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September 26, 2018

Thomas Bjorn

Guyancourt, France

BRIONY CARLYON: Well, Thomas, great to have you back here with us. Another great day at The Ryder Cup. Obviously the guys went out and played 18 holes. Give us a sense of just how everyone is feeling at the moment, and you've just come off from being out there yourself.

THOMAS BJØRN: We're good. Good place. A couple of dragging their feet in the end yesterday, and they were tired after, especially the guys traveling across the Atlantic felt like it was a long day yesterday. But we got the golf course done today.

Had a good night's rest and a nice dinner last night. They are all in a good place and happy and smiles on their faces. We're pretty happy with everything. I have to say, we're out there, and the weather is amazing and fans are starting to come in, so some of those guys that haven't been in it before are starting to get a feel for what's ahead of them. It was that kind of anticipation that's now coming into what it really is all about.

I feel they are in a good place.

Q. As you look at making your pairings, what's the recipe for a good foursomes tandem?
THOMAS BJØRN: The recipe for a good foursomes player, really you've got to be a good golfer, that's to start with.

Foursomes is a tough game. Foursomes is a game of being steady and being -- it's a hard format in the sense that you're only hitting half of the shots. It's difficult to get that kind of -- get going. You're always a bit -- so you've got to be on top of your game.

You want to have steady players and you want to have people that knows how to keep their ball in play and just kind of never give anything away. There's so many different type of golfers in the game. There's guys that go out there that are flamboyant and they play with a lot of -- they hit it a little bit here, there and everywhere, but they get it up-and-down.

In foursomes, it's more the grinders. It's more the people that work hard on the golf course and don't give too many things away and grind it out. Those are the guys that make great foursomes players, but then you look at it and then you look at these 24 players. They are quite capable of going out to play foursomes. They are great players. On their day, they all hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and hole putts. That's what makes a good foursomes player, but that's also what makes a good golfer.

Q. We've heard a lot about the camaraderie and the jokes flying around between the players of WhatsApp groups. Just wondered whether Brexit might have come up at all, whether that's been a windup for some of the Englishmen involved?
THOMAS BJØRN: Ah, no. (Laughter) I think Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland are part of Europe last time I looked, so no.

Q. As we get closer to Friday, what becomes the more difficult aspect: Who to pair or who to sit?
THOMAS BJØRN: They are equally -- I would say they are equally difficult. But if you have an overall plan and everybody understands where they are going -- I, for me, in my personal experience was if I knew what my plan was, then I was pretty happy with that and that's what I went with. Then I didn't really bother with how many matches I was playing, and, well, if this was my plan for the week, then I go with that. If you're in a good place with your players, then they will go with that.

Everybody understands that they can't all play five. Most guys that come into The Ryder Cup, they want to be out there. They want to be out on the golf course playing in matches, but they all understand they have a role to play and it's just identifying that role.

So it's not easy to mix-and-match the team; it never is, because as soon as you move one guy, a lot of different parts moves within the whole team. That's what we are there to do. That's my job and that's the five vice captains, that's what we do together, and then we find the best solution with the whole team.

So you try and work those things out, but sitting guys out, that's part and parcel of The Ryder Cup, and that's what makes it great. If everybody played, it becomes a bit like, okay, well, everybody's getting out there. The buildup is not as much fun as it is in The Ryder Cup. It makes it difficult on the captain but also gives you guys something to write about and predict what's going on.

I have my ideas and I get together with my vice captains every day and we have discussions, then we lay out a plan. We communicate with the players, as well, and they all understand what role they play.

Q. If this was a football match, a manager in your position would probably build up the sense of underdog and playing a great opponent to inspire his own team. Is that the kind of thing you would do, and do you actually believe the heavy hype and favouritism around the American side?
THOMAS BJØRN: I mean, being underdog or being favourites; my job, and I've said this all along, you can line them up in World Rankings and you can line them up in achievements and you can line them up in whatever, and then the results are what they are.

My job is to create a process for those 12 players to go out and perform their best. Are we underdogs? Probably on paper we are. But we still believe that we can win. We still believe that we can go out and do a job on the golf course, and we concentrate on us. We concentrate on what we do, our pairings, the people in our team room and everything around that and try and create the best possible environment for those 12, and that's my job.

That's the only thing I can focus on. I can't focus on if we are underdogs or if we are favourites, because that gives me nothing. It gives me absolutely nothing.

The only thing it gives me is some sort of way of trying to predict the result. All I can do is I've got Wednesday here, I've got my plan for Wednesday, what I'm doing. I've got my plan for tomorrow, what I'm doing with that. And then Friday morning, we go with those pairings that we believe are those right pairings for that moment in time, and then we try and do the best on the golf course.

I've said all along: I'm so much into the process that I don't really look at that kind of picture. The same I was asked yesterday about winning or losing or whatever; I don't allow myself to get to that moment on Sunday where that's what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about what's right in front of me.

Q. Grégory Havret and Raphaël Jacquelin are part of your team, and we've seen Thomas Levet. Can you talk about how important it was to have some French involvement?
THOMAS BJØRN: We are in France, and you have to respect the nation that you're in. This country has great players, and when you take certain players that has had such long-standing careers on Tour, they are very much part of what we are as a European Tour.

You know, it's hard to come across two nicer guys and two better people than Greg and Raph. I wanted their involvement for two reasons. They are French; people know them, it's nice to be out on the golf course with them. A lot of the French fans recognise them and want to have a chat with them and get behind them being there.

And second of all, because I really like them. You know, they are really good friends of mine. I get on really well with them. I know they will do a job for us. They will give everything for those players on that team, so that's why they are there. They are great people to have around, and they understand their role. They understand when the players are doing their thing, they go and sit in the corner and have a nice glass of red wine and that's what they do, and then they get involved when it's right.

But they are so good in picking their moments to be involved, and all those 12 players in that team feel great about them, so that's why they are there.

Q. Putting aside the underdog thing, the World Rankings show this is the strongest group of 24 players ever assembled. Does it have the feeling, that this is going to be a bit special and we've moved up a notch?
THOMAS BJØRN: Yeah. Short and simple, yes.

Q. Are you getting that vibe from the players?
THOMAS BJØRN: You know, the players -- as a player, you don't think if you're 24th in the world or 18th in the world. You know you're playing well and you're in a good place in your career because that's why you're here, so you go and try and do your best.

They don't think about it that way. I see them going out and doing their own thing and concentrate on that, but the question is: Are we in for something special? These teams are the two best teams World Ranking-wise that have been across from each other in this event. It's all lined up to be something special, so it's for those 24 players to go out and show that.

The surroundings -- the golf course, the stands, the fans, all the buildup of being in this great city, as well -- I think that just adds on for it to be a really, really special occasion for The Ryder Cup and for the game of golf.

And for me and Jim, that's a wonderful place to be and a great thing to be a part of.

Q. When Rory was in this morning, he talked about two years ago, him and Thomas Pieters had not played together in practise, and they were effectively thrown together after the 0-4 loss in the opening session. How important is that opening session to be able to stick to a game plan that you have?
THOMAS BJØRN: Yeah, I think it is. I think you build your whole mind up about that first day, and how you see that evolving, and you obviously have a plan for Saturday, but that can change from where you are.

You don't want to fall behind and see your whole plan that you've laid out falling apart in that first session, and that's what it did for Darren. You know, it's not easy as a captain. I would dread being 0-4 down after Friday morning's session, but I think any captain would do that. That's not a great place to be. You can't anything but second-guess yourself if you're in that situation, but in the end, players have to go out on the golf course and play their golf and do the things that they need to do on the golf course, and that's not always on the captain. It's always sometimes on the players. That was an unfortunate start for us last time, and hopefully we're not in that situation on Friday.

Q. We had Jon Rahm in this morning who is very excited. Is there a danger of being too excited? Do you try and temper that, or do you just let him get a hold of it?
THOMAS BJØRN: No, you can't be too excited about this.

Q. Well, he is --
THOMAS BJØRN: No, he's not too excited. He's excited, but he's not too excited.

Q. So there's no danger?
THOMAS BJØRN: No. Jon wants to be on the golf course. Remember where he's from. You know, he's got a long-standing history, his country, with this event, and from the European side, there's no doubt that we wouldn't be in the situation we're in today if it wasn't for Seve, and the Spanish players keep carrying that, and Ollie coming behind him and Sergio, he's now seeing himself as the next person in line to carry that on.

I would say if I had that from my country and in my career, those people to look up to from my country and having the possibility to be the next one in line, I'll be pretty excited, as well.

You know, Jon -- you all write about golf. You all see golf out there. We can all see what an exciting prospect he is as a golfer, and why shouldn't you be excited about this? He's looked forward to it for so long.

Q. You've seen it from both sides. What do you think the home field is worth?
THOMAS BJØRN: You know, I think when you're a player and you step on that first tee, especially the first morning, it's great. It gives you a buzz and you know the people are with you, and that gives you -- but I always feel like when you're nine holes into it as a player, as well, you get down to your business, and then the week kind of you know what's facing you and you carry on. I watched it so many times; that players, you know, they just go out and try and do the job.

But you want to have your fans -- it's great to have your fans on side and with you. I think it's just a buzz that you can't describe.

I thought last time it was, you know, difficult, and when you're new to it, it's difficult. It's difficult because this kind of buildup and the players, the new guys that are out on the golf course, they are like, hmmm, maybe not as loud and as what they thought, but that's the practise rounds. They are not quite -- when you're trying as a captain, you're saying, well, just wait till Friday morning, it will be loud. Trust me, there will be a lot of singing and shouting and all that.

And you can't prepare them that much for it, but when that starts, it's nice to have it with your team instead of them cheering for the opposing team.

Q. You talked earlier about identifying roles for each member of the team. Could you outline Justin Rose's role this week and his importance?
THOMAS BJØRN: Could I outline Justin Rose's role? Well, I mean, I've got an internal role for Justin Rose that I'm not going to share with you, but Justin Rose, obviously with the stature he has in the game with where he's come from and gone to, he carries a lot of weight on his shoulders, but that's what you expect from the world No. 2 and a FedExCup Champion and an Olympic Champion; that you go out and you impose yourself on that team.

Now, Justin will do that, and him and I have sat down and identified what his role is and how he does that, which I'm not going to share with anyone, but we have had that conversation. Justin knows his position within the team and how he does that, and let's leave it there.

Q. Henrik had an odd year, just with injury and trying to build momentum in his game. What do you see in his game right now, and what's the biggest thing he can bring to this team?
THOMAS BJØRN: For somebody that has stats like he does, you know, he brings a lot of greatness on the golf course, and somebody that he's a past Open Champion, he's done great things in the game. These new guys look up to him. They know what he stands for.

Henrik is not the type of guy that takes up a lot of space and the arms are swinging around and being in the middle of that team room. He's the one that's more a little bit in the corner, but you see him all the time having great conversations with people. He's very good to have around. He's calm and he's just a good player. You know, you look at his year, I think when he did get that injury just before The Open, I think he kind of -- all right, well, that was that. I think he felt like he needed to regroup for the coming season and kind of put things in a little bit of a different place for himself.

But that doesn't mean when you look at his results that -- they are not what we normally see from Henrik, but that doesn't mean they are poor, he's just in a different place where he's building for something else. You watch him on the golf course and you watch him play, he's a phenomenal player and very strong. He brings a lot.

There was never any doubt in my mind that that was a player I wanted here because of what he is as a player and how he plays, and when you look at his stats, you know, he's just kind of bubbling on always looking like he should be playing great; he's just not quite getting it together, but he's playing well enough to be amongst the 12 best players in Europe, that's for sure.

Q. Just getting back to that plan, is getting all 12 players on the course on day one part of that plan?
THOMAS BJØRN: You'll have to wait and see Friday, won't you.

BRIONY CARLYON: I think we're done here for today. Thank you very much for your time.

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