Bjørn appointment welcomed
Thomas Bjørn's appointment as Europe's captain for the 2018 Ryder Cup has been given a resounding seal of approval by four of the men who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him at Hazeltine National earlier this year.
The Dane was on Monday selected by the five-man panel to lead Europe at Le Golf National in the quest to regain the trophy lost for the first time in eight years in Minnesota after going down 17-11 to the United States.
His first taste of defeat came in October, when Ian Poulter was also serving as a vice-captain, and the Englishman - many times a Ryder Cup hero himself - is confident Bjørn can be the man to lead Europe back to winning ways.
“I think it's very nice for Thomas to be appointed,” he said. “He's someone that has not only got a lot of experience in Ryder Cups as a player but in the last few Ryder Cups he's been there as a vice-captain helping out.
“There is nothing Thomas Doesn't know about the Ryder Cup. For him it will be a huge honour, he'll take it very well and he's going to do a fantastic job.
“He'll be a good captain. He'll be very vocal - he's not quiet, he never has been quiet - and Thomas will be very thoughtful and do a fantastic job.”
Justin Rose is another player who has both played alongside Bjørn and seen him in action as a vice captain and he believes his closeness to the players, via his position as Chairman of the Tour’s Players' Committee, and his recent active playing schedule could prove invaluable.
“Thomas has always been at the epicentre really of everything that goes on at the European Tour,” he said.
“He's been on the Players' Committee for a long time, and in terms of decision-making and policy on Tour, he's always front and centre of it.
“So I think it will be a role that suits him. He's obviously very current in terms of his game. He's going to be on Tour a lot. He's going to have a very hands-on approach with the players.”
Danny Willett experienced that hands-on approach himself as he made his debut at Hazeltine National in the autumn, and he was happy to give then captain Darren Clarke - now a member of the selection panel - a glowing assessment of Bjørn.
“It's a great appointment,” he said. “I'm sure Clarkey asked most of the guys as he did myself, what we liked about Thomas and got a few feelings of what the lads thought.
“He did a great job for me in my first Ryder Cup in making sure that I felt good and part of the team and asking how we were and doing everything that a vice captain needs to do. He's a very strong character, he doesn't take a lot of nonsense from anyone.
“He's a guy you can lean on at times and he's strong enough to take it. A lot of people don't see that softer side of him but he's fantastic when you need an arm around you, he can play that role very well too.”
Rafa Cabrera Bello was also a debutant at Hazeltine and he believes Bjørn’s wealth of experience has earned him the respect of all his fellow players.
“I'm very happy for Thomas,” he said. “He's played lots of Ryder Cups, he's been vice captain in many of them, he has respect from all the players so I really think he's going to be a great captain.
“He knows all about the Ryder Cup already. He definitely has a very strong fighting character so I think those are good attributes for a captain.”