Thomas Bjorn had every reason to sing his own praises when he turned up for the $4 million Sky Sports British Masters at Walton Heath, his first return to golf since masterminding Europe’s 17.5-10.5 Ryder Cup victory at Le Golf National. That’s not Bjorn. He’s not one to gloat.
Bjorn stuck to the script he’d penned long before he assembled his 12 men on the outskirts of Paris to take on one of the strongest U.S. teams ever assembled: it wasn’t about him or any other individual, but the 12 players who formed the European team. And, as we’ve found out from nine European victories over the last 12 Ryder Cups, there is no “I” in team.
Take the Dane’s “controversial” decision to select Sergio Garcia as one of his wild-card picks. Bjorn was pilloried from all points – including this one – for picking the out of form Spaniard. If Bjorn had any reason to say “I told you so,” this was his opportunity. Instead, he took a dignified stance.
“I’m not one to sit there and say I told you so, because Sergio could have showed up and not won points,” Bjorn said. “He could have played well and lost matches. That happens in the Ryder Cup.
“To sit there and say, ‘oh, I told you he was going to come and do this,’ nobody can predict that with any player in the Ryder Cup. That’s not what it’s about. What you try and get across to players is that it doesn’t matter what you do on the golf course. When you look in the top left-hand corner of the TV and there’s a result there, that’s what matters, and that’s the only thing that we’re trying to do together. Doesn’t matter who delivers them. But you have to have that environment through the 12 of them, and everybody around them, where they have the opportunity to deliver their best, and for me – and that wouldn’t be for every captain – but for me he was a crucial part of that.”
Garcia was not only crucial in the European team room, he delivered on the golf course, too. The Spaniard won three points out of four to overtake Nick Faldo as Europe’s all-time leading point winner with 25.5.
Bjorn got points out of all his men, further proof his 12 becomes one philosophy worked. As brilliant as Paul McGinley was at Gleneagles in 2014, the Irishman didn’t get a point out of each of his 12.
Rounds of 73 and 78 saw Bjorn miss the cut at Walton Heath. That was to be expected after the energy he expended in France, and nearly two years of being a ceremonial golfer. Bjorn now has to figure out what he’s going to do with the rest of his life.
“These next few months, it’s just about coming back down to earth and trying to find myself and figure out what’s in store for me going forward,” he said.
“I have a great love for this game, and I have a great love for this Tour. I’ll stay around the game in some way, shape or form, but I’ve made no decisions.
“I like playing, but I say anybody that’s played at a high level, you hate playing poorly, and so that’s not something I want to do. I’ve got to look at Seniors Tour. Is that something I want to do, or do I call it a day with my active career and then move somewhere else? Those things will just kind of develop as we go forward. It takes a lot of hard work to compete today, and does the body allow that, does my mind allow that, that’s something that I’ll kind of have to get to grips with over the next few months.”
After his excellent performance as Ryder Cup captain, Bjorn can do whatever he likes. How about King of Europe? Gwk