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February 23, 2011

Thomas Bjorn


PAUL SYMES: Thomas, yesterday you said Tiger was still the man to beat and you're sitting here now having beaten him. You must feel pretty proud of yourself.
THOMAS BJORN: I think when you look at a field and certainly a match play field, that's one person you don't want to play, because you don't know what's coming at you. The golf today wasn't pretty at all from either one of us. Certainly early on we kept giving each other holes, and that's not really the way to do it. But it became more a match of -- you know, more battle for both of us. But it became a tough match in the end because you just didn't know what was going to happen. Didn't know who was going to hit a bad shot next.
It was one of those days on the golf course where we're not proud of the way we played, but I'm proud of the way I hung in there. There were some turning points in the match. Early on I was in decent control of my game. 2-up after 8, all of a sudden I just gave away 9 and 10, just stupid mistakes, the mistakes you can't really make in match play. And I lost 10, as well. And then lost 11. And then all of a sudden I was 1-down, and I saw that spring in his step and that worried me a little bit.
But 15 was another turning point. I had gotten the match back to all square. He hit a great drive and got unlucky with the bounce and didn't manage to get it up and down while I did. So I believe I could win the match. But it still shows what class he's got, on the last he hit some wonderful shots there. There was really no doubt where that putt was going to go.
Then on the 19th hole, it was just a little push 3-wood he hit, and ending up in a bush and from there it was almost game over. So I'm happy with the way I hung in today. I'm happy with the way I got out in the match. I haven't been around these events for probably the best of three years now, and this is my first time back in them. And it's certainly an introduction back into play him. So it's nice to sit here now. But it's the first round over with, and there's a long way to go in this golf tournament.
PAUL SYMES: You've already beat one former winner today. You'll have to beat another one tomorrow in Geoff Ogilvy, it doesn't get any easier.
THOMAS BJORN: No, it certainly doesn't. Geoff is a great player, and he loves desert golf. That will take some good stuff tomorrow to come out victorious in that. But I'll take a lot from today that I can go out and control my emotions and control -- you're not going to be more nervous than you are when you play Tiger, that's for sure. And certainly when you've been away from the big events for a while. I'll take a lot from that. And now I need a good night's rest, and then I'll start concentrating on that match tomorrow.

Q. What did you say to Tiger there at the end?
THOMAS BJORN: That's between me and Tiger, really. But what I will say is that the game of golf needs him back at his best. And I've always been a great friend of his, and we've always had a good relationship. And I want to see him back at his best because I think it's much more fun to go up against him when he's absolutely at his peak. And so it was things down that line. But what was exactly said, that stays between me and Tiger.

Q. Kind of along those same lines, I saw your caddie mention afterwards that his cellphone was blowing up. Do you anticipate communicating, talking to a lot of people back home or friends tonight after this?
THOMAS BJORN: Not really, you know. In Europe it's a late hour now so they've all gone to bed. But, yeah, I got a lot of friends and they'll share this with me and they follow me through thick and thin. And they are obviously happy for me today. But they also know what I'm like. I'll very quickly turn my eyes towards tomorrow and they'll leave me alone to concentrate on that. But, yeah, just right after, you get all the texts of congratulations. But it's one match down and now we move on.

Q. They'll text you 30 seconds after a match is over?
THOMAS BJORN: Well, they must be watching TV with the phone in hand (laughter).

Q. Obviously Tiger is in the middle of a swing change. Talk about what you saw with him, how much you thought he was playing swing, and whether it seemed second nature and how much he was fighting it?
THOMAS BJORN: Well, there are certain things, he looks like he's not comfortable with. But certainly when he got up in the match, he started swinging the golf club a lot freer, and put some really good swings on it on the back 9. And certainly with the driver, it looked a lot better than it's done for a while.
He's on his way back, and we all know as players, when you go through stuff like that it can be extremely difficult to play. And he's just going to need a bit of time to get those things sorted out and then a lot of people put question marks if this guy is going to win golf tournaments again. I think we all know that he's going to win golf tournaments again. And when he lands on one, there's no stopping him. He'll go back and he'll get his confidence up and then he'll get straight back to where he plays his best. But it can take time. And sometimes it changes in a week, you know, that's all you need sometimes is just one week where it comes together. You feel comfortable and then you can be off again.

Q. You described his tee shot on 19 as a push. He took a long time to hit that. And it looked like a big miss on television. Were you surprised that he hit that that far into the desert?
THOMAS BJORN: Well, I was exactly in the same spot on the first hole. It's a funny hole, the first, because you really want to not -- with the angle into the flag, you don't want to hit it too far down the left. You've got to take it on a little bit down to the right to have an angle at that flag.
So he had a -- I think in his mind he had a great idea of what he wanted to do. And sometimes they don't come off, you know, the way they want it to. That's the way it is. And certainly when you're going through a big change, you hit the odd one just a little bit off line. And it's not -- from what he was trying to do, I don't think that was miles off line. I just think it was just a fraction off to the right, because once you go on the left side of that fairway, you're not going to get any closer to that pin, there's no chance to get close to that flag.

Q. Did the wind push it a bit?
THOMAS BJORN: Yeah, because the wind picked up when he was over the ball. I think any player in this field would be between a driver and 3-wood today. But 3-wood leaves you a long way back. He stepped off it. It was just one of those that just didn't come off.

Q. Did the beginning of the match throw you guys off at all? You think you're going off in ten minutes and three matches come in front of you, it's not a weather delay?
THOMAS BJORN: I think it was the first three matches that all went to extra holes and we were just standing around. And I was down on the tee and then back up on the putting green. And eventually we were back on the range hitting balls again. So it was a bit -- I mean, for my part you want to get going.
When you're playing him and you kind of have been hanging around all morning to get out there, you just want to get going. It was a bit annoying. But that's what you live with, you know.
And the guys come off 18, they need to keep going, you can't keep them waiting. It's just sometimes what you've got to live with. You've got to be able to handle those things.

Q. Just because of the nature of this event and all the World Ranking points, you're within touching distance now of that Top 50 and The Masters. It's been a dream three weeks. Would you imagine it three weeks ago when you got to Qatar that it would come out like this?
THOMAS BJORN: No, not at all. I was 1, 3, 4 going into the Qatar in the world. And for me it's just a massive step in the right direction being here. You know, that's -- I take a great joy in that, you know. That gives me belief that my golf is in the right direction. And even though the golf wasn't great today, it still gives me a lot of good to handle the situation and handle, you know, there's a lot of people out there. You feel like you're playing a Sunday afternoon when you play Tiger in match play. So there's a lot of things that went right and I take a lot of good things if that.
The Masters is not, you know, it is what it is. Any player would want to be there, want to play in it. And I obviously want to, as well. But, you know, I've got to take all the positives of what's going on at the moment. If I keep playing the way I've been doing, and certainly I played fantastic in practice here. If I keep doing the right stuff and keep working away at it, well, then I will be back in The Masters and tournaments like it. And that's any player out here, that's their plan with everything they do.
But, you know, right now I'm just enjoying that I'm back to playing some better stuff than I've done for a couple of years.

Q. It was during those last couple of years, what was the low point and were you -- what were you thinking about, were you thinking about not playing all the time, quitting, doing something else or where were you?
THOMAS BJORN: No, I always think that you can -- you know, you can always -- I always believed that you can work your way out of trouble. And I worked extremely hard. I found things in my golf swing, I started to do things with any golf swing that I want to do other than what other people are telling me to do. And that's a big step in the right direction.
I believe in what I'm doing now, and that gives me confidence. And my coach, when I was a kid, always said to me, give him a golf swing that he believes in, then he's going to go and play well. And that's where I'm back to. I'm starting to believe in my golf swing again and that gives me a good bit of confidence to go out and play.
PAUL SYMES: Well done. Congratulations.

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