A TOUR veteran, Thomas Bjorn is a well-respected figure in golf circles around the world. With 15 European Tour titles to his credit, Bjorn is undoubtedly the most successful golfer from Denmark. The much-travelled player is a regular in the Middle East as well.
As the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters celebrated two decades of its existence, Bjorn, who competed in the inaugural edition in 1998, spoke about how much the tournament has evolved and the legacy it has left on the sport in the region.
“I remember the first edition. Golf in the region was in its infancy as you had only the Dubai Desert Classic for a few years. So it was an interesting time to come. But now when you come to Qatar, it feels awesome. Amazing development has taken place in such a short span of time. Everything here has just grown. When you’ve a venue like this, it’s such a good asset for a big event. This tournament now just sits so well with the players all over the world and the whole three-week Desert Swing blends together so nicely,” said Bjorn.
Though Bjorn has competed at the Doha Golf Club (DGC) regularly, he had to wait till 2011 to lift his maiden Mother of Pearl Trophy.
“It was great to finally win here. I always felt that this golf course suits my game really well. I was working hard towards doing well and I knew I could do well, but I never quite got it done until 2011,” recalled Bjorn about his four-shot victory over Alvaro Quiros.
However, the 45-year-old ended up with a five-under-par 297 last Sunday, which could earn him only a 48th-place finish. He had ended up tied-23rd in the previous week in Abu Dhabi.
Despite having unimpressive results, Bjorn was dwelling on the feel-good factor about the golf courses in the Middle East and DGC in particular.
“I don’t know what happened. It seems like a long time ago I won here. But you obviously come to places where you’ve got good memories and there’s a good feeling in the body when you get going, and that’s probably the thing that you can draw on the most. You know you’ve a way of playing on this course. So it suits you to some extent.
“You’ve always got to get a start on Thursday and Friday. If you get off to a decent start, then you carry on from there and get yourself into a strong position, That’s what it’s all about,” he added.
Bjorn, the first Dane to qualify for a Ryder Cup way back in 1997, will add another feather to his cap as he has been named the captain of the Europe team for the 2018 edition to be held in Paris, France.
Bjorn, who has been the vice-captain four times, does not want the Ryder Cup talk to be a distraction for neither him nor his players.
“At the moment, I’m still focused on my own game. There’re obviously a lot of things behind the scenes that need to be in place for the Ryder Cup. Right now, I don’t have any idea which 12 players are going to be in. So I just want them to go and play and try to win tournaments.
“I know the 30 best players well enough. I’ve a fair idea as to what what they’re capable of. There’re obviously a few youngsters that you keep a look out for, but I’m not getting into details yet. I’m focusing on my own game and letting the other players enjoy their golf. There’s a long way to go before 2018,” Bjorn concluded.