We've got yet another great interview for you in this edition of the Hurricane Golf Exclusive. This time, Hurricane Golf's Jason Hiland had the privilage of speaking with the 2018 European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn. A 15 time winner on the European Tour and with 21 total professional wins, Thomas is an exceptionally decorated player and truly deserving of his Ryder Cup captaincy. We were delighted he took the time to answer our questions.
Jason Hiland: Fist off some huge congratulations for being picked as the next European Ryder Cup Captain. It has to be an enormous honor. What were your emotions and thoughts when you were picked as Captain? And if you can put it in words, what does the Ryder Cup competition mean to you and your career?
Thomas Bjorn: The Ryder Cup has been a huge part of my career and I'm extremely proud to have the honor of captaining Team Europe. The day I found out was one of the greatest days of my career and something I will always remember.
Jason Hiland: With the competition being held at Le Golf National in France, what type of golfer best fits that course and what are your overall thoughts on the golf course design and why will it make a great venue for the Ryder Cup?
Thomas Bjorn: Le Golf National is a terrific golf course and one that is familiar with most of our European Tour members and I'm sure it will make for great entertainment for spectators. I've already been in discussion with the club about the setup because I feel that as much as 20 to 30 percent difference can be made by suiting this to our players. It's a tough layout and it's important for our players to understand how difficult it is but this is something I think will suit us. A lot of the course management will come down to making the rough really tough and letting it grow whilst keeping the fairways narrow and lies around the green fairly tight.
Jason Hiland: Europe has some really good young players that are becoming just world class. You have to be excited about that group being ready for the 2018 Ryder Cup. What are your thoughts on these guys?
Thomas Bjorn: As any young player, that should be a big part of your goal is to play in The Ryder Cup. It's a great event, and I always say, legends are formed on the performance of major championships, but put public legends, they are very much formed in The Ryder Cup.
The modern player today is different. He needs his support team around him. That's the way they play their golf normally. That's why guys that have been there before know exactly what's going on in their heads and that's important. We will try and be there for the players as well as we can and try and make them play as one big unit.
Jason Hiland: You have played on 3 Ryder Cup teams and have been victorious with each team. What have you learned as a player from being on those teams that you will bring to your captaincy?
Thomas Bjorn: I was always quite surprised to see how important the backroom staff are to the team and how vital they can be to the players. The captain has 12 players for the week and he has a lot of responsibility to go do different stuff and somebody's got to be with the team all the time, talk to them, make sure that everybody is all right and feed that information back to the captain, because he can't be everywhere all the time. I think you need strong people, you need people that the team respects, that they walk into the room and almost gives a captain's feeling when they are in the room; the player wants to come and talk to you; they know that you have the pedigree behind other Ryder Cups. So the players feel like they get some good information but also the captain feels he gets good information from his vice captains.
Jason Hiland: From your playing days on the Ryder Cup, what was the best match you were ever involved in and what made the match so challenging? Please describe the setting
Thomas Bjorn: I'm not sure about the best match but I can remember the Ryder Cup in 2002 and playing against Tiger and Paul Azinger with Darren (Clarke) on the first morning. We were underdogs to win the trophy that year and we were fortunate to win that match and set the tone for the week. The team fought for each other and I'll never forget that.
Jason Hiland: Although you are the upcoming Ryder Cup Captain you are also still a player. So what equipment changes have you made for the 2017 season and what benefits are you seeing in your game this year with the equipment? Also any new shafts or grips for 2017?
Thomas Bjorn: I made one significant change to my equipment this year and that was going to EPIC woods. Why wouldn't you, you only need to hit them once to realise they are just better.
Jason Hiland: You have 15 wins on the European Tour which is a heck of a career. What win stands out as the one that means the most to you and your career?
Thomas Bjorn: They are all special to me for many different reasons, for example a player will always remember their first pro victory but for me, I'll never forget the Dubai Desert Classic in 2001. At the time it was the biggest win of my career and to be paired with Tiger for all four days and go toe to toe with him when he was in his prime is a memory I'll treasure.
Jason Hiland: What are your favorite 3 courses on the European Tour and your 3 favorite courses you have played on the US PGA Tour and what makes these courses so great?
Thomas Bjorn: Loch Lomond, Majlis Dubai and St. Andrew's in Europe.
Augusta National, TPC Sawgrass and Pebble Beach in the US.
To be honest, all six courses are just great places to play and also a superb test of golf.
Jason Hiland: Are you planning on playing the Champions Tour in the United States once you turn 50? If so, what do you think will be the best part of that tour?
Thomas Bjorn: It's certainly something I would consider but it's not in the forefront of my mind right now as I'm still aiming to perform my best on the European Tour
Jason Hiland: My final question is this. What 3 players from the European Tour would be most fun to go have a round of golf (at a great course), a superb dinner, and a few drinks with and what makes these guys great to hang out with?
Thomas Bjorn: Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Three great friends with brilliant sense of humor. Trust me, it would be fun.