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September 28, 2018

Thomas Bjorn

Guyancourt, France

BRIONY CARLYON: Thank you, Thomas, for joining us here in the Media Centre after quite an exciting day here at Le Golf National, historic for The European Team with the afternoon foursomes sessions.

Perhaps if you can give us your thoughts on how the day panned out.

THOMAS BJØRN: It was a bit of a roller coaster ride, to be honest. We were obviously disappointed with this morning. I think a couple of guys came in and felt like they couldn't get out of the matches what they wanted. There was a good feeling about going out and trying to do something this afternoon, pretty much the way before I got on the golf course, to be honest. So it was a great afternoon.

Yeah, it's a pretty special occasion, obviously, for those players that they have done that, but they are also very well aware that you can enjoy this for about an hour, and then you turn around to tomorrow and you start focusing on what's ahead of us.

We know it's a marathon, and we're delighted with the way the day turned out, because it was a fairly tough morning. Yeah, we're happy. We go home happy tonight, but we refocus and look forward to tomorrow.

BRIONY CARLYON: You must be happy, as well, with how those players and the team responded in general going into the afternoon.

THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, but I tried to say all week that I trust them as a group. They have a lot of belief in each other and they are pretty easy to manage. They look at each other more than they look to me, and my vice captains, they look at each other and want to do it together. They wanted to go out and prove something this afternoon, and that was nice to see, but it says a lot about the group.

Q. You've experienced a lot of Ryder Cup scenarios this afternoon. It wasn't just the victories but the scale of the victories that was significant. Where does that session stand of the ones you've witnessed throughout the years?
THOMAS BJØRN: It's hard to say it's not right at the top as a session, but then you've got to look at the other way and say this morning's session wasn't at the top. That's the way it is.

It is right at the top. When you clean-sweep, that is something that is pretty special to all those players that are out on that golf course. But you know, we experienced it against us in Hazeltine the first morning, and that's not a nice thing.

But for us today was -- we got those crowds behind us. We got them going. They started believing, and then they went through the whole golf course, and then it seemed like nothing could go wrong. That was kind of the feeling that you got through the day and through the afternoon, and we hold putts; the Americans missed putts, and that's kind of where it all went this afternoon.

But also, I've been around long enough to know that tomorrow morning, it could be completely different again. It's nothing that excites me more than -- I thought it was a nice response and a brilliant afternoon. It doesn't excite me any more as I know what's ahead of us for the next two days.

Q. Did you have any thoughts about dropping Rory for the afternoon, or did you think it was important to stick to the game plan?
THOMAS BJØRN: Well, I had a plan and I stuck to it for this first day, and I've had it for a few days. That's how I saw the day. That's how I saw the matches.

You know, great players, when they don't perform to the standards that they want to, they have an ability to just go and prove to themselves that it's -- that they want to put it right, and he did that this afternoon. He did it in a match that they got good vibes off each other and did well on the golf course -- and they got off to a bad start and they turned it around.

I never have any doubt in Rory McIlroy, because if I start doubting him, then I probably shouldn't be doing this job. I believe in him, and it was great to see his response today. But that's more on him. I was never in doubt that I wanted to have him on the golf course this afternoon.

Q. Could you give us a little backstory on how you devised Sergio and Noren, and what made you come to those decisions?
THOMAS BJØRN: Well, those decisions are pretty simple because it's four class players that bring great things individually to -- we know what Rory is and we know what Poults stand for in The Ryder Cup. Sergio I have a lot of belief in, and this was obviously a great day for him. He got out on the golf course and played well, and I felt like, you know, I wanted to have him on the golf course this afternoon because the way he's been this week is exactly the reason I picked him.

He's been fantastic in that team room. He's been with all those new guys. He's been talking. He's been in a great, great frame of mind. He just does really well when he gets into this event.

And Alex, for me, Alex won The French Open here in July, June or July, whenever it was. He loves this golf course. So to put them two together this afternoon was not something that was -- that I had to really think too hard about. It was some strong pairings and I felt like that was -- they would do well in foursomes. They fit that brief pretty well, so it was a pretty easy thing for me to do.

Q. Are you aware that you've made Tommy Fleetwood work a double shift on his son's first birthday? And can you just talk to us about the impact of Tommy and Francesco Molinari?
THOMAS BJØRN: Well, Tommy is on his way back to the hotel to spend an hour or so with his son, and that will be nice for him. That's pretty -- that's a pretty special thing for him and for Clare. That's been agreed a long way in advance that that was going to happen.

I couldn't promise Tommy that he was going to play two sessions today, so there was a few different ways of doing it. Now he's on his way back to the hotel to have a little bit of time with his family.

You know, those two, I mean, you've got a former French Open champion and The Open Champion. They just love playing to each other. I think they just have a very special bond and relationship, and they have for a long time, and they love being on the golf course together.

But also, again, they go back in, knowing that there's another day tomorrow and everybody in this team has to regroup and get ready for what's ahead. But they had a very, very good day today. And it's nice to see Francesco, he's played in two Ryder Cups and he's never been right at the -- the guy that's right at the front of everything, but he certainly has stood up today and showed why he won an Open Championship and why he's a force to be reckoned with in the world of golf.

Q. You said you were looking forward to getting out there and being in the buggy, being part of it. Can you just talk a bit about how that worked for you today, getting around all the different matches and the relationship with your vice captains, and also how proactive you were in terms of trying to influence your players or just letting them get on with it?
THOMAS BJØRN: You get questioned on why you have so many vice captains. I think that's a question you see a lot and why are they here.

Well, they are here because they are doing a job on the golf course. As a captain, there's a lot of things that goes on, and it's actually quite difficult. I've played in this, and you know what you do as a player. I've been a vice captain a lot and I know what I do as a vice captain.

This is pretty difficult because it's difficult to be everywhere, and I found myself, you know, you stand in matches, matches finish and you're there, but another match finishes within two minutes of it, and you can't be everywhere. It's just impossible to get around a golf course, and there's so many people. You end up kind of seeing people off and then you stand in one place and then they all come through and that's how you work your day.

You try and position yourself where there's a TV screen and you can see everything that's happening on the golf course. That's how you can only do it, but if you didn't have those vice captains, you'll have no -- you would have no chance of getting to the players, if there's something going on and you need to react to.

Today, this morning, yeah, I needed to react to a couple things, nothing special, but just get out there and show a bit of support. And this afternoon, I didn't have to do much. I could pretty much just sit and watch it like everybody else.

Q. Getting back to Francesco and Tommy, in their morning match today, I know it's probably impossible tangibly to measure, but I just wonder what kind of an effect that point, beating Tiger and Patrick, had on your team as you went into the afternoon?
THOMAS BJØRN: I said to them when we came in now that it was a great reaction to this morning from everyone. This morning session could easily have finished 2-2, but it could also have been a whitewash the other way, and obviously that makes a difference; that two guys stand up in the end and holes the putts on 15, 16, 17 to win the match when it really matters. It gives them belief, but also gives their teammates a hope.

I think, if I'm going to be honest, I think the guys that played at Hazeltine probably feared a little bit at one stage that we would go the same route as there because we knew how much an uphill battle that was.

So that's not a position we certainly wanted to be in again. So obviously that lifted those guys that were there at Hazeltine. You know, all of a sudden 3-1 didn't seem as bad as 4-nil would have done, certainly.

Q. You knew all along what Sergio could bring to this team, but he didn't have his normal form this year. How frequently would you speak to him, and how did you keep him encouraged with this in mind?
THOMAS BJØRN: Yeah, but it goes back to, you know, I've known him for so many years, and I kind of understand a lot about what he's all about. He had a tough year.

But you have to remember, when you play this game for a long time, sometimes when things are not going your way, you kind of write things off and then your goals change and what you want to do.

And I've felt all along with him that if I made that phone call to him, that he was going to be in this team; well, then he would regroup his whole world. He went back to Spain for a couple weeks and worked really hard with his dad and he played in Portugal. I felt, with him, that having those conversations with him -- he loves this event, he loves playing in it and he loves preparing for it, and if you gave him the right frame to do that, then he would come here and be able to play good golf. But also what he brings outside of the golf course is so crucial to a European Team. He really is that type of guy that binds it all together in the team room.

Today was a great day. He played well. Alex played well. You know, they went out and did fantastically on the golf course, but it's not just about with Sergio, what he does on the course.

Q. What did you say to Rory after the morning session on the 16th, and again, what did you say to him at the end of the day, again on the 16th?
THOMAS BJØRN: You know, the only thing I say to Rory is we go again, and that's what we do. It was a bad morning. He didn't play well, and you go again. You go out there and you bring a different type of game.

This afternoon, he went out with a guy that he's got history with; that they love playing golf together, so they went out and did what they can do this afternoon. That was great to see.

But I made quite clear all along that I'm not in any way, shape or form qualified to tell Rory McIlroy how to play golf, but I'm qualified to lead him in a direction with the people he's surrounding himself with this week to get good things out of him. And he is that guy that he only needs very short comments and then he goes again.

He was very keen to get to the range when he finished this morning and sort a couple of things out. They didn't come off to the best start this afternoon, but certainly from there, they kicked into gear, both of them, and it turned out to be a great victory for him.

Now he goes home with rest and a little bit of a smile on his face, and then we'll see where he is tomorrow.

BRIONY CARLYON: Thank you, Thomas for your time.

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