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October 14, 2009

Thomas Bjorn


THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, I've had a thinking about this for a while. I haven't officially resigned yet, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while. I think to some extent, it not for an active player to do. It's too much to deal with. So I've had conversations with people within the Tour about this for a while, and I'm seeing George and David tomorrow, and you know, from that, we'll get to some sort of future way of dealing with the committee. We think it's certainly a feeling at the moment, it's too much for an active player to do.
We need to find a different structure of it, and that's what we are working on and been thinking about for a long time. But officially, I haven't resigned yet, but it's certainly something that's on my mind, because I don't think, to be fair to myself and my golf, you know, I've got too much to do on that side. And it takes my concentration away from what I want to do on the golf course, and that's not being fair to me.

Q. Will you be chairing the committee tomorrow night?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Yes, I will definitely chair it tomorrow night, and you know, I don't want to go -- I feel like I've done a good job. I feel like I've had great support from the tour and from the players in what I've done. But you know, it took it's toll on my game, it's took its toll on Jamie and it's taking it's toll on me. We have got to learn from those things and we have to learn from that maybe we are asking too much of an active player to do this.

Q. It's nothing at all to do with Padraig's comments?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I spoke to Padraig this morning. Padraig and I have been friends for 14 years. We have a great relationship. Padraig was at my wedding. I was very much invited to his wedding and we have had great times over the years and we are still friends and always will be friends. It's absolutely nothing to do with that.
To be honest, those are probably the issues that are the easiest things to deal with, the bigger issues of the Tour; it's the smaller things that gets to you in the long run.

Q. Should it be an ex-player, someone like that, not participating?
THOMAS BJÖRN: It's difficult for me to say. We have got a couple of ideas on what we think we can do, and we certainly just want to think about how to structure it so it works in favour of the players, but also that it works, you know, for the players can concentrate on their golf, because when it comes down to it, that's what we are here to do is to play.

Q. They let you know that you'll continue as chairman --
THOMAS BJÖRN: I have not made -- I'm 90 per cent there in my decision, and that's where I am with it. But it will take some convincing for me to continue to do that, because I wouldn't be fair to myself and my golf.

Q. The meeting tomorrow might, will they make a firm decision tomorrow night or is it still just discussion stage?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, it's discussion stage. You can put two and two together. We have to make a decision for the next year; we have to make a decision soon. We are at a stage where we have got to make decisions. But if we can't come to an agreement that works, then we might have to postpone it a year and we might agree that what we have got is what we need to have.
So we are in absolutely no stage at the moment to say what the outcome of the meeting is tomorrow, but there's proposals on the table and we called this meeting tomorrow because we feel it's very important things for the future of the Tour to deal with and to have it in a discussion amongst 50 other things at St. Andrews was not right.
It was much easier to say to the guys, keep your focus on this, and then we'll have a sitdown, because that's what we will talk about, because then people will have had a couple of weeks to think about it and we'll come to a decision that we feel works for the players and for the Tour. This is a big decision and it will impact the way the Tour will go forward. So we don't take that one lightly.

Q. Has Padraig been invited tomorrow to prove his point?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Padraig has been invited to be at the meeting tomorrow. We feel that we look after the Tour as a whole. You know, every member of this tour is an equal, and you know, I certainly carried that flag very much in this chairmanship that everyone here is equal.
But we also know that these decisions have a bigger impact on our top players and the way they schedule themselves. And him being one of our most important players, we feel that his input is important to everybody on that committee to hear. But we also will make the decision on what we think is right for the Tour.

Q. What will the protocol be tomorrow in his appearance?
THOMAS BJÖRN: He'll be there and he'll put his point across. He said to me this morning, he said, as he always will done, any decision that's made, he will accept. It's a democracy out here as well as anywhere else and, and you live that the rules that are set for you. And Padraig I'm sure will live with those rules, whatever rules comes out of it tomorrow. He's put his point across and we will listen to him as we listen to other players that are in the same boat.
I had a conversation with Luke last week; Ernie and Retief are players that always gets heard out by George. We have got a lot of players that we always listen to their points of view. But when it comes down to it, we also have to look at the future for the Tour. This is not a decision that's made for what's next year's about. This is a decision that l should change the way the players and this tour looks at the Tour and view the Tour. And I keep saying in three to five years' time, if we change this dramatically, in three to five years' time, people just think, well, that's the rules we play under and they will play with them.
It's always difficult for the generation where they have to change it around, but we have got to look at the future for the Tour.

Q. Given the urgency of the situation, will you stay in situ as chairman until such time as an arrangement can be worked out so a successor can be appointed in such a way that will satisfy you and the committee?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Yeah, I'll say. This is our last meeting tomorrow and then the next meeting is in Abu Dhabi, and hopefully we can, this, will obviously come up tomorrow, as well, because it's a decision that we need to make.
But hopefully by the end of tomorrow night, we will know and we can have put a structure in place. I have ideas and George has ideas and a few of the other players on the committee have ideas and we are not very far apart. We just have to make sure that we have the right sort of structure for the future, and you know, if we can get that structure in place, I would stay on committee I think.
But if it continues the way it is now, then I don't feel like I can stay on the committee and going from chairman and just back to being a normal committee member. If we change the structure of it, then I feel like that would be one of the things that I have been part of doing and I feel like I can add to the committee and stay on the committee.

Q. But you won't chair a meeting?
THOMAS BJÖRN: My view on it is if it's an active player chairing the committee, then I probably won't be found on the committee.

Q. Was there a moment where you just thought, I've just had enough of this, or was there one key point in the last week, two weeks, three weeks or just an accumulation?
THOMAS BJÖRN: It's a build up of things. As I said before, the big issue is I enjoy appointing Ryder Cup Captains, making the decisions that we are making tomorrow night; that I can see is something that's part of developing the Tour and benefitting the Tour.
I have no issues with that. I'll spend as much time with that at home and thinking about it and sit down and write things down and go through with with my head. I don't have any issues with that. But it's the little things out here on Tour that you have to deal with week-in and week-out that takes so much away from my focus on playing golf.
Not putting it on you, but you doing your job, coming to me and asking the questions; but at times it feels like I come off the golf course and I have to deal with committee stuff while I'm actually in the middle of a tournament trying to concentrate, and it takes half an hour, 45 minutes out of my time and it takes a lot out of air out of me as well to go practise and concentrate on my golf and that I find very, very difficult.

Q. And your health hasn't been great.
THOMAS BJÖRN: No, my health hasn't been great. There's issues that I need to deal with. I really enjoy it, and I have to say, in working with the players and working with the tour, it has been something I have enjoyed. But you know, there's got to come a time where I've got to look after myself.

Q. Could you just clarify the management structure because no one was quite sure in there previously, with whom the buck stops. So does the tournament players' committee have the final say on decisions or does George?
THOMAS BJÖRN: I mean, the board of directors is our -- in the end, the place where the final decisions for the Tour is made. You know, they would very rarely come in the way of the tournament committee. The way the board is structured is that seven of the members of the board is appointed by the tournament committee, so we have a majority on the board.
So they literally have to vote in favour of what we think, but, you know, on this tour, we work together and we always have worked together and you know, George has done a very good job as Chief Executive, and as a player out here, you would always have to listen to what he has to say and very often have to go with his views and his decisions on things, because he knows all the background and the players don't. So you've got to have a great Chief Executive in place. But I certainly feel in the time I've been on the committee, we've had that, and he does a great job and we listen to him in detail about what he says, and most of the time we'll follow his decisions, certainly on the bigger issues and the business side of things. He takes a bit of a back seat when it comes to tournament stuff and player issues, and we kind of roll them through as we see fit. But on the bigger issues, we have to trust that we have good executive staff to deal with those things.

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