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May 22, 2014

Thomas Bjorn


MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Thomas, many thanks for joining us.  What a difference a week makes, eh?  Missed the cut last week; 62 around Wentworth.
THOMAS BJÖRN:  I don't really know where to start with this, because it was‑‑ last week was awful, and I was starting to feel a bit frustrated with things, and to be honest in practise, it hasn't been great, either.  And to go out on this golf course of all places and play like I did today is a little bit surprising.
But we all know, getting through the first four or five holes on this golf course is important, and I did that well today and started feeling comfortable on the golf course and then I just started hitting some really good shots, 10, 11, 12, and from there, it was pretty much, apart from 17, I never really missed many shots.  So just one of those days where you just walk off the golf course and you think, I want to keep playing.
But you know, it was‑‑ I haven't had the best record here.  I haven't had the best round here.  It's been a long time since I've actually had any sort of result on this golf course.  It's not a place when I come in here, I think, oh, this is going to be a great week but I guess I've got to start sticking my head down for the rest of the week now and try and focus on what's ahead.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Does that make it a bit more special?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  Yeah, it does.  On The European Tour, there's no bigger stage than this.  You know, this is our event.  It's the players' event.  We have a lot of heart in this event.  We are very proud of it, and to come out and play great is just special.  You know, you want to, this is an event, apart from major championships and World Golf Championships, everybody on this tour is looking forward to and wants to compete in.
So when you don't, it's hard but to come out and shoot a number like this, it certainly gives you a good start to the week.

Q.  How much did the rain overnight make the greens more receptive, and did that make it a little bit easier for the players?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  Yeah, it certainly made it easier, there's no doubt about that.  Fairways are fairly bouncy still, but this golf course, just keep it out of all Ernie's bunkers and then you've got a chance (with a wry smile).
So I drove the ball well today and kept myself out of trouble on most holes, and then when they soften a little bit, yeah, then there is opportunities out there.  You know, it's a little bit easier than it's been in practise, but it's still a tough golf course to play because it's about hitting fairways and putting yourself in position.

Q.  You must be delighted with the shot into the 18th, finishing a couple of feet away.
THOMAS BJÖRN:  Well, I stood on the tee and to get up in two there, you really have to hit driver.  And, I just thought, you know what, you've got to take that corner on with the driver now; but just play it as a three‑shot hole, and I had a decent number.  I felt the wind was a little bit into me, so it was an easy shot to be a bit aggressive on.  When you are in the zone of doing everything right, that's where the ball ends up; and if you're not, it ends up at 12 feet and you miss it.  That's the way the game is.  But I felt very comfortable over the shots today.

Q.  How far was it, your second shot?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  I had 102 metres.

Q.  Can you recall a turnaround as dramatic as this one you've just experienced, and is there anything that you can compare it to?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  Well, I've got a history of turning things around quick, but more often than not, it's the other way (laughter).  You know, when it goes this way, you've just got to be happy when you walk off the golf course.  It's a funny game.  There's no two ways about it.
I really felt like when I stood on the range yesterday working hard, I felt like I've got to do well to be here for four days.  But golf is just so funny.  You wake up on the right side of the bed and you feel great and you walk out and you play great.  And then the next day, you walk out and it's completely gone.
I think I'll go to the range and hit for a bit and just get myself rested and continue for three more days to try and be competitive.

Q.  Where would you rank this among all the great rounds you've played?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  The best one, absolutely.  On this golf course, you shoot great rounds of golf in your career, but to shoot 62 on this golf course, you can't ask for much more.

Q.  How do you explain the solid form starting the end of last year coming through, any particular reason?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  Hard work.  Determination to not let a golf career fade away.  You get to a stage in your life where you've got to make decisions and you've got to stand there and say, well, do I want to do this, and if you're going to do it, you've got to work hard because everybody else does.
It's been a long period of time I've worked hard.  I've just been determined to get myself in where I can play with the best in the world, and I'll keep continuing to do that as long as my body allows me to.
But I feel great about Tour life.  I feel great about golf.  I enjoy being out here, which I probably didn't do for a couple of years, and I just enjoy it.  I think you get to a stage where you kind of can see the end; so you just want to enjoy the last bit, but it comes with a lot of hard work.  You look at there's guys around the world now in their 40s and even in their 50s playing some really good golf, and if you ask all of them, they work hard and they all enjoy it.  It's very easy when you get past 40 to stop enjoying this after a long career.

Q.  And what would returning to The Ryder Cup this year mean to you?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  We all want to play in it but it's more a sign of you doing things right.  So that would be a great achievement for me.  It's been 12 years since I was in the team.  That would be a great thing.
I've watched a lot from the sidelines and that can hurt a little bit at times, as great as it is to be; but I wanted to play in another Ryder Cup, and I've got to stay focused and determined to keep playing good golf to get there.  But I'm determined to do that.

Q.  You mentioned "Ernie's bunkers."  Prior to today, and post the changes, how would you describe your relationship with the West Course?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  I had one close call in the Match Play.  You've got to go back probably to the 90s before I finished Top‑10 in this event.  So it's not been a great hunting ground for me.
But as a golf course, it's a magnificent golf course.  I lived here for nine years, so I've got no excuses for not knowing it very well, that's for sure.  It's a great golf course.  I just never really felt like I've been comfortable on it.  Today I was comfortable.  But tomorrow is another day.

Q.  Just a quick one; when did you move away from the area?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  I've been away from five years.

Q.  And on The Ryder Cup, you mentioned that you feel you need to obviously keep playing well to make it.  How do you view your position?  You do seem very close, almost guaranteed, or are you still thinking, you need to do a lot more?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  I still think I need to do a lot more.  There's a lot of guys playing great golf at the moment, and over the last few weeks, a few names are quite a bit out are all starting to come back into the frame.  And being great players‑‑ there's just so many guys that's playing good golf.
The team, no matter who is in, is going to be a great team with a lot of great form.  But you've just got to try to stay ahead of the next guy.  That's the issue at the moment.  There's a long way to go and there's very big golf tournaments on the way.  Whoever does well will make the team.
Ryder Cup is not the main focus of my season.  The main focus of my season is to play good golf and compete in the weeks I'm playing, and if I do that, then it will take care of itself.
But stay determined and stay in the now you know, the last two or three years, that's what I've been focused on, never get more than one or two weeks ahead in my thinking, and that's what I'm doing now, as well.  Just stay where I am and then good things will take care of themselves.

Q.  When in the round was it that you thought, gosh, there's something going on here; I'm really enjoying this?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  No, I never really got that way, my thinking.  I was determined on what was right in front of me, the next shot.
When you go birdie, birdie, eagle and you get to 7‑under, you start thinking, well, you could produce a good number.  And knowing this golf course, it can do two things to you.  A lot of people have gone bananas over the last six, seven holes on this golf course, and a lot of people have lost a lot of shots.
So you know with this golf course, you just have to stay focused on what's ahead of you, and I did that today.  I hit good shots, 13, 14, 15, was difficult holes and that was the key to me walking off the golf course feeling like I've done a really, really good day's work today, because I stayed focused and when it was tough, when the golf course turns tough.  It was good.

Q.  Do you think there's anything that you did today specifically where you felt that you were hitting the ball differently?  Was there anything in your mind‑set that was different that you played such good golf?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  No, but when you're off a little bit, you can try to get protective.  Today I just went out there and just hit at the golf ball.  I felt like I just let it flow, take the tempo down a little bit and then be a little bit aggressive through the ball.
So, you know, those are the things.  I know myself very well, and I know the way I can play golf, even when I'm not swinging my best, I know if I can take the tempo down and stay with my rhythm, then I've still got good hands to save a little bit.  And today, it's starting to feel better and better the golf swing as the day went on.
So I'll get on that range and try to see if I can find feelings that can carry me through the week.

Q.  You talked earlier about not enjoying your golf for a couple years.  Can you recall an instance when that was particularly the case and what was the turning point?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  You play golf for a long time; I have travelled with my golf clubs since I was 14 years old, and sometimes you forget why you love the game, and it becomes hard work.
You travel around the world, you're not playing very well, and this tour can be a lonely, hard place when you're not playing very well.  I just had a hard look at myself, really.  Sat down and thought through what I really felt about this game, and how I wanted to approach it.
Then you quickly find out that it's the only thing you really want to do.  But a lot of people will throw things at you and say, you can do this, you can do that; but golf is my life, and I just feel like, how I felt at that time, this is what I've got to do and I knew that was a long road of hard work, and I did that to get myself to where I feel like I can play with the best.

Q.  Wondering how soon after your finish did the siren go to suspend play and how much of a bonus is it to get it in?
THOMAS BJÖRN:  I was signing my scorecard and Stephen Gallacher looked at me and he says, "You're not having a very bad day, are you."  
No, we could kind of feel there was something going on in the weather, so it was nice to get in.  Hopefully they will be playing golf soon again.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Thomas, many thanks.  Well done.

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