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September 23, 2009

Thomas Bjorn

Paul McGinley


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, I think we should just say a word of welcome to the two captains, Paul McGinley of GB&I, Thomas Björn for Continental Europe. Guys, it's your first crack at captaincy. How much are you looking forward to it? Thomas, do you want to kick off, please?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Good. It's a nice week when you come in and try and do something different. It's obviously a different feeling being here with being an onlooker, but I'm looking forward to it. I think there's 20 very talented and very good players here and it's interesting to watch and try and get them into shape of thinking the right way about team events. And there's a lot of talent in these two teams that are going to be the future of our tour and it's interesting to be a part of passing on some of your knowledge and some of your experience from great team events.
So I'm looking forward to it in the way that it's nice to sit on that side of the fence and try and lead some very talented people.
GORDON SIMPSON: And Paul, from your perspective, just some opening comments.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I'm very proud, I feel the same way, I'm very honoured to be the captain and I'm looking forward to putting the ideas that I have regarding teams into play and working as Thomas says, with a very talented bunch of guys. My team is a younger team than The European Team, so that's exciting in it's own way.
So I'm really looking forward, I am really looking forward to the week. The golf course is a great venue, and I hope the crowds are good and everything is honoured well. And hopefully Seve gets a chance to come here before the week's over, too. I think that will really put the icing on the cake if he did manage to make it.
GORDON SIMPSON: I believe Seve sent a message of good luck to both of you; is that correct?
PAUL McGINLEY: He did, yeah. He sent both of us a private letter which we read out last night to both teams. Yeah, it was a very emotional letter. It was a very deep letter. I think everyone in the room really appreciated the sentiments of what he had to say.

Q. Did you find it at all difficult to read it?
PAUL McGINLEY: I read it out loud. It was addressed to both me and Thomas and we decided that, yeah, I would read it. We were going to read half and half, but Thomas said no, for me to keep reading it.
I had read it before I read it out and that made it easier to be honest. When I did read it first, it was, as I say, it's quite an emotional letter and there was a lot of thought that went into the letter. A lot of points he made not just about golf but about life and the position that we hold in life and how lucky we are to be who we are and what we are doing and to enjoy it because time flies very quickly.
So they were the kind of sentiments that came along and it was very well worded, very well written and you know, it was a very strong letter.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thomas, you played under Seve obviously in your first Ryder Cup, so you probably have some good memories and recollections of that.
THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, I mean, I don't think we can say enough about him as what he's done for all of us as players and for the Tour. You know, if there is a father figure of this tour and certainly from a player's perspective it, lands on his shoulders.
He is the greatest, certainly greatest character, and certainly one of the great players we have ever had on this side of the Atlantic. He means a lot to the players and certainly Paul's and my generation he means a lot to.
And I think it's important for us this week to pass that onto the younger generation that might not have seen him at his absolute best, but when you've been fortunate to see that, you realise that there's been a talent there that was just very special; but also, everything he did to make the Tour grow, and when it comes to team events, there's not a person that epitomises team events more than Seve Ballesteros. He is the one and all for European golf when it comes to that, and that's obviously why he created this event, to try to give the players more feeling of this.
I think that's why this event should keep growing and become bigger and bigger, because it's very important to this tour, the camaraderie of this tour is very strong, and you know, I think it grows from this event, even though we are on two different sides. We always keep in our mine the bigger picture which is what's going to happen in a year's time. A lot of the guys that are here this week will be on that team, and they have to learn from guys like Paul and me that's been playing in Ryder Cups, but they certainly have to learn from the greatest players that's played in these events, and Seve is one of them.

Q. As you prepare your teams, do you have the spirit of Seve, and the way that he approached team golf as part of your mental preparation?
PAUL McGINLEY: I've been fortunate, I've played under Seve as well, too, in The Royal Trophy, and inspiration was the word. Certainly every captain you play under you certain different things from, and I certainly learned a lot from Seve. If you can bring his spirit into the team room, I think that's all I want to add to the week. Yeah, very much so.
He's a special person and has done a huge amount for The European Tour as everybody knows. He wants to leave a legacy, and the Seve Trophy is something that he really believes in, and believes in the future of, as well, too, and he wants to support that as best he can and build a foundation of something that will grow and grow in future years.

Q. Rory said you basically not talked him into playing but had a conversation with him that persuaded him to play back at Wentworth, I think it was. I wondered what you said and whether you've had conversations with some other people, because obviously the GB&I team is missing more players than the Continental Team, and does that make any difference to Ryder Cup and all of those sorts of things.
PAUL McGINLEY: I didn't talk to the other guys, no, and I didn't really feel like I talked to Rory, either. (Laughing) Maybe I talked to the guys and I didn't know I did.
I basically just asked him whether I was playing or not and I would love to have him if he were available. After that I didn't push. I took my view it's not my job to coax the guys into playing. I think it should be an honour to play and I left it at that. I didn't get involved.
It's guys own personal decisions and if they have reasons not to play, I accept that and I deal with whatever players turn up. I have not gotten involved with coaxing guys to play and I don't think I did with Rory, either. But I did ask him whether he was going to be available.

Q. So is it one that you don't see it as honour to play?
PAUL McGINLEY: I see it my way. I've always been a great team player, and whenever I've got picked for a team, I play. I'm not a good guy to ask. I see it one way and that's what I believe in. Other guys see it another way. I might not agree with it, but I respect that they have a different opinion.

Q. Did any come up and try to explain themselves to you?
PAUL McGINLEY: Lee. Lee is the only one who rang me, explained why he wasn't going to play and as I say, I didn't agree with him and I don't agree with him, but I respect that he's his own man and he can make his own decisions.

Q. Are you especially pleased to see Rory here?
PAUL McGINLEY: I think it's great for Rory as an individual, great for him for his career. He's probably most certainly the brave man to bet him not place until the Ryder Cup next year, what better way to start off your career. He's going to be a talisman on the European Tour in future years, and what a great way to start is to get something like this under his built this week. I hope to pass along as much advice as I can and prepare him for working hard and performing for Europe in future years like he will be.

Q. Is that a Ryder Cup partnership in the making him and Graeme?
PAUL McGINLEY: To me it was obvious, they play practise rounds every week. They are really good friends and they were very keen to play with each other. So, yeah, we start off with them and see where they golf.
You know some pairings look great on paper and then you know, it's about how it blends on the course and how they get on. We'll see how the whole week evolves. I have a lot of ideas in my mind. Rory is an easy guy, and so is Graeme to match up with anybody. I don't really have a problem matching those two up.

Q. Problem with Simon Dyson?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, Simon Dyson had to pull out of the Pro_Am this morning. He has food poisoning. The doctor is seeing him, he's been in bed all day. And I just spoke with him, he's still hoping to be able to play tomorrow. He's feeling a lot better than he did when he woke up this morning.

Q. What happens if he doesn't play?
PAUL McGINLEY: I don't know. I was about to check that with David Probyn before we went through everything last night at the meeting that went on forever, but the one thing we forgot to ask, Thomas doesn't know the answer, if somebody pulls out of the fourball, what happens? We were about to get to the bottom of that. We were about to speak to David Probyn about that.
GORDON SIMPSON: I believe it's a single.
PAUL McGINLEY: Can we swap and put Rory out? (Laughter).
No, we'll see. I'll be very surprised if he's not okay. Today was a big precaution and hopefully he doesn't get any worse; he'll be fine.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thomas, you have some high_powered combinations in that lineup, as well.
THOMAS BJÖRN: I was just about to say, I'll swap and put Henrik out against Rory.
Yeah, I've got a lot of experience in this team. A lot of them's played in team events before, and I've got a couple of __ I've certainly got one young fiery one up there at the top, but you know, they are all mingling nicely together and it wasn't difficult to putt these together.
Once I saw the team, they kind of appeared in my head straightaway. As Paul says, you go with what you think straight up, and then you put together your Plans B, C and D, if things don't work out.
But this is the Plan A and we'll go with that and then we'll see what happens. But I'll feel strongly about this team. I feel like we have some great experience there and guys that's played really, really well the last few weeks.
So it's a good team, but they have to perform together and they have got to be behind each other and you know, it's a team event, one individual performing well doesn't __ will not do the job. So you've got to have performance from all angles and the tendency from these events, what people from the outside tend to think, your lesser players will perform very great under these circumstances. A lot of times you might have to give your top players a little bit more kick to get them to playing their greatest golf.
This team is very strong on paper but they need to perform over the four days.

Q. You alluded to the bigger picture of The Ryder Cup in a years' time, in some respects is it a benefit. I'm asking you this because you're not the captain of the GB&I team, but the big names are not there, that actually know what it's like to play in a Ryder Cup and those players are now getting an opportunity to taste it?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, it has two sides to it. Every Ryder Cup Team we have there's going to be somebody which we think is a surprise, and they could very easily come out of these two teams to that Ryder Cup Team. But there are members of those two teams well that are going to be pretty much certainties on The Ryder Cup Team, and they would benefit a lot from mixing with the guys they are going to be teammates with. There's two sides to that story.
But when I look at those two teams here, I think that there's not one person in there you would think that couldn't make The Ryder Cup Team. So they will all get that feeling this week, being part of a team, and it will prepare them better. We know the guys that are missing. We know what they are capable of, and Monty will certainly know what they are capable of and he will want them in his Ryder Cup Team.
But they have chosen not to be here and that gives other people a chance and it just gives a little bit more depth and strength to The tour come a year's time.

Q. Monty is obviously here this week, does he have a role as far as you guys are concerned or watching brief?
PAUL McGINLEY: Watching brief as far as I know. I haven't discussed anything with him, and I haven't asked him any questions and he'll be looking on as far as I know. Maybe it's different with the European Team I don't know.
THOMAS BJÖRN: I spoke to Monty about it yesterday and he's just here to watch and get a feeling, and he might sit in on a few things just to hear what goes on.
But I think he's more here to get to know some of these guys that he might not know as well and just see how they perform in this kind of event. I think it's a great way to do it, and I think it's a credit to Monty to be here all week and putting his time to that. It shows very much how seriously he takes his captaincy for that Ryder Cup Team and we know what Monty is like; nobody will prepare more and prepare better for a Ryder Cup Team. It's certainly a credit to him to be here all week.

Q. You spoke about Lee Westwood, you talk to him and he gave you his reasons, even if you didn't agree with them; I wondered what those reasons were, and Thomas, whether Sergio had rung you and given you his reasons?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, that was a private conversation with me and Lee. If Lee wants to talk about it, fine, but it's best if I don't say why. I don't really want to get involved in that. If Lee wants to talk about it, I have no problem with it, but I don't think it's my position to say what were his personal reasons.
Just to finish on that note, as well, you asked me did I talk to them; I haven't. As I say, I didn't think it was my role to go and badger guys to play. But I know Monty did. Monty, being The Ryder Cup Captain, and leaving no stone unturned has tried to get as strong a field here as possible. He might be able to enlighten you more. I have purposely not gotten to involved.
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, I spoke to Sergio and he explained to me that he unfortunately had other commitments. He would loved to have played but he had other commitments. Those other commitments I'm not going to get in on. That's for Sergio to explain. But he had other commitments and when he explained it at length, you know, it was one of those situations where you just have to say, well, that's the way it is. But he would have loved to have been here and he's dearly missed.
But you know, I was pretty lucky with my team. Unfortunately I lost Martin Kaymer to injury, but he had committed himself to play. So I had a big commitment from our side. You know, the top guys in the World Rankings committed very early, Henrik and Robert, Alvaro committing already at the PGA Championship. They committed themselves early, and I lost Martin to injury and Sergio had other commitments. But in his voice, it sounded like he would have liked to have been there.

Q. Do you have a theory as to why not many did not commit on your side?
THOMAS BJÖRN: I think they are scared of saying no to me. (Laughing).
I don't know. I think when I run down them, you know, certainly when you start looking at guys like Henrik and Robert, which is right at the top of the tree, name_wise, they have had a big commitment in the past to these team events. And I think they feel a little bit like Paul does himself; you know, when they get asked to play for a team, they don't say no, and it might be the way they grow up in Sweden. Their national teams are always very strong. They have a strong belief in those things.
So they tend not to say no. The three Danish guys I didn't have too much trouble convincing come here, because they might be deported from their home country. (Laughter) and again with the Spanish guys, they have a commitment to it and they feel a big commitment, obviously, to Seve.
So it wasn't that difficult for me to get this team together. And all of my guys spend most of their time in Europe while unlike some of Paul's guys, they spend a lot of time in America.

Q. How easy is it to stir the passions of supporters in a Continental Europe for your team? It's easy for European fans to get behind The European Team in The Ryder Cup, but the splitting up of Europe; do you sense that Danes will be right behind your team in that sense?
THOMAS BJÖRN: I don't know how cheeky I should be with that one. When you're a Continental European, there's nothing better than beating Brits (laughter) and Irish.
It's a team event, and any time you get into a team event, you represent something more than yourself. You represent your team and you represent your flag, and when you represent your flag, something comes up inside of you, and I think that's what gets these guys going. And whoever they play, when they are playing for more than themselves, they will find everything they need to perform and they will get up for it.
And playing Great Britain or playing America or playing in between the countries, it doesn't really matter to these guys. They will get up for it when they play for more than themselves.

Q. Do you properly hate the Brits this week then?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Not at all. Not at all. (Laughter).
I've got very, very great friends down that side of it, and probably one of my better friends on Tour sitting right next to me. So we never get to that because we got the bigger picture in mind, as well.
As I said before, the bigger picture is the Ryder Cup in a years' time, and there we stand together. So it loses a bit of the animosity in this event because of that, but I think that's a good thing that holds the game in respect. We respect each other. I like winning, but when I've got to beat people, I would much rather beat my friends than somebody that I don't know.

Q. Would either of you ever dream of giving advice to a player on his swing while he's in the middle of a round?
PAUL McGINLEY: No, not even on my own swing, never mind anybody else. I'm not that good. I wish I was that good that I could do that, but no.
THOMAS BJÖRN: No. Unlike the spirit of the good old Seve at times. No. (Laughter).

Q. I wasn't thinking of Seve.
GORDON SIMPSON: Good luck when battle commences. Thomas, Paul, thank you very much and look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

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