European captain Thomas Bjorn looking forward to Tiger Woods in Ryder Cup

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France — Tiger Woods‘ return to the U.S. team after a six-year absence will make the Ryder Cup showdown even better, according to European captain Thomas Bjorn.

“He brings so much greatness to the game of golf,” Bjorn told the Associated Press in an interview Saturday, two weeks before the action in France.

A runner-up finish at the PGA Championship last month behind Ryder Cup teammate Brooks Koepka ensured a resurgent 42-year-old Woods won selection from Bjorn’s counterpart, Jim Furyk.

It will be an eighth Ryder Cup appearance, and the first since 2012, for Woods, whose only win was in 1999. He has a losing record overall but is 4-1-2 in singles matches.

“For such a big event, you want big personalities, big profiles. I’m excited about seeing that American team. I’m excited about seeing Tiger back in the fold,” Bjorn said in France at the Evian Championship women’s major.

The Sept. 28-30 event at Le Golf National in the southwest suburbs of Paris is a rare chance for French fans to watch Woods close up.

How Furyk chooses to use Woods is not open to speculation by Europe’s captain. Bjorn, who won all three Ryder Cups he played in, was a vice captain in 2004 and saw an opening-day Woods-Phil Mickelson pairing backfire at Oakland Hills with two losses.

“Whatever [Woods] brings to the American team and all that, that’s for the Americans to answer and Jim to deal with,” Bjorn said. “I focus on our 12 and what they do.”

Instead, the 47-year-old Dane is “quite excited” about his five rookies — compatriot Thorbjorn OlesenJon RahmTyrrell HattonTommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren.

“I think they’re a great bunch of guys, and they’ve proven themselves on the world stage,” Bjorn said.

Lacking Ryder Cup play, they combine for more experience than the Americans on the par-71 Albatros course. It has hosted the French Open on the European Tour for more than 25 years.

Noren won there in July, as did Fleetwood for the 2017 edition. In 2014, Koepka missed the cut — as did Bjorn — when the now three-time major winner was an unheralded member of the European Tour.

“It’s a nice thing that we know it well, but if it’s a big advantage? I don’t think so,” said Bjorn. “When you take the best players in the world and put them on any golf course, they are going to find a way around it.”

Bjorn was once a top-10 player, but his game has declined during an intense 20 months of preparation for his team. He is ranked No. 847, but that does not matter now.

“I lead from behind, and I push them forward,” Bjorn said of his players. “It’s their moment to shine. It’s their Ryder Cup.

“I’ve never met a player yet who doesn’t get surprised about how great it is. I think they all will react really well to it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.