Interviews
Thomas Bjørn
Interviews

Europe

Bjørn backs rookies to shine

Thomas Bjørn is backing his five Ryder Cup rookies to shine as they prepare for one the biggest weeks of their careers at Le Golf National.

Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren, Thorbjørn Olesen and Jon Rahm will all tee it up in their first Ryder Cup this week but they bring plenty of winning pedigree with them.

Fleetwood is the reigning Race to Dubai champion, Noren has ten European Tour victories to his name, Rahm has been as high as Number Two on the Official World Golf Ranking and all five players have performed on the big stage with victories at Rolex Series events.

Bjørn himself was already a European Tour winner - along with three Challenge Tour wins - when he made his debut in 1997 and he has backed his five first-timers to rise to the occasion in Paris.

"The great thing about rookies is that they can't wait to get out there and get going," he said.

"Obviously, for some, the occasion on Friday can be big and daunting and for some they don't see it. You don't really know until they are on the tee.

"You want to see them get out there and you want to see what they are all about but I've got a good feeling about these five, I have to say. I feel like they are all well prepared. I feel like they are very strong. They are very class players and there's some very good quality in there.

"The way they talk about it, we get a good feeling about them, being around them. It looks like they are ready to go."

Bjørn's Captain's Picks were full of experience, with Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson having 20 Ryder Cup appearances between them.

The Dane spoke about how he wanted his more experienced heads to pass on their knowledge in practice, and was delighted to have Garcia and Poulter in his Team.

"Ian has a fantastic connection with the fans and the people around," he said. "Sergio has a fantastic connection with the players within the room and that's what they bring.

"They are no mugs when they get out on the golf course, either. They are very capable of delivering and that's where they probably get their reputation from. They have been very good at winning points on the golf course and then they bring so much else to it as well.

"They are the whole package, they are what you look for as a Captain. The people like that you want to have on your Team because they are the driving force behind where you are trying to go."

Bjørn is well known by all his players after three playing appearances and four as a Vice Captain in the Ryder Cup but he does not want the players doing it for him this week as they look for a seventh victory in nine Ryder Cups.

"I hope they are doing it for themselves," he said. "I hope they are doing it for their countries and I hope they are doing it for their continent and I hope they are doing it for each other.

"If they are only playing for me, then we have problems. That's not what we are there to do. We are there for something that's so much bigger and stronger than that. And those bonds that they get with each other, that's what it's all about."