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October 10, 2018

Thomas Bjorn

Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Q. Thomas, many thanks for joining us. A week and a bit on from the Ryder Cup. Just start with that. Just give us your kind of thoughts, now that you've had a bit of time to absorb everything and give us a sense of the reaction you've had in that period.
THOMAS BJØRN: Well, it's been pretty good fun, to be honest. You know, you come down, and obviously it takes a lot out of you, and I ran into a bit of illness last week, but I guess that was just a normal come-down from such a big event. Just everywhere you go, I think people enjoyed themselves, either being there or watching it. I think when you're in it, you don't really realise -- you're so focused and determined on what's happening right there and with the players, you don't kind of take in the whole atmosphere of it.

And then when you watch it back -- I watched a bit of it back, and you start realising how good it was because I've lived with Ryder Cups as a player and as a vice captain since '97, and I lived it up all my life as a fan, and you realise seeing those pictures how special an occasion it was.

It's been fun to reflect on, and it's been great. I keep saying to those 12, we'll always have that moment in time where that's for us, and that's pretty special. It's something that will live with us for the rest of our lives, and that's pretty cool to have, to be honest.

Q. And obviously this week you had a couple of shots to get back into the swing of things last night, and then it's back to the day job this week.
THOMAS BJØRN: Well, I got on the range -- I got here on Monday and stood on the range and realised I had pretty much not hit a golf shot since Denmark, which was -- that range is quite wide, but it looked pretty narrow, I have to say, for the first few shots.

Yeah, I'm in that position now where it's a bit like just showing up at a golf tournament and enjoying what the Ryder Cup was all about and enjoy moments with those players, and we reflect together.

The great thing about this Tour, and I said that on Sunday of the Ryder Cup, what we are as a Ryder Cup team also is what we are as a Tour, and it's every member of the Tour, it's every member of staff, it's all the people that comes out of the European Tour that would have enjoyed that moment. Those are the only thoughts that would have went through my mind apart from looking after the players and what was happening on Sunday. It's all about everybody that's involved in this, and that's a great thing, and when you come out here, you realise that everybody has been glued to the TV, everybody has taken a high interest in those three days in Paris, and that makes you feel like we did something really special. That's nice to be part of.

The next few weeks for me is being out on Tour and trying to get back to playing a bit of golf. But shooting 84-64 is not really going to make any difference in my mind at this moment in time. I'm going to enjoy 2018 for all the good things that it brought.

Q. What's the strangest or best reaction you've had?
THOMAS BJØRN: There was a couple of people in Hackney that knows me now that I don't think knew me before the Ryder Cup, so there's sort of been a difference. But to be honest, I haven't really put myself about. I put myself about on Monday and Tuesday after the Ryder Cup, and then I went to Ireland for four days and just got my head down and tried to recover. So I haven't really gotten into those situations, and then I came down here. I'm in environments where it's just been the golf environment.

It'll be interesting to see when -- when Björn Ulvaeus said to me he was watching and was proud of us, I said, hmm, I grew up with him in the '70s and '80s. I'm one of these people that listened to other songs in Swedish when I was a kid that not many people know that they made all their songs in Swedish before they made them in English. So I grew up with that. But that was a pretty special moment that I'll treasure, as well, that you get put into a situation that's just so far beyond the golf, the golfing world, and that's what the Ryder Cup is. It just pushes some different buttons.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: No, I just wanted to kind of have a -- the pictures I had in my head of what happened, if they were the same as what actually happened. And yeah, I had a pretty good -- I positioned myself well on the golf course through the days. I always felt like I was in control of what was going on. But the pictures you watch on TV, they actually -- are they actually in the right order, and I tried to figure out if everything was happening in that order, and it was pretty much down to that. There was a lot of -- it was delayed, and so I couldn't really make out where people was when I was standing there on 15 and 18, especially on Sunday.

So I just tried to get an idea of how everything actually unfolded. But I was pretty much there in my head.

Q. (On second-guessing Sergio as a captain's pick)
THOMAS BJØRN: Not really. I know what Sergio brings, and I said at the time, for me with Sergio, it wasn't about just what he did on the golf course. Now, he went and played great and delivered exactly what he said he was going to deliver, and I think that makes him feel great about what he did. But I had such a good idea of what he would bring to the team and to the whole environment that I was never second-guessing that, and I would never -- I'm not one to sit there and say I told you so, because Sergio could have showed up and not won points. He could have played well and lost matches, and that happens in the Ryder Cup. There's guys that came there and played well and didn't get as much out of it as they wanted on both sides, but that's the Ryder Cup.

To sit there and say, oh, I told you that he was going to come and do this, nobody can predict that with any player in the Ryder Cup, so that's not what it's about. But in the end, what you try and get across to players is that it doesn't matter what you do on the golf course. When you look in the top left-hand corner of the TV and there's a result there, that's what matters, and that's the only thing that we're trying to do together. Doesn't matter who delivers them. But you have to have that environment through the 12 of them and everybody around them where they have the opportunity to deliver their best, and for me -- and that wouldn't be for every captain, but for me he was a crucial part of that.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: It would be difficult. It would be difficult. But as I said, these next few months, it's just about coming back down to earth and trying to find myself and figure out what's in store for me going forward, and that kind of determination as a golfer leaves you in those two years, and if I want to still play, we'll have to come back, and I need to figure out -- I can't stand up and say, okay, I'm going to go full at it now and that's the only focus I'm going to have, because that has left me, especially in the last 12 months. So I need a bit of time to figure out if I have that motivation, if I have that -- because it's going to take a lot of hard work. At 47, pretty much two years away, it's going to take a lot of hard work to get back to playing good golf. I watch them play in the Ryder Cup and see how they hit it, that's pretty daunting in itself. I've got to do some pretty special stuff to get myself back to playing competitive. I need the next few months to figure out if that's what I want to do or if I want to do something else.

I can't say anything that it motivated me to be a golfer, watching it from the sidelines, because it always does, and I might go back to playing, and if I do that, then I will focus 100 per cent on that.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: Yeah, but they're quite good at letting me know that they don't want to talk to me anymore, that I have no importance to their lives anymore going forward. Even if I want to talk to them, they don't want to talk to me.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: Very rarely in the European team have we dealt with anything, and I have no idea what went on in their team room and what's true and what's not true. It's difficult for me to pass any judgment on their team room. Anybody that thinks that the vice captains doesn't play a big role in the Ryder Cup is very, very much mistaken in that because they take on all those things.

The place where the players put their most trust and probably talked more honestly about anything is with the vice captains, and if you have good vice captains, they pick up everything that goes on, and then it's easy to deal with.

Nobody comes in there and tries to create any sort of trouble or -- but everybody has strong opinions, and they're very individual in what they do, so they obviously all want to be on the golf course, and you've got to pick up on things. But you do that when you have very strong vice captains. Those five did such a great job for me during the buildup and during the week, and we never got in a situation where we felt like it was something where we had to work hard.

You have at any time people that are not playing being disappointed by not playing, and that's what you want from them. You want them to want to be out on the golf course, but you deal with that, and everybody but the end of Sunday realised that we'd done that as a team, and that was a team of not 12 players and me, but with vice captains and everybody around, and we made it work.

To maybe sit down and say what if this happens or what if that happens, because really weird things can happen and you can't make plans for everything, but you can make sure you've got good people around you to deal with these situations, and I trusted them 100 per cent.

You know, one of those things that came up was to no fault of his own, Thorbjørn not playing on Saturday, but just the way I saw it unfolding and I felt like with our four-balls, I wanted to go in a different route. I wanted to keep Rory on the golf course, and all of those things kind of develop in front of you, and he to be honest probably deserved to play on Saturday, and I felt like, well, I suppose what he wants to see is me. I have to go and tell him on Saturday morning that he wasn't playing Saturday afternoon, and that was a really, really difficult thing for me to do with how big and influence I've had on his life, not just as a Ryder Cup player but in general and how good friends we are. And I just made sure that Pádraig stayed close to him for that morning and was with him all the time talking to him. I had Lee with him on the golf course on Sunday making sure -- right close to him and being there, strong players that he looks up to. Any player that plays in Europe would look at and go, well, they are, Ryder Cup wise and otherwise, great, great players, that they feel comfortable. And then on Sunday night him and I sat down and had a chat, and he got it on Sunday night, but he might not have gotten it on Saturday, that he just got caught in that -- a Ryder Cup team is 12 players, but somebody is going to be left out, and that feels like they should be on the golf course because that's just the nature of it, and that's what makes it interesting for you guys to write about and look at.

But it's certainly the one thing that for a captain makes it really, really difficult to get through the week, because you're making so many great decisions for some and so many negative decisions for others during the week, and you've got to try and balance that moves with the whole thing.

But that goes back to what I said. Look at what's in the top left-hand corner at the end of it, and everybody is happy if it's a positive result for us.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: I mean, I think there's a lot of things put into those things that are said. You know, I didn't witness anything -- I saw both Brooks and Dustin on Sunday night, and I was standing talking to them both together. That was all I saw of them. Phil, I mean, I read what he said, and to be fair to Phil, a lot of that is a bit taken out of context in the sense that he just thinks at his age and the way he plays now, those aren't the type of golf courses that fit him. Should you say it? Maybe not, but he's said the comment the week after when he's played well, and that's the nature of it.

You know, I said at the time after -- I couldn't see Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth not playing together for their relationship. Jim will have to answer those questions about what he did, but from where I stood, I think he had the comfort of the players. Speaking to the American players during the week, as we do, because we are friends across the teams, they felt comfortable. They felt good about what Jim did. But if he got something wrong, well, that's for him to answer and for his vice captains and the team to answer, not me.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: Well, that's a process to go through, and I think you've got to look at are we covering all bases. But I've always said when you've got somebody that's a three-time major champion and has the pedigree that Pádraig has and holds the respect of the players that he does, it would be difficult to see him not doing it at some stage, and if he wants it this time around, it's difficult to get around that he is very much the favourite to get the job.

But also would like to see these next two couple of months pass. As much as when we lose, we try and just calm ourselves down, I think we also need to calm ourselves down when we win. We've got to let these 12 players enjoy this Ryder Cup and what was 2018 in Paris before we start looking forward to Whistling Straits.

You can make these decisions too quickly, and there's plenty of time. I think I found as a captain being announced on the 6th of December I think I did in 2016, I think maybe having that role was a little bit too long for me in the sense that you're so eager to get going and there's nothing to get going with. So you feel like you're talking to people that are still coming down from a Ryder Cup that's just happened.

The system is not quite there to support you as an incoming captain, so don't make these -- my recommendation, guys sitting in the back corner here, don't make this decision too quickly because there's no point. You're not helping the incoming captain by making the decision too soon.

Q. Do you think Pádraig would be a good captain in America?
THOMAS BJØRN: Well, he's Irish, and they have this beautiful relationship with the Americans, and that will do him well. Pádraig has a great relationship -- he has a great relationship with the players on the PGA Tour for all the years he's played there. He's a past PGA champion, which helps in the relationship with the PGA of America, and Ireland does have a special relationship with the Americans. So there's a lot of things that plays into his hands to being a captain in America.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: Yeah, I mean, there's going to be probably over the next couple, there's going to be a few changes and some very heavy Europeans that are going to -- that are coming to the end of their Ryder Cup careers, but there's a new bunch coming through that are very, very good and had a very successful Ryder Cup. So they'll be ready to take over.

But it's not going to get -- the Americans are not going to get any easier to deal with. There's no doubt about that. They've got very young players that are very good, and that's what faces Europeans going forward.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: Yeah, I think so. I have a great love for this game, and I have a great love for this Tour, and so, yeah, I'll stay around the game in some way, shape or form, but I've made no decisions, and I like playing, but I say anybody that's played at a high level, you hate playing poorly, and so that's not something that I want to do. I've got to look at Seniors Tour and stuff like that, is that something I want to do, or do I call it a day with my active career and then move somewhere else.

But those things will just kind of develop as we go forward. It takes a lot of hard work to compete today, and does the body allow that, does my mind allow that, that's something that I'll kind of have to get to grips with over the next few months.

Q. (No microphone.)
THOMAS BJØRN: You might see me smile on the golf course. I don't know. Are you going to -- as a professional player, you're always striving to do the best things that you can do, and those things will never leave you. I am what I am, and I tried to show my captains who I am, as well. Sometimes I probably get shown in a little bit of a different light. Who I really am in a week like that is -- I enjoyed doing that, I enjoyed playing that role, and that's something I can see myself -- would love to play a role for somebody else in the way that you try and lead somebody forward.

I felt like -- I feel like sitting here today that the Ryder Cup brought out the best in me as a captain. It really did. That's something I'll take personally away from their thinking, well, for me that was a great experience in how I feel about myself.

You know, the way I am as a golfer when I play, well, frustration comes out through my golf because I'm a perfectionist in the way I want to play and know I can play the game, so that sometimes has gotten in the way of certain things.

But when you are captaining, you don't ever really get into those situations where you're frustrated -- where it's a frustration that comes out. I always look at how do I deal with the situation and move those 12 players in the right direction. That was always my feeling with it, so I never allowed myself to get in a position where I got frustrated with me because it was never about me, it was about those 12.

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