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September 29, 2018
NEIL AHERN: 10-6 lead going into the final day of this Ryder Cup. Can you give us your assessment of today's Ryder Cup and the performance overall of the team?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, today was good. It was all the things that we talked about last night, they took in and they came out hard this morning and did brilliant, they really did.
Yeah, it's been two great days, and a nice little chat in that locker room now, and turn it around and get ready for tomorrow.
You know, these days are tough. They are long. They put a lot of strain on the players, and all of them, if you're playing or not playing, because they are still long days. There's a lot of emotion and a lot of thought that goes into the day.
They need to get back. They need to recover. They need to get good food, good drink tonight, and then we go again tomorrow.
Q. Rory on the third seemed to be goaded by a spectator, and he then reacted. Can you talk about that instance, and do you think Rory was right to respond, and did it affect his game?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: I'm not aware of any incident. He hasn't mentioned it to me and I wasn't there. I'm not aware of it. If it was a big problem for Rory, he would have mentioned it to me.
Q. The way the morning went, and then with the afternoon, at any point today, did you find yourself getting greedy?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Greedy? No. I will never, ever get greedy against an American side in The Ryder Cup.
We have a goal, and that is to try to win this trophy, and that's where the focus stays. I've said all along, I focus on the 12 players that is in our side, but we are so well aware of what's standing across on the other side. Very capable and very -- you know, the greatest players in the world.
We have to regroup and we look to tomorrow, and I would never get ahead of myself in this.
Q. Patrick Reed has been a bit of a thorn in your side the last couple Ryder Cups. I wonder, when you beat him, he's a bit of a lightning rod. Can that provide a bit of a boost when you're kind of silencing him?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: We don't look at the opposition that way. We look at it from a completely different perspective. We look at winning our points.
And who stands on the other side when we win the points I think is pretty much overshadowed by the happiness of winning the points and what our goal is. We don't have -- we don't look at players on the American side in that way. These guys, I think a lot of people tend to forget how close they are, a lot of them, and they live their lives together every week and have great relationships across the two teams.
We don't look at our opponents that way. We look at it in a way of trying to win the points that we can do and be happy about that.
Q. What most impressed you about Francesco and Tommy's performance over the last two days, and did their performance exceed even your expectations?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Well, I mean, what can you say? There's not much you can say about it. It's a remarkable performance, and that pairing came out of long conversations with the two of them, and a relationship they built with each other over a long time. They wanted to do this and when they kind of both said that they were really keen on that pairing, I started looking at facts and figures and everything that was built around them.
You know, speaking to the stats guys and vice captains, there was never any red flags with the two of them, so I thought, okay, we'll give it a go. But from there, to what they have done is pretty remarkable.
But they have had two very long days, and now they have to refocus themselves. They are out there on their own tomorrow, but they are two quality golfers, and you know, it's quite fun to watch. Francesco, it's like he's leaning on golf shots and they land about three feet from the hole. I don't know what planet he lives on, but it's not the one that the rest of the players live on, that's for sure. He's been phenomenal these two days.
But now, he goes tomorrow and he needs to get out there and try and win his singles point.
Q. You mentioned the long days. I'm just curious if the types of performances out there helped lift kind of the rest of the team energy-wise, and secondly, if also having a few guys who had last week off and came in fresh helped at all?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, I mean, the energy levels are somewhat good, I feel like. But there's obviously a couple of guys that played THE TOUR Championship that they are feeling it. They are feeling how tough a season it's been, and it would be natural for them to feel it.
But they are fit and they are healthy, and they know what to do. So that's what they will do.
But tomorrow's a different beast. Tomorrow is the individual performances that come forward, and that is a different thing to do.
It's great to be out there with a partner when things are going good, but when you're out there individually, you know, then you're tested to the full of your capacity as a golfer, and that's what they need to do tomorrow. That's the message that you need to get across to players, is get the best out of yourself tomorrow. Now, you leave your partner behind and he has to go and get the best out of him, as well.
Q. Just going back to the Molinari-Fleetwood pairing, how important do you think their course knowledge was, and how important has that been for your team throughout the weekend, your local knowledge?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, I mean, it's difficult to argue that when you've got players like Alex and Tommy, that's won around here; that they obviously any time -- in my own career, any time I step onto a golf course I've won on, you feel good about yourself. You feel like: I can play this golf course.
In golf, it's also about, you know, bringing your form, and that's more important than anything because you tend to win on a golf course and then you seem to miss the cut the year after. So it is all about how you come in and the type of golf you play.
Francesco has played good golf around this golf course, and it suits his game, and he will be the first to admit that. I said this, and I said it all along, when you take 24 of the best players in the world and put them on a golf course, they are going to find a way around it. These two days, we probably found a better way around it, but it's not over yet.
We will see how we manage with the golf course tomorrow.
Q. When you think about the style of golf that this course demands, do you think the guys on your team genuinely enjoy and embrace having to play that way, and if so, is that part of what makes them good at it?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Then you have to enlighten me on the style.
Q. Tighter fairways, longer rough, need to be a little more accurate off the tee?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Well, this golf course reminds me a lot of TPC at Sawgrass. That's not a golf course that -- it's just not a very long golf course. It's a demanding golf course. You know, when you put the best players on a golf course in the world, you want to see demanding golf courses. You want them to be tested. You're rewarded by playing well.
We have played well. We have played well. I feel like we've been out on the golf course and done the right things. But you know, it's such a long marathon, this, and tomorrow there's 12 points to play for, and that's what we'll keep looking at.
Whatever the golf course is, the golf course is, and it's what's in front of us. I've never been one to hide from that, I can't play a golf course. I always believe that when I'm playing my best, I can step on any golf course and compete.
Q. Now 10-6 up, do you draw on previous experience? Do you look at Medinah, what happened on the flipside, or is this a new chapter?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: You keep reminding yourself that we had a big lead at Valderrama; we had a big lead at Brookline, and at Valderrama, we won, but only just. At Brookline we lost. At Medinah we were a long way behind and we turned it around.
So in history, history will show me and everybody on that team that this is not over. That's what it's all about. You go full bore tomorrow. Get out there and do all the right things, and this is not over till you've got the points on the board.
Q. Is there anything that you remember specifically about what was the reason that the Europeans had the success that day in 2012 on the Sunday at Medinah?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Yeah, but I'm not going to share it with you until tomorrow. (Laughter).
Q. Your decisions today meant that ThorbjÃ¸rn Olesen was the only European to only play one match before the singles. What was your reasoning behind that?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: You know, I really wanted to get everybody on the golf course every day, but a couple of things, you know, turned out. I probably really didn't anticipate to having Francesco and Tommy on the golf course the way I did, but you know, things happen, and then you keep going with that. And they were so keen; and they felt healthy; they felt fit. Then you end up in a situation where that's the case; that was a really, really hard decision for me. He's one of my dearest friends.
But you have the conversation with him, and I go back to 1997. I sat in that team room on Friday night, and looking at Seve, and I could see that he didn't really want to put me out there, but he did, and you go out and try to do the best with what's in front of you, and then you go and try to do well in the singles.
That's just what happens sometimes in The Ryder Cup; that you come in and you're playing all right, and you're doing the right things, and when you're a rookie, you end up playing two games. That's just the nature of the beast, and that's hard for the captain, but it's hard for the player.
ThorbjÃ¸rn is a good egg and he's a boy that will turn this around, and he might go out and show his old Danish friend that he was wrong tomorrow.
NEIL AHERN: I believe we have the singles just out, fresh off the press, and I'll call them out for you, Thomas, as you consider.
Rory McIlroy versus Justin Thomas.
Paul Casey versus Brooks Koepka.
Justin Rose versus Webb Simpson.
Jon Rahm versus Tiger Woods.
Tommy Fleetwood versus Tony Finau.
Ian Poulter versus Dustin Johnson.
ThorbjÃ¸rn Olesen versus Jordan Spieth.
Sergio Garcia versus Rickie Fowler.
Francesco Molinari versus Phil Mickelson.
Tyrrell Hatton versus Patrick Reed.
Henrik Stenson versus Bubba Watson.
And Alex Noren versus Bryson DeChambeau.
Thomas, can you give us your thoughts and your opinions on why you went for those pairings.
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Well, I mean, I can only look at -- you can guess what the other captain is going to do. I went with this setup because of personalities and the way I see them. I believe that singles are very different to pairs.
And I went with this group of guys in this order because I think it covers all the way through the order.
So I'm happy with the way it looks. Listen, if you look at the right side of this, you know, that lineup, that American lineup was always going to be extremely strong, and it doesn't matter; we need to win our points tomorrow.
Where they come from, they can come from any match. You can lose any match in The Ryder Cup and you can win any match. So we go with this, and you know, this is going to be a great contest tomorrow. We look forward to it. All we really want to do right now is get back to the team room and see if Liverpool's equalized, to be honest (laughter).
Q. I was going to ask a question about Molinari but now the pairings are out. Can you give us insight as to why you sent Rory out first, just as a statement, please?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: You know, there's a lot of reasons to send Rory out first. He's a fantastic player. He likes to play fast. He doesn't like to be held up. He likes responsibility.
So there's a lot of reasons to send him out first. He feels like he's in a place where he can go into that position and get the best out of himself. And you have conversations with Rory through time, and you know, this is where he is. In the end, somebody's got to go there. I have a lot of belief in him, and I trust him as a player, but also trust him very much as a person.
So it's a great place for him to be with responsibility.
Q. And all your players have their respective qualities. You said earlier that Molinari is on a different planet to everybody at the moment. What could you achieve if you had 12 Molinaris?
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: There's two of them that I have to deal with once in a while; we're forgetting his brother.
I don't know, what can you achieve with 12 Molinaris? You can achieve a lot, especially in this kind of event. But I don't like putting Francesco in a position where, you know, this is a team effort. This is 12 players, and we do this together.
I keep saying to you guys that this is not a question of just the guys that's on the golf course winning the points, because the guys that win the points on the golf course, they do that because of the environment that they are in. That's what this team is about.
We've been playing with eight in every session, but it's about 12, and we felt like we've been a whole team on the golf course every session, and that's what we need to do tomorrow. We need to get out there, and every single one has to deliver.
But this is a different kind of thing. This is the 12 individuals and what they do, every week, as a professional golfer, this is what they have to do, that perspective they have to deliver from tomorrow.
So it's different tomorrow. But you know, any professional golfer would like to play the way Francesco has played over the last two days.
Q. Coming back to this, you did a great job with keeping the momentum in the morning coming out. How do you see things now going into tomorrow, as the red did come back a little bit today.
THOMAS BJÃ˜RN: Well, I mean, momentum is always important, but you know, I can see this going blue and I can see this going red. I don't have a crystal ball, and I can't predict what's going to happen tomorrow. I have a strong belief in these 12, and I've had it all week. I've had it since we got together on Monday, and that's the only thing I can focus on.
I don't like predicting anything about each match. I don't like to predict anything about how this is going to go tomorrow. We stay focused on what's right in front of us, and what's right in front of us is food, drink, sleep, and then we wake up tomorrow and then we go with these 12 players.
We can't change anything. These are the ones we have, and I wouldn't want to change anything. I'm really, really proud of what they have done these two days.
NEIL AHERN: Thomas, on that note, thank you and best of luck tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports