Saturday 14 December 2019

Bjorn to Win

Europe captain praises his players after they hammer US to regain the trophy

GREAT DANE: Europe captain thomas Bjorn kisses the Ryder Cup after his side claimed victory in Paris yesterday. Pic: Reuters
GREAT DANE: Europe captain thomas Bjorn kisses the Ryder Cup after his side claimed victory in Paris yesterday. Pic: Reuters

Captain Thomas Bjorn hailed the victorious European team as the best he had been involved with after they reclaimed the Ryder Cup in Paris.

Bjorn's team wrapped up a comprehensive 17.5-10.5 victory over the United States by scoring seven-and-a-half points in yesterday's singles session at Le Golf National.

It was Bjorn's eighth taste of the Ryder Cup, having previously played in the competition three times and served as a vice-captain on four occasions.

The Dane said: "This is the best team room I've ever been in. It was calm, it was determined, it was focused, it was fun.

"Everything that this Ryder Cup was is what I think the Ryder Cup should be about for a European team.

"How do you sum that up? I felt all along that this was a good group of guys. The way they looked after each other and have been there for each other throughout the whole week made captaincy pretty easy."

Rory McIlroy echoed his captain's sentiments, claiming there was 'a bit of a love-in' between the team Europe players as the week progressed while also saluting the Dane's excellent leadership.

McIlroy said: "He's been incredible over the past two years. He's been in constant contact with all the guys that were either going to be on the team or on the periphery, and he's built up a real rapport within the squad.

"Not just with the players and himself but within the players, as well.

"We've had this WhatsApp group going for a few weeks now, and it's been a bit of a love-in for the last week,

"I'll tell you that. It's been fantastic to be a part of and one of the great things about Ryder Cups is you forge friendships that last a lifetime. I think a few of those friendships have been forged this week."

McIlroy, who lost his singles match yesterday to Webb Simpson on the final hole as part of an up and down weekend for the Northern Irishman, still contributed two points to the winning tally and Bjorn admitted his toughest task was deciding who to select from his in-form team.

"The hardest thing about the captaincy was that there were so many guys playing well, that I wanted to get everybody on the golf course, but you can't."

Europe came into the final day holding a 10-6 lead and their ultimate margin of victory looked convincing, but the United States did make them battle hard. They claimed three points early on to move within one and, at that stage, what proved a pivotal match between Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods was in the balance.

Bjorn said: "There was a little moment in the middle of it all where I was getting a little bit worried, but then everybody stood up and did their bit.

"I can't describe how I feel about these 12. They have been amazing from day one and I'm just so proud of them."

All 12 members of Bjorn's team contributed at least a point over the three days.

Bjorn said: "That doesn't happen very often. The whole team has been part of this.

Bjorn attracted some criticism over his wildcard selections in the build-up to the tournament after opting for experience over form in, most notably, the case of Sergio Garcia. Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson were his other picks.

Bjorn said: "I'm not very good at adding up, but I'm sure if I put these numbers together, they make the difference in the score. I think I got it right and they have been fantastic."

Garcia thanked Bjorn for showing faith in him after delivering three record-breaking points which saw him surpass Nick Faldo to become the most successful points-scorer in the history of the competition with 25.5.

Garcia followed up victories in the foursomes and fourballs over the first two days to beat Rickie Fowler 2&1 yesterday to put a poor year which has seen the Spaniard miss the cut in all four majors behind him.

Garcia said: "I don't usually cry but I couldn't help it.

"What a week. It's been a rough year but we fought hard

"Obviously I'm so thankful for Thomas picking me and believing in me and I'm so happy to get the cup back here in Paris and in Europe."

It was Garcia's ninth appearance in the Ryder Cup and he was pleased to set a new individual record, although he stressed victory mattered far more.

He said:"It's a bonus. It's something that I never thought I would have the possibility of doing, and now that it's happened, I'm just so happy."

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