Captain's Blog: August
Hi everyone and welcome to the latest of my monthly blogs as we continue the journey towards The 2018 Ryder Cup. Since we last spoke, I’ve played some of my best golf in recent memory as well as catching up with the man who will be my opposite number at Le Golf National – so let’s kick off with a look at that.
During last week’s US PGA Championship I bumped into Jim Furyk and we had time for a quick chat. He’s already made his first trip to Paris and to Le Golf National and was happy with what he saw. He will have his own ideas of course, but we will get together again and have further discussions about how we will make the whole Ryder Cup work for both teams. It’s a funny thing because you are matched up against one another and of course it is precisely that on the week of the event. But there are so many other things that you work together on in the build-up, including the Year to Go event in October which we’re both very much looking forward to. The trip to Quail Hollow was also beneficial for me to catch up with our leading players. I saw a lot of people and had a lot of good conversations over the week, so from a Captain’s point of view, it was a very useful outing.
In tournament mode……
It has also been a very enjoyable month for me inside the ropes. After the injury problems I’ve had and the stop-start nature of my last couple of seasons, it was good to play four weeks in a row recently with the Scottish Open being the last week. It definitely got me into the feeling of actually playing golf again and being out on the course continuously. I really got the bit between my teeth and the last round in Scotland – where I shot 67 to finish in a tie for 15th place – was particularly satisfying. I followed that up with the European Open in Hamburg a couple of weeks later where, once again, there were signs of some good stuff and I was pleased with a T33 finish. It was definitely nice for me to be in tournament mode again and to prove to myself that I can still shoot the numbers.
Dividing my life……
One of the main challenges of being Ryder Cup Captain is that you have got to try and divide your life. Sometimes you have to walk down the range, go and find a quiet corner and shut yourself in a bubble because you need to do the work for your day job. When you do put in that work it can pay off, as I showed in Scotland. Golf is a funny game in a sense that, no matter how you try and convince yourself that, being Ryder Cup captain, tournament golf doesn’t matter that much, once you are playing well, you go into your own little world and your own golf becomes so important again. Once you’re in there, you realise that’s where you’ve been for the past 30 years and you realise too that this is the moment for the golfer Bjørn and not the Ryder Cup Captain Bjørn. Having said that though, you might be hitting balls on the range for ten minutes and it only takes someone to come along and ask you a Ryder Cup question and then the whole bubble disintegrates. It is definitely a balancing act but as I’ve said many times, being Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain is a tremendous honour and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A special moment…….
The Made in Denmark tournament on the European Tour next week is always a special occasion but with next week’s event also coinciding with my 500th appearance on Tour, it is sure to be extra special. Every year it has been fantastic for all the Danish players to go home and play in front of our own fans who turn out in their thousands. We hadn’t had that on Tour for over 20 years but now this will be the fourth consecutive year of Made in Denmark. It is actually amazing to think that I have played 500 events on the European Tour – not everyone gets to that level, and it will be pretty special to achieve it in Denmark, that’s for sure. I’m definitely looking forward to the week but I guess I am also a little bit nervous about it – but in a good way! I am looking forward to sharing the celebration with everyone involved in Danish golf and with people who have been there for me my whole golfing life – from sponsors, friends and fans, to the many people I’ve played with over the years. Of course I can’t forget my family and I’m delighted that my mother will be there too next week to help me celebrate.
Under starter’s orders….
I am also very much looking forward to the points race for The 2018 Ryder Cup team getting underway officially in the Czech Republic in a couple of weeks’ time. There are many major milestones along the journey of a Ryder Cup Captain and this is definitely one of them. When the points start accumulating is when The Ryder Cup becomes a ‘thing’. Before then it is a concept, but when people have something they can actually relate to in terms of holding a piece of paper in their hands with the points lists on it, that’s when it becomes real. As we move along and get into the start of next year it also becomes part of the weekly narrative of golf with people surmising that so-and-so looks like a ‘lock’ in the team or so-and-so needs to do a bit of work to make the team etc. You can also sense it in the media as the excitement starts to build.
Good luck Europe…..
While our tussle with the United States remains over a year away, the cream of European women’s golfing talent is in Iowa this week to contest the Solheim Cup, a match which is always very exciting and tends to be very close. Captain Annika Sorenstam has a young team but an exciting one too and from a Danish standpoint I was obviously delighted to see that Emily Kristine Pedersen got picked. I was fortunate to spend a couple of days recently at the Women’s British Open in Scotland and I saw first-hand how talented some of these players are and how excited they are about facing the Americans and trying to win the trophy back they lost in Germany two years ago. It will not be an easy task but in their captain they have someone who I believe is, arguably, the best player ever to play in the women’s game. For me, to play under Seve Ballesteros in my first Ryder Cup in 1997 was a huge moment in my career and I would say that for these girls who have the opportunity this week to play under Annika, it will be a similar experience and something they will always look back on with pride. They are up against a strong American side but I wish them all the very best of luck in their quest.
Until next time…….