home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


May 23, 2001

Thomas Bjorn


RODDY WILLIAMS: Thomas, welcome to the Volvo PGA Championship. May as well give us a few thoughts on how you are playing at the moment and being here this week.

THOMAS BJORN: I'm really close at the moment. I didn't -- I didn't perform last week the way I wanted to do. I had just a fracture with my back last week; was just a fraction too much for me. It was nothing of the old injuries. It was just something that came on in Germany. I don't know what it was really, but it disappeared quick. I'm fine now. But I'm very close to playing well. I played all right and got a good result at the Benson and Hedges -- after the first 27 holes last week and then just disappeared a little bit. I'm very, very close to playing well. I'm bringing the right kind of form into the right time of the year. I think just getting closer and closer to doing well this week. British Masters coming up and the U.S. Open. It's actually a lot better than the results show, but that's the way golf is sometimes, and I think I'm on the right track.

RODDY WILLIAMS: Anything in particular that you're working on?

THOMAS BJORN: I disappeared a bit from doing what I -- when I started working with Pete Cohen last year in the Irish Open. We really started working on some exercises that were going to improve my game, and I had to keep doing the exercises, and all of the sudden you start playing so well and you start thinking, well, I've done all the exercises and everything is in the right place and you forget to do the exercises, and then all of the sudden, the game just goes in the wrong direction. So we've just gone back to where we were about seven or eight months ago, doing those exercises again. Really trying to work hard on the right things, and now we know even though when I am playing well, I still have to keep doing those things to improve all the time, and I think that was probably the key. We sat down after -- well, early this week and said, well, we really need to go back to basics and do all of the things all over again and get you on the right track, because the last 12 months for me has been very good. I've played very well over the last 12 months, but I still need to improve to do those things better. But I've shown that I can play in the bigger stage and I've shown that I can go up against the best players in the world. I just need to do it more often. I think everything is coming on better and better, but I still have a long way to go.

Q. Can we have an example of one of these exercises you do? I assume they are purely for golf, as opposed to anything to do with your back?

THOMAS BJORN: These are pure golf exercises. It's pretty easy to -- it's pretty easy to walk on the range and see what I'm doing. That's probably the best way to show it to anybody.

Q. Stretching?

THOMAS BJORN: No. It's golfing exercises. It keeps my hips in the right place. It keeps my legs in the right place, and that's always been my big problem, my legs are wandering all over the place when I'm not playing well. Really exercises to really strengthen my golf swing. I do a lot of exercises away from the course to strengthen my back, but these are things that I need to do, and these are the things that the best players in the world do; they do the same things over and over again, because they know what they play well with, and why try and change something that's working. And we've seen it plenty of times, the good players trying to just change everything to make it even better, but it never works.

Q. So that's an awful lot of time you're spending every day exercising if you do your back and golf exercising?

THOMAS BJORN: Practising is exercising, really, and we just found out if I do these exercises, it will be better than standing there hitting golf balls, because hitting golf balls is not going to improve your golf swing unless you know exactly what you are working on. All of these exercises I do is, to try and improve my golf, and that's the only way I'm going to get to where I want to go is by improving my golf game.

Q. When your legs wander all over the place, as you put it, what are the shots that you hit? What are the faults that follow on from your legs wandering all over the place?

THOMAS BJORN: Pretty much all the bad shots you can think of. I've got a leap shot that starts pretty much down the right and leaps off to the right and that seems to be -- when I start hitting that shot on the golf course, that's when I know that now you have to be careful with the way you swing the golf club from now on in until you can get on the driving range again. And what often happens, when you start leaking one to the right, you know that's not going to happen again and all of the sudden you hit one that goes left because you are trying to protect yourself from hitting the one right. I know when they start leaking right, then I have to be very careful, and maybe just keep myself in play and take -- just take the foot off the gas a little bit and just get myself into the clubhouse.

Q. Going back to Pebble Beach, what was your mood leaving after the U.S. Open last year?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, I tell you what, I sat in -- I actually remember it very clear. I sat in the car with Ken, my caddy and my coach at that time and I said: "Well, you can do two things from here. You can go back from here being very disappointed with the way you played in that third round, or you can go back from here shooting two 70s in the first two rounds at Pebble Beach, playing with Tiger on Saturday in the last group; that's got to be some positive. You've got to take some positive out of that. You know now that you can play on that stage for two rounds. You were pretty much even with the best player in the world for the first two rounds. There shouldn't be any reason why you couldn't do it for four rounds, but you've got to have experience to do it for four rounds." So, I went back and I thought, "Well, I've done it at Pebble Beach, I know I can do it, just go out next major and see if you can do it again." And I went to the Open, and I knew when I went to the Open that I could perform well and I went out at the Open and did it. I mean, I played really well at the Open. Obviously, the way Tiger played at the U.S. Open and the British Open was just phenomenal, and that's what he was last week; that's what he does and that's what he does best. He's exceptional when he's on, but, on a week you can beat him on the long run, I say it all the time, on the week you can beat him but on the long run he's going to be better than anybody else.

Q. You said you could either take a positive as you did?

THOMAS BJORN: Or be disappointed. I didn't want to go back disappointed. I didn't want to go back from the U.S. Open disappointed because my golf is not about achieving a result one week. My golf is about getting result -- results over a long period, over a long time, and you've got to learn to play under those circumstances. I'm more comfortable in Europe than I am in America, because when I play in Europe I know all the guys. I know what I'm up against, I know what every single player on this tour is capable of. When I go to America, I don't know what is going to hit me. When I played with Tiger, I had not played with him enough when I played with him at the U.S. Open you don't know what is going on on the golf course. I feel more comfortable today playing with Tiger than I would do playing with Phil Mickelson because I've played with Tiger 15 times. I've played with Mickelson once, so I don't know what Mickelson is capable of. I know what Tiger is capable of, and that's -- that makes you comfortable. And you've got to be comfortable to win golf tournaments, because as the Americans say, "These guys are good." It's not a question of you go out there and you just play golf. You go out there and play against the best players in the world, and you've got to beat them, but it's nice to know what the guys are capable of doing, so you can be comfortable with the situation. And I'm comfortable in Europe and that's why when I'm up there in Europe, I very rarely fall away. But, I still got a few things to learn about America and what the guys can do over there, but I played -- I play in the biggest tournaments in America, where the best fields are playing. When you come to play a normal tournament in America -- I played at Hilton Head; those guys are not as good as people make them out to be. There is one guy over there that is a lot better than everybody else, but in the World Rankings today, look at how well the Europeans are doing, we are probably doing as good as we did since late the 80s, early 90s. We've probably never been as stronger in the World Rankings than we are now. And that's -- that just goes to show that this tour is a lot stronger than people make it out to be. Tiger just makes their tour so much -- there's so much focus on their tour. He is phenomenal, but, I think this tour is coming together very, very strong now, and I think we've got some fantastic players here, and we've got some great fields. And that's why Tiger, all of the guys that come over from America, enjoy coming to Europe to play because the competition here is hard. If they just came over and won easily, they wouldn't bother.

Q. The Ryder Cup?

THOMAS BJORN: I think we look very strong. We knew last time that we were -- we had to build a team for the future, and that was part of building a team for the future last time. They came very close. There was not many people that when that team went to America thought they were going to go close, but they came very close and that was -- that was -- that shows strength, how strong the Europeans were in strength and depth on our tour, and we have come two years since then and we are even stronger now. So, I think we've got one of the best chances ever going into the Ryder Cup, and the Ryder Cup always shows different. Even though we are underdogs by ten points sometimes, we go into this Ryder Cup stronger than we ever have.

Q. How far behind are you?

THOMAS BJORN: How far behind Tiger am I? A long way behind, but I think everybody is. See, to be honest about Tiger, this is the type of guy that comes along once in a hundred years in any sport. He's not -- you can't say too young guys that come out, well, you do all of these things, you'll be as good as Tiger. He's more talent than any other golf player. He's got all of the things working for him. He's worked hard for it, but you can only work so hard and become so good. Your talent is what takes you beyond all the things that's been achieved before, and his talent is unbelievable. And then combined with all his fitness regime, all of his hard work on the driving range and all of the things he's done, he's the type of guy that just comes along -- I mean, Michael Jordan is what people compare him to in America, and there's not a basketball player that even comes close to Michael Jordan since he's retired, and it doesn't look like there's going to be anybody that's close for years. Eventually, somebody will come along that will be as good or even better, but it might take 50 years, we never know. But I don't think these young kids that come out that are 15 to 20 years old and they are great players -- and then people all of the sudden start looking at them and trying to say, well, you're going to be the next Tiger Woods, you're going to beat Tiger Woods; I don't think they are going to do that. One of them might be that talent, but I don't think any of the players that come out has got the same abilities as he has. And I think when Sergio went close at the PGA everybody was looking at him saying he's going to be the next Tiger Woods and we are going to have this great battle between Tiger and Sergio for being the best player in the world. I don't think Sergio is as good as Tiger. I don't think anybody thinks Sergio is as good as Tiger. Sergio is a fantastic player, but he doesn't have the same abilities as Tiger Woods does. So, it's actually a shame to point a finger at him and say, "Tiger is not doing all of the things we thought he was going to do"? Well, Sergio is achieving fantastic things and he's going in the right direction with his career, but I don't think he's going to go past Tiger Woods. That's the way I look at it. I don't think -- I don't think we should really expect that anybody is going to beat this guy over the long run. I think we can beat him on any given day because we are all good players and a person can go out and shoot the low number and Tiger can shoot 27 and the rest of us can shoot 62. On any given day, we can beat him but over a long career, he's just phenomenal.

Q. Do you like the fact that you only come across Tiger now and again, as opposed to playing against him all season long?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, I like playing against the best players. I like to play in the strongest fields as possible. I think -- I think it is at times nice to just be in Europe and play against the Europeans and not really bother too much about the Americans, but I would like to see more golf tournaments like the World Championships, where the best players in the world come together and we play against each other. We do it now seven times a year. If you take Sawgrass into consideration; it's eight times a year. I would like to see us play maybe 15, 16 events where it is the strongest fields, and it should be a full field of 156 players every time. And then let's go out there and see who is the best. And who is the best? There's no doubt who is the best. But let's just get this in that distribution where we get everybody out there because everybody is yelling and screaming, who is the best, is it the Americans or is it the Europeans. Well, we'll never know unless we actually play together all the time.

Q. Is it sad, then, that we have several of our players go to their PGA. They don't have any coming here this week?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, it's quite logical why they don't come over here. And Vijay and Ernie are here. They are not Americans, but their main base is America, and they are here and they always like to come away from America and play. Tiger was there last week. But I understand 100%. If I was American and I could play 15 tournaments in America for three times the prize money we do in Europe, I wouldn't get my passport out. I would just stay there. There is no reason for them to come over here. And you've got to understand why they stay at home. I feel it's a shame whenever they start saying -- some of them start saying poor things about the Open and some of those tournaments that are some of the best tournaments -- the Open is probably the best tournament in the world. I feel that's a shame some of them have been in the past saying bad things about the Open and some of the European tournaments. But I can understand why they like to be in America and play in America. But the Open, taken aside, we don't really have the tournaments that compete with their biggest tournaments. We are getting close with this one, the European Open, TPC, I mean, the Volvo Masters. They are great events and we are getting close with our biggest events. But in general, they are playing for a lot more money over there, and I tell you what, when you play over there and you finish 12th in a normal tournament, tied with seven others and you go home with $70,000, you feel quite happy.

Q. As a small boy, I presume that you would have thought, "I want to be the best in the world," as you are ambitious, what is it like knowing that that spot isn't open to you, the thought that Tiger and the rest of you are all fighting for second place? What is that like for your morale?

THOMAS BJORN: I think we are getting used to it. (Smiles). I think you can look at it two ways. You can try and destroy yourself over not being able to become No. 1 in the world, and if you can't become No. 1 in the world why even bother thinking about it. Why don't you just go out there, enjoy playing in the tournaments, do as well as you can and just appreciate that you live in the era of the best player that's ever played the game. He's brought a lot to this game. He's brought a lot of money to my bank account, I know that, so thank God he's playing when I am out there. I can only appreciate what Tiger does for the game. I can only appreciate that he is a fantastic player and he's No. 1 in the world. I think -- I think I heard Ernie once say something like, "Well, if you can ever get to a 14-point average on the World Rankings, that would be the maximum." The guy is on 32 or 33 points now. If you look on the World Rankings, if you take that, he should be three times as good as Phil Mickelson who is second in the World Rankings. The guy is fantastic. There is nothing you can say. So, why don't you just leave it and say, well, he is No. 1 and then you play -- if you play your best, you'll be No. 2. But, if you are No. 2 behind the best player that's ever played the game, you're doing pretty well.

Q. Does this represent the view of other players? Have you talked to other players about this?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, I think -- I don't know what other players -- some don't like talking about Tiger. Some don't -- some say they think they can beat him; be better than him. I just don't kid myself. I know I can't be better than him, so why brother bother. I mean, I've beaten him. I've played better than him over 72 holes, so I know I can beat him, on the week. But I can't beat the guy over 10 years. So why even bother? I don't -- I don't consider that great an issue for me. I always said my golf career is about getting me the results that I can get and do as good as I can do. And if that takes me to 16th in the world where I am now, or if it takes me to 50th in the world or takes me to second or first one day, it doesn't matter. I'll sit down when I'm 45 and say: "This was my golf career, have you achieved everything you wanted to achieve?" And if I say yes, then I'll go back a happy man.

Q. When will he stop being No. 1?

THOMAS BJORN: I think if he keeps this desire to play -- the desire he has right now to play, if he can keep that going, he can be No. 1 for the next 10, 15 years. I think eventually he's going to lose the desire.

Q. What makes you think that?

THOMAS BJORN: Well, I think -- I think when you go out and play on the level he does, and you travel as much as he does, and he -- he's in that contention situation pretty much every week he plays, I think eventually you are going to say: Just don't want to do it anymore, I've had enough. I mean, I won my 30-odd majors. I won my 140 tournaments. What else do I need to do? I don't have the desire to do this anymore. I think he will keep playing golf. I think he will play for a long, long time, but eventually, he won't have the desire to chase down the goals as he does right now. We've seen it in the past with players that were arguably the best players in the world at the time, and all of the sudden, something else became more important, and then they just -- they still play the game, but they just don't have the desire to chase down the goals. And they don't spend six, seven hours on the driving range and really work hard on their game. They do something else, and they can't understand why their game has disappeared. Go out on that driving range -- you've got to stand in line to get a spot today. There's thousands of young people out there hitting golf balls every day. If you lose the desire, somebody is going to overtake you.

Q. Do you actually think he is going to win 30 majors?

THOMAS BJORN: He's done pretty well at the moment. Five out of the last six, I think it is, and four in a row. He's doing pretty well. I only think Tiger sets a limit for how many majors he's going to win right now. He can win as many as he really wants. I just -- I've seen it in action at the majors. I've seen -- I mean, I know how a player feels when you are right in there in a major, and the look in his eyes is -- it's just different. He puts on a completely different face when he plays a major championship than when he plays any other tournament. He's just so focused. He's just there with one purpose, and he just goes straight out for it. He hits every golf shot like his life is depending on it. It's easy to say, "Why aren't the rest of you doing that?" That isn't easy when you are out there for 72 holes and the whole place is just going crazy. He is very good in that situation, and I think he can win -- I think he can win 30 majors. I think he's going to beat Jack's record. But when he's going to do it, I don't know. But I think he can keep on winning. I mean, if you hear the talk among the players, it's, "Well, we used to play four majors a year; now we only play two." Because it's pretty much the feeling among the players that he is going to win at least two a year.

Q. That must mean that you have to take your chances; if he's having a poor week, you must be there?

THOMAS BJORN: I didn't think he played his -- I didn't think that he was as impressive at the Masters as he was at the U.S. Open and the British Open. I thought he didn't play probably as good as he did at the other two tournaments, but he still won it because he had such a desire to win that tournament. And in the end, he wore the other two out by his desire to win. And that just goes to show, not even when he's actually spot-on, he's got everything it takes. He can grind it out. He can do anything. And when you can do that the way he did at Augusta, then you can win any golf tournament any time you want. You almost got the feeling what he did last week -- he's 10 shots behind going into the last round, he's like, "Well, let's step it up a gear." And he's 8-under in the third round and you're thinking -- I mean I looked at the leaderboard, I was somewhere on the other nine just playing with two spectators and having my little game. But I looked at the leaderboard and I thought, "I wouldn't like to be in Michael's shoes right now," because he's coming straight at him, so fast. He kept making birdies, and he's coming straight in your face. And to have that, and to do that all the time, is fantastic. He does it again and again and again, and sometimes you would think -- I mean, if I was in that position, I know with myself, sometimes you think, look at this, time ten shots behind, I've played a lot, why should I bother? Just go out play two round, go home and prepare for next week. He doesn't. He's ten shots behind and he was 8:1 with most bookies and I think he was 14:1 with one bookie, and I think the bookie lost his job over it. 14:1, if I was ten shots behind, I would be about 150:1. He does it again and again and again.

Q. He's going to play four matches in the Ryder Cup with somebody else?

THOMAS BJORN: Yeah, you can say that. The thing about him is he can win a four-ball on his own.

Q. Changing the subject completely, to Sergio, is he the flagship of the European Tour?

THOMAS BJORN: I've got no comment.

Q. Should he be?

THOMAS BJORN: No comment. (Laughter.)

Q. On that of somebody dominating, the last three years here, Colin has dominated this event. He has not played so well coming into this event, so it much more open this week?

THOMAS BJORN: I think it's open every time. Monty is a great player. And what he's done on this golf course is great, but I don't think the things he's done is something that the best players on this tour can't beat. I still think even though he shot some fantastic scores around here, I still think Lee, Darren, myself, Campbell, Harrington, we can beat that if we play our best game. So I don't think it has ever been like, "Oh, this is Monty's event." This is very open. He comes in here playing not as good as he normally does, but he comes in here with more desire to win than in a long, long time because he has not played well and he wants to prove something. And when Monty want to prove something, he's very dangerous. So you can say that he may be not playing as well, but he's got a lot of -- he wants to show. And that's difficult position to beat him in. So I think this is very open, but I think you would always favour the top players of the Tour to do well in this tournament, because it takes good golf to play around here, and it's a big tournament. When you've got heart for the game and for the European Tour, this is a very, very important tournament.

RODDY WILLIAMS: Thomas, thanks very much and best of luck this week.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297