they want this, and that goes for both teams.
Q. Did you get your jacket back in Liverpool, by the way?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: I didn't, no.
Q. How different is this course from Hazeltine in terms of the types of shots it rewards and the style of golf it demands?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: It's a completely different golf course, to be honest. It's tight. Hazeltine was wide. It was a long golf course. There's a lot of rough. There's no rough in Hazeltine. All the differences you can come up with, they are here. That's it.
That doesn't make Hazeltine a bad golf course and it doesn't make this one a bad one, either. They are both great golf courses in their own rights, and that's what it is.
But this is the course we're playing this week, and all those 24 out there now trying to figure out how to play it the best way.
Q. I think you said, perhaps it was the PGA, Rory McIlroy was a player about to go boom at any time. Wonder what you feel about his form this year? Since Bay Hill, he hasn't quite perhaps put it all together the way he might like. What do you expect from him in terms of that, playing, and also in terms of leadership in the team room and that personality that he brings to the game?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Well, the good thing about Rory is as he's maybe not won the last few weeks or months, he's still there or thereabouts every time he plays, and that shows what quality he has and what he brings on the golf course.
You go out there and watch him play, and it's just wonderful to watch. He's such a phenomenal ball-striker. He does so many great things on the golf course.
You know, I always say, he's the one guy I'll pay money to watch play because he's always quality. The steps he's taken off the golf course are brilliant. He brings so much in that team room. He's great to have conversations with. He's got great ideas. He understands everybody in the team room very well. He really gets under the skin on a lot of those youngsters and they take to him.
You've got people that are great players and then you have people that have everything, and he's one of those that if you're a young player, yeah, you look at him and you look at him in maybe a little bit of a different way, where this is the guy I want to learn from and this is the guy I want to be, the way he plays golf. There's not a golfer in the world that wouldn't want to be like that.
He's a lot of things. You all know what he's like and what good a guy he is, and he's just somebody you want to be like. You put those people like that into a team room, then they raise the mood of everybody else, and he's very good at that.
He's obviously a big part of this team, but he's also very understanding that it is a team and it's about all 12, and that's what we go with.
Q. Compared to the setup of the course during the French Open, have you made some change on the course for Ryder Cup?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Not really, in the way that there's still a lot of rough, and the rough changed quite a bit from the summer.
I think the first time it rained here since the French Open was this Sunday. So it obviously takes all that long wispy stuff, it takes it away from being there, and now it's a more usual setup with shorter grass but very lush and green.
So that's the way the golf course is, but in the way of fairway lines, it's the same. You know, the green speed is the same. The firmness of the golf course is very similar.
But yeah, it's a different rough, but it's still equally as difficult to play from.
Q. Did you issue a captain's decree that you were not to be included in the video, or were you included and what sort of fun did they make of it?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Last night? Yeah, I was definitely in that video (laughs). It included something like a shower cap made up for my head I think, and then some extremely big eyebrows (chuckles).
Yeah, I was very much included. I don't know if I was the most fun one, but certainly -- well, they take the Mickey out of me, anyway. They don't need a video to do that.
CLARE BODEL: Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Thomas.
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