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July 18, 2002

Thomas Bjorn


STEWART McDOUGAL: Thomas Bjorn, 68. Tell us how your round went this morning, Thomas.

THOMAS BJORN: I got a nice start this morning. I hit some good shots on the first three holes and made three birdies and it was one of those things that I really needed. My game has been right there around the corner. I haven't putted well lately. All of a sudden I was off to a start, starting to relax a bit and feeling comfortable out there. I threw in a few bogeys during the round, but any time after a bogey I seemed to bounce back with a birdie afterwards, and that was pretty much the key. I feel comfortable about my game. I've been looking forward to this tournament for a long time. I wanted to come in here feeling ready for this tournament. I haven't really bothered too much about my sights lately. I've been working hard on my game getting ready for this week and the results haven't been there. I felt good coming in here and played my practice rounds and I was out there on my own about 6, 7:00 in the morning and just doing my things and I just felt comfortable about the golf course. I felt comfortable about links courses now and I sort of draw a lot of confidence from playing the 2000 Open at St. Andrews where I finished second. That gave me the confidence to play this type of golf course. Because I didn't grow up playing this type of golf, so I needed something in an Open Championship to give me that confidence, and I certainly feel very comfortable on this golf course and on any links golf course.

Q. You had a lovely shot on the 3rd?

THOMAS BJORN: I hit an 8-iron. I hit a lot of good shots today. I hit a few loose ones on holes where you're looking to make birdie. I played the Par 5s at one over par and that's certainly not the way you want to play the Par 5s on this golf course, but that's just what happened. I had a few loose shots off the tees on the Par 5s and didn't give myself a chance to make birdie and that's why I feel happy with my round, because to play the Par 5s at 1 over and shoot 3 under on this golf course is very very good.

Q. You lost one or two shots to the right.

THOMAS BJORN: Yes, I got -- it's the first time in probably 10 years I used a 1-iron and it actually felt very good in practice and I was hitting it very well and then you're standing there and I'm not used to seeing a club face like that, and I'm working on it and it certainly should be a good club for me this week because I can just hit it very low and get that just rolling out in the fairway, and I think that's the key to this golf course. A lot of guys seem to try to take on too much and try to hit shots up in the air and anything you have to do here is just hit something just on the fairway and just let it roll, 50, 60 yards, and it just seems like a good golf course this week.

Q. This year has been a good year for things?

THOMAS BJORN: I'm trying to restore order. Yes, it has been a good year. There's a lot of talented players coming out; not only Denmark, but Scandinavia, in general, and Soren and Anders have both won this year. I've been talking to them a lot. I've been pushing them a lot, it seems like about time they won, I thought. They're both talented and they've got a very good mind as well, and it was nice to see Anders won the PGA Championship and I think Soren I believe he could do it as well. And when he won that playoff in Ireland and it's nice to see them come out and produce the things they're both capable of and they both have bright futures ahead of them.

Q. The gallery following you, is their success as well as yours stirring interest at home?

THOMAS BJORN: Definitely, golf is growing a lot in the country and I think people are now starting to take a big interest on what is going on out here. I think that's going to bring out more things - crowds, and hopefully in the future, it will bring golf tournaments to Denmark as well. I think that's our next step. But it's just nice for me to see that there is a couple of guys that are now taking on the challenge of performing out here, and they've both got big tournaments coming up ahead of them and this is where you want to be. You want to be here, in the Majors and World Golf Championships, and it's easy to get into the stride of playing the regular tour, but this is what it's all about. Regular tour events don't compare to these kind of tournaments.

Q. Why the 1-iron instead of a 2-iron? Is that an old club?

THOMAS BJORN: Just something that goes really low on this golf course, where you don't take -- you just -- I see this golf course being played with a 1-iron, get it on the fairway and let it roll from there. I hit my 2-iron too high. I feel comfortable with that club. That's the way I see the golf course being played and that's -- you can almost play this golf course without any woods, just go out there and just keep the ball in play, because it's not a long golf course. And there's certainly a lot of birdie chances with irons off the tee.

Q. Is that an old club or new club?


Q. First time you practiced with it was this week?


Q. What kind is it? Then I will ask my real question.

THOMAS BJORN: Do you really want me to answer that?

Q. Yes.

THOMAS BJORN: It's a Callaway.

Q. As much as you've put so much emphasis on this tournament, was there any concern that so much emphasis might put a lot of pressure on you to perform?

THOMAS BJORN: No, because I've done my own things. I haven't really talked to anybody about it. I felt that I just needed to go and do my own things, concentrate on this tournament, prepare myself for this tournament and I haven't really talked to anybody about that, so I don't feel -- I always feel pressure when I start letting out what it is I want to do, then the pressure starts, but I just kept this to myself. This is what I wanted to do. I came in here with the belief I could play well in this golf tournament and I think this is my biggest chance of doing well in a Major Championship and probably my biggest chance of winning a Major Championship.

Q. What made you believe this could be your best chance?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, I think St. Andrews I played well at Birkdale, finished top 10 at Birkdale, finished second at Birkdale, and if it wasn't for one guy, I would have been in there right in the mix of things at St. Andrews and I just felt that this type of golf course suits me very well. I play a lot of golf with my imagination. I see shots. I don't really go out there and I feel uncomfortable sometimes when (inaudible) I like playing Augusta because you have to see shots, you have to use your imagination around the golf course, and that's just the way I like to play golf. And I'm the type of player, when it's difficult, I sometimes get a lot better than when it's too easy.

Q. Is this the first time you've played a lot of practice rounds for majors?

THOMAS BJORN: Yes. Actually this is the future for me in my practice leading into a major. I feel when I go out there and do my own thing, there's nothing gets to me and I'm very focused on what I do, and I don't have to concentrate about anybody else. And I just want to be out there, and that's why I go out there between 6 and 7:00 in the morning, just on my own. Sometimes you feel a little bit stupid when you walk on the range at 9:30 in the morning, and you are done with your practice round and it is a long day ahead of you, but it's a good way to prepare and we see it in a lot of guys now. It gets busy at 7:00 on the golf course in practice rounds.

Q. How do you hit a 1-iron well?

THOMAS BJORN: Like any other iron. I think sometimes when you get long irons in your hand, people are very guilty of hitting too hard and trying too much, just putting a nice smooth swing because the club will do the work for you.

Q. What was your mind set at Dubai and how does that impact you now at this stage of your career?

THOMAS BJORN: It's nice to have something like that but when, you know, it gets tough and when you're up against them you have a chance. But that's a different story, that's the regular tournament. There's a lot more things that comes with this and if that would be the case, well, that would be a new situation, but it's nice to have it with you that you've done it. I think with all the majors he's got in the bag he will have a big advantage on Sunday if that would be the case.

Q. What were you feeling or thinking that day at Dubai?

THOMAS BJORN: I just felt very comfortable with my game. I knew I had a good game and I knew I could play some solid, good golf and just kept putting pressure on him and that's often what happens. What we see is he puts pressure on a lot of other people. I just kept hitting good shots when it mattered and that's the only way you can get to him. I think it is just put the game to him and most of the time he's going to take it on and beat you, but sometimes he's going to let it slip. I felt good there. I felt that I could do it and that's just one of those feelings you don't get it very often, but I felt I could do it and it was a nice experience and I can draw on that now, but this is a Major Championship.

Q. If I'm not mistaken, I think you were paired in the third round at Pebble Beach. What was that experience like compared to Dubai?

THOMAS BJORN: That was a tough day for me. I didn't play particularly well, and I have to say that's the best golf I've ever seen anybody play, the way he played at Pebble and that's what he's capable of. I don't kick myself and think anybody is closing the gap. I think this guy is special. He's ahead of everybody and when he plays his best, he's going to win golf tournaments. You've got to stand up. When he doesn't play his best, you have to stand up and try to beat him. When he plays his best, I think he's ahead of everybody else.

Q. What came out of the bag when you put the 1-iron in?

THOMAS BJORN: A 4-wood. That's not a club here.

Q. Did you hit a driver at all?

THOMAS BJORN: I hit four drivers today.

Q. Many putts, Thomas?

THOMAS BJORN: Not many. I don't know, but I don't know. Not many.

Q. I know you know Justin Rose. For him to come back after he turned pro, after having problems, how much respect is there for him in the club house?

THOMAS BJORN: You're talking about one of the biggest talents that the game has ever seen. He's a massive talent. He has a great mind, and he went through a very very rough time, but that's why he's so good as he is today.

He's got a great future ahead of him, and what he did today, he was so much up for it. He couldn't wait to get out there. Not a lot of guys would be like that if they are going out in the British Open being English and playing with Tiger Woods. They would be scared. He went out there and took it on and played lovely golf.

All the credit to him. Justin has had a great year. Justin has a lot of confidence. But he is a big, big talent. He's going to do good things and if it's not this year, it will be in the future. He went through a rough spell, but when you are, it's difficult to get yourself out of it, but he's matured and he's gone out there and shown the golf world and he is that good. And I think the players have -- especially in Europe have a lot of respect for Justin and what he's gone through and he will go on to big things.

Q. When you came along as a pioneer there, who were the people you looked at for inspiration?

THOMAS BJORN: I grew up with having looking at people that were idols to me, not somebody I knew. I mean, I was always a great admirer of Faldo the way he approached the game. To me, he was the player at the time when I started playing good golf, he was the player of that time. I have great admiration for him as a golfer and the way he played the game, and I looked at star players and today I know them, but at that time I didn't have any clue who they were and how they were, but I just always looked to other players and I had a great admiration for him, I had a great admiration for Seve. I always loved the way Seve played the game, and I think just watching him and seeing where he played the game was just -- I tried to build the imagination that he always played the game with and I think as a kid, I really worked hard on using my head instead of just hitting golf shots and that's something that I can use today.

STEWART McDOUGAL: Thomas, thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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