EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM Bjørn interview transcript

Mon 23 Oct 2017

EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM Bjørn interview transcript

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Thomas Bjørn interview transcript


Q. What does it mean to you to be selected as captain for Team Europe?


Anytime you get this bestowed on you, you have to be grateful that players want you as captain and there’s a Tour that believes that you can be captain. It is a moment of reflection on your own career. You got to realise that your golf might not be as good anymore. On the other hand it is also a sign that you have put in a lot of time in your career and in the Tour. I’m honoured and pleased to be in this situation where I can do this and it is something that I’m really looking forward to. I feel that I can get across to the senior and to the new players. I have a lot of good relationship that I feel that I can do a good captaincy that the players want.

Q. You had the chance to see the Glenmarie course, tell us a bit about it?

I was fortunate to play in this event in 2014. It is a great golf course. It is not the longest golf course in the world but it is quite tricky. It will create a nice atmosphere because you can get on a birdie run on this course. That should be fun in match play.

 

Q. How did your meeting go with the Malaysian Prime Minister?

He knows more about golf than I do so that’s a good sign! It was a fantastic honour to meet a man in that position. I think that’s also a sign of where golf takes you. It takes you to places where you never thought you would go. When you are 22, you are all about playing golf but once your career progresses, you realise that the game of golf reaches so many other things. Sometimes this sport reaches the higher level of life. It is a great platform to showcase some countries and what Malaysia is all about. It was a fantastic honour to be in that office. When you sit in a chair in an office like that, you realise how little a piece you are in a big world. It is humbling.

 

Q. How important is it for you to look at your players early in the season given that it is the Ryder Cup year as well?

There are a lot of players where I’ve seen them in that environment before. There are also the new players where it is their first test in many years for team golf. Most of them come from the amateur ranks where they’ve played team golf and represented their country. It gives me a good indication of where some of them are. There are some players who are going to be in the European team like (Tommy) Fleetwood and (Tyrrell) Hatton who I know them quite well as individual golfers but to see them in a team environment is equally important. I can’t just put my Ryder Cup cap on. I need to put my EurAsia Cup cap on and we come in and focus during the week. We need to have a team who will face a strong Asian team. If I take my focus off during the week then I don’t think we will have as a good a chance of winning.

 

Q. You’ve played in several Ryder Cup teams and served as captain in the Seve trophy. What do you think will be your main parameters in your strategy?

For me it is very much depending on the team that lines up. My job is to put a strategy in place with the players I have. I only know a few of them so far and I’m having conversations with them. In my head at the moment, I’m making out a plan. I’m very deep into stats, very deep into looking at where they are form wise and from there I will make a plan and have good conversations with them. For a lot of European golfers, it is difficult because the EurAsia Cup will be their first tournament of the year. They will come out from their winter training and it is for me to keep them in check and come out to perform to their highest level.

 

Q. Have you considered naming a vice Captain yet?

I haven’t named any vice captains. I will have one vice-captain and he will be a playing vice-captain. I will announce together with the team.

 

Q. What do the European players take away from the EurAsia Cup?

Every time we play for Europe, we play for something more than ourselves. I’ve met individual people in my career and they all tend to want to become football players or some sort of team sport. Then I meant these football players and they all want to play golf. There’s a dream of what’s on the other side. What we take away from it is the chance to play for ourselves, our country and our continent. That’s something that doesn’t happen very often. Europe is a fragmented place in a lot of ways but in the EurAsia Cup and Ryder Cup, we get to play for Europe. You don’t see that in many sports. As much as it is great fun, it is also a burden which the players carry. It tends to bring out the best in us and show that we Europeans can be close in what we do. I’ve seen that so many times in the Ryder Cups. We get asked a lot why we are so successful in the Ryder Cup even though we come from so many countries whereas the Americans they have a flag to play for. But I think that when it really comes down to it we are great at what we do. It creates an atmosphere in the team room where I’ve never seen before anywhere else. Players come in trying to make the team room the greatest place you can be in.

 

Q. Will you use the EurAsia Cup to show your intentions in the Ryder Cup just like what the Americans did in the Presidents Cup?

Well that will depend on the results… There’s a saying in golf that the Americans are really strong and I agree. They are extremely strong and they’ve certainly found something that they can use in their team golf. But if you look at the world rankings as of Monday, we have 10 Europeans in the top-20. European golf has never been in a better place on the world rankings. It is very easy to draw your attention to Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth because they’ve been extremely dominant in the second half of the season. I could have never dream of the position that the Europeans are in at the moment six months ago. I think we are really in a strong position. I have to look at things with a different eye. Those players will come into the EurAsia Cup and feel what a team room feels like and playing as a team and playing for each other. A lot of players want to be part of team event and that’s why I feel that the EurAsia Cup has a great future.

 

Q. What changed for Team Europe after the 10-10 draw in 2014 and they produced a commanding win in 2016?

Momentum is the one thing in golf that changes. When I look at 2014, we got off to a great start but we lost the momentum on Sunday and there was a growing belief in the Asian team that they could win. In the end we went from thinking we were going to win to hoping to get a draw. We see that in team events all the time. In 2016 Darren (Clarke) really kept that momentum going. He had strong characters in his team and that’s important to lead the way. You got to have players to stand up when something is going wrong. I remember my first experience in the Ryder Cup was in 1997 and we were leading 10 ½  to 5 ½  going into the Singles. There was an atmosphere in the team room that we were going to win this. All of a sudden the mood got a bit too loud and Olazabal just stood up and shouted at everybody to keep the atmosphere down and realise that there is a job to do. In 2014, we were guilty of thinking that we were going to win it and lost that momentum. I can’t use anything from 2014 or 2016 when I come here. It will be about the next three days when I come with my team in January.