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September 26, 2009

Thomas Bjorn


GORDON SIMPSON: Thomas, thanks for joining us, and I guess that was a pretty tough day in the office today.
THOMAS BJÖRN: There wasn't much to cheer on today. No, disappointed. They are very disappointed, all of them. There's certain of them that feel like they haven't contributed with what they could expect, and, you know, I have to say I feel probably a little bit the same.
You know, it goes that way once in awhile. You know, we are disappointed. We felt we had everything going well leading into this. Everybody has been on good form. Everybody has been feeling great coming into it, and everybody has been feeling great this week. We have had a good time together, even though it doesn't show on the way we performed, but we have.
You know, I enjoyed it, certainly my time off the golf course with them. Obviously not so much fun sitting on a buggy watching them not performing, but I feel with them, because they put an awful lot of effort into it.
When it comes down to it, this game comes down to a few things, and certainly these matches do. It comes down to momentum. I told them 75 per cent of the matches, we lost the first hole, and already from there, you start seeing red numbers, it becomes difficult.
And the other thing was that putting is crucial in these things, and we certainly didn't putt as well as they did. But to be fair to Paul's team, we probably got outplayed in every part of it.

Q. Is there a lot of hurt pride?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, there is, and that's the only thing I said to them. I said, you've got one chance now left to restore your pride, and that's to try and go and win your singles matches. That's what you're playing for tomorrow. Miracles do happen, but this is a massive ask to turn anything around from here. So just go and play for your pride, give it everything you've got.
They are individual athletes and a lot of them will thrive on that, but they have got a the love things to play for tomorrow, and obviously if it starts going early on, then it becomes difficult to keep the motivation. But they should go out there and show that they are better than that.

Q. What's been your style with them, given that each session you've lost? Has it been sergeant-majorish, or have you tried the soft approach?
THOMAS BJÖRN: A bit of both, really to be honest. There's certain people that you feel like you've got to deal with a bit differently. I've been telling them straight off the bat as I do, what I think, and at times I've tried to inspire them to go and be a bit tougher, be a bit harder.
But you know, every time it seems like they come up against opposition that comes straight out of the box, and they never really settled in these matches to be honest. That's one of the things that I can't point my finger at it, but there's certainly a difference somewhere that the GB&I team seems to get off to great starts and we haven't and we are fighting these uphill battles.
I've tried both approaches. I've tried to look after them individually. I've got guys with a lot of experience in the team and guys that are quite a bit older than me, and I'm not going to stand there and shout at them and tell them what to do. They know what to do. Sometimes you have to say that the other side played better.

Q. The drop this morning, that must have been disappointing.
THOMAS BJÖRN: It was. You question some of the things sometimes and you can sit here and make the world of it, but if somebody hits it that far over the green into a bush, they shouldn't drop it 15 feet from the hole, you know, that has nothing to do with golf.
But, that's the way it's been marked from the beginning of the week and all fairness of this game, it could have been one of our guys that does exactly the same. That's just the way that the rules work out to your advantage. It was a shame, where we felt if we could get a half a point out of that match, at least we would have felt a little bit better.
Anders and Francesco felt very poor walking off the round this afternoon. That's a terrible thing for my player to happen, and it was such a short turnaround and to have to go out and try again. It fed out to the rest of the team. And when you are down, you know, you look for things that are going against and you start talking about them instead of the things that you can see can go the right way.
You know, it just fed through the team a little bit, and it wasn't a very nice thing to happen. You know, sometimes you question -- you can question the way people do the things, but you know, that's the way they done it from the beginning of the week, and we kind of knew that.

Q. But no question that anybody acted improperly.
THOMAS BJÖRN: No. Nobody acted improperly from a player's perspective.

Q. Do you question anything that you've done in terms of preparing the team or anything?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, you've got to question yourself when you come up against it like this. The biggest danger you always have is when you get in trouble and you freefall leading into something like this, you're a favourite on paper, you start believing that you're a favourite on paper.
I knew that when you get eight Englishmen together, they are going to be very tough and they are going to have a very good spirit going. They have a great understanding of each other. And one of the things I said to the guys in there now was that if you're going to play in Ryder Cup teams, you've got to start understanding each other's personalities. You've got to start understanding that you're all from different parts of Europe and you've got to start gelling together.
It's very easy and it seemed like you have three Spaniards and Swedes and Danes, that, well, we stick to what we know. But if they are going to be in a Ryder Cup Team and a winning Ryder Cup Team, they have to do it together all 12 of them.
So they will take that away from this week. There's nobody on my team that can't be in the next Ryder Cup Team. They are all very good players, and I think I had eight guys, you know, right up there in the World Ranking. So there's nobody that can't be there. And they have got to take that away from here. I said to them from the beginning, be behind each other, all the way through the team, and you know, when things go against you, it's easy to fall back to what you know.
I made that absolutely clear to them what I wanted them to stand right behind each other through all the nationalities and through the whole team, but that's the way it is. We have had a great time together, and I have to say that. I wouldn't have done many things different.

Q. In your Ryder Cup experience as a player, did you find that Continental players have more trouble gelling their nationalities than GB&I players?
THOMAS BJÖRN: I think in the two Ryder Cups I played in, I for one have certainly always felt like I had a great understanding of the way you lot think. (Laughter).
And I think that from my perspective, it's been very easy to gel with certainly British players. I've had great friends in my Ryder Cup teams from both Great Britain and Ireland.
So I probably have been lucky in that way when I've gone into those teams, that I can understand it. But there's certainly some of them that I can see don't really have that same sense of humour, and they are probably a little bit easier approach on everything. They are very tense and serious about their golf and that's what makes them so successful in their own way.
But when it comes to this, the easier approach might at times take the pressure off a little bit.

Q. Given that it's been The European Tour since '72, surely the days when it was GB&I-centred are long gone. You look at the winners that the other countries have produced on Tour --
THOMAS BJÖRN: You don't really want me to answer that, do you? (Smiling).

Q. Those days that you're referring to, were there more practise rounds or dinners before with people of other nationalities?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, I would, actually. I think when you come right into a close match, they should spend some time together before they go to The Ryder Cup.
Going to The Ryder Cup not knowing somebody is very difficult, because you don't know how you're going to act. I was very lucky in '97. There was a lot of guys on that team I didn't feel close -- they were idols of mine more than anything. But I didn't know them at all. But I had Darren and Lee on that team, so it was very easy for me to slide in behind them and kind of get the feeling of everything going.
But you know, if you don't know somebody very well going in, you always have a little bit of -- you spend a few days trying to figure out, and that might actually lose you a good pairing. Because by the end of the week, two people who don't know each other will find each other, and that could have been a great pairing from the beginning of the week.

Q. If you're in this competition as a Swede or a Dane or a Spanish, and things starting to wrong, it's almost natural to talk to the people you talk to in your own language and you share a culture with; so it's almost natural that you tend to group off with people from our own country.
THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, that is the natural thing of it, but you know, that's where a team like the GB&I Team has an advantage. When you've got eight English guys, you know, everybody is there speaking the same language, understanding each other. It's easier to pick up.
And certainly from a captain's point of view, you've got -- I mean, I have got guys this week that want to eat at 6.00 at night and somebody that wants to eat at 9.30 at night. How do you get team meals together? You have to mix that throughout the week. And the problem is, you've got Miguel that loves to go out late and eat and you've got some of the younger Swedish guys that want to eat early. How do you get them together? And if I eat at 8.30, 9.00, I upset the Swedish guys; and if I eat at 9.30, I upset the Spanish guys. It's a difficult balance throughout the week. And those are little things that goes into it. But Miguel can't play golf the next day if he eats at 6.00 in the evening. (Laughter) But that's the way it is.
There is more that goes into it, because we have got different cultures. But they have got to learn to deal with these things, because being a part of something bigger, you know, then they have to learn and deal with these things and just do what they are told.

Q. Has any of this put you off captaincy?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Not at all. I enjoyed every bit of it. I haven't enjoyed the golf -- well, I have. I've got to give a lot of credit to the players on the other side. Some of them have performed extremely well. And I've enjoyed watching that, and with a year down the line in mind, as well. There's a lot of potential and there's a lot of potential on both sides. Someone daft said, well, maybe next year's Ryder Cup Team should be the GB&I Team. (Laughter) I said, "Well, I would not like to see a Ryder Cup Team without Sergio and Henrik in it." There's a lot of talent on our side as well. They just didn't get it done this week.
But there's been some great, great performances this week. Rory stands out, sensational the way he's played this week. He's just been brilliant. He's obviously leaning up Graeme a bit but he's been sensational this week. And a couple of the other guys have been very good. Chris Wood has been very good. There is some very good talent for the future, not just for The Ryder Cup, but for The European Tour and European golf.
They stand out and that's good for all of us. But you know, this week, it wasn't so good for us.

Q. Who put that to you, that you should go back to Great Britain and Ireland?
THOMAS BJÖRN: (Smiling in silence). (Laughter).

Q. Just gentle ribbing.
THOMAS BJÖRN: You think it's a good idea?
GORDON SIMPSON: Did you say on TV you heard that?
THOMAS BJÖRN: On TV a guy said that to me.
GORDON SIMPSON: I think that's maybe the moment to call it quits, Thomas. Thank you.

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