Thomas Bjorn has scaled his Mt. Everest. So now what?

Ian Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Bjorn has scaled his Mt. Everest. So now what?

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Thomas Bjorn has scaled his Mt. Everest. So now what?

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Thomas Bjorn is going through an experience many mountaineers face after they’ve scaled Mount Everest. What do they climb next after they’ve conquered the world’s highest peak?

Bjorn conquered his Everest on Sunday Sept. 30, 2018 at Le Golf National just outside Paris.

The 48-year-old Dane delivered the Ryder Cup back to Europe. The winning captain is still basking in that victory, an achievement that means his legacy to golf won’t be three shots in a bunker on another Sunday in July 2003.

The same nagging question Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hilary must have faced after scaling Everest in 1953 is now foremost in Bjorn’s mind.

Now what?

Bjorn has co-authored a book, Mind Game: The Secrets of Golf’s Winners, with Sunday Times journalist Michael Calvin which delves not only into that Ryder Cup victory, but into the demons tournament golfers face on a regular basis. Martin Kaymer, Robert Karlsson, Matt Wallace, Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood and others give personal insights.

The book tees off with Bjorn’s story of questions he would often ask while looking in the mirror. Not technical questions like why am I missing fairways or pulling putts. No, much deeper, as in: “Why are you crying? Why do you put yourself through so much pain? Why do you play this game? Who are you?”

Bjorn know what it’s like to taste golf’s lows.

“I’ve been through so much internal turmoil the last 25 years,” Bjorn said. “Those questions I ask at the beginning of the book are the questions I actually asked in my darkest moments when I looked in the mirror.

“I want to give people a deeper insight into the game. The guys featured in the book are friends of mine. They have great stories to tell about what we go through as golfers, stories people don’t often hear.”

Bjorn came close to putting his clubs away for good in 2004. The pain of losing the 2003 Open Championship was almost too much to bear. He was on the verge of becoming the first Scandinavian male major winner until he took three shots in a greenside bunker on Royal St George’s 16th hole in the final round of the Open Championship. He lost by a shot to Ben Curtis.

“It played on my mind for at least a year afterwards. I was a mess.” Bjorn told Golfweek in 2011.

What drove the then seven-time European Tour winner on to another eight victories?

“It was my kids. I felt that just packing it in wouldn’t be the best example to them.”

He’s glad he didn’t quit. Captaining a victorious Ryder Cup side soothes a lot of hurt.

“I’m probably in the best place with golf that I’ve ever been in my life,” he admits.

Bjorn still intends to play for the foreseeable future. “I love the game. I love being out there. I’m having a good time.  I can still compete. I can probably still win, but I’m not chasing the big stuff anymore. That’s not for me, but I enjoy watching these young guys chasing it.”

He still talks to the mirror, but he asks different questions.

“What do I want to do? How long do I want to go on? Is there anything else for me to do? My questions are directing me to a different place.”

Bjorn is one of Europe’s most respected players from serving 11 years as chairman of the tour’s influential tournament committee, which he still sits on. He’s always had the tour’s best interests at heart. No player since the late John Jacobs in the 1970s has been European Tour boss. Bjorn would be a pretty good second whenever current CEO Keith Pelley clears his desk.

As he showed at Le Golf National, Bjorn is a natural leader. Could he lead the European Tour?

Now there’s a good question to ask the mirror. Gwk


     

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