7 December 2016
Thomas Bjorn will become the first Dane, and the first Scandinavian, to lead Team Europe at the next edition of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris France, from September 28th – 30th 2018.
Chosen by the five-man selection panel comprising of the three most recent European Ryder Cup Captains – Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal – as well as the Chief Executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley, and European Tour Tournament Committee member Henrik Stenson, 45-year-old Bjorn will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role of team captain. According to the 2010 European Team Captain Colin Montgomerie, Bjorn was the “obvious choice” for the role. He said, “’I saw first-hand what he was like as a vice-captain in 2010, and he was exceptional. We need to win the Ryder Cup back in France, and I feel we’ve got the best captain to do that.”
Having featured in three victorious European Ryder Cup teams as a player, namely Valderrama in 1997, The Belfry in 2002 and at Gleneagles in 2014, Bjorn understands the pressures of playing in such a heated environment. Moreover, Bjorn has also served as a vice-captain on four previous occasions – most recently under Darren Clarke in the defeat to Team USA at Hazeltine this year. As well as possessing an impressive Ryder Cup record, Bjorn has also had a stellar individual career having amassed 15 European Tour wins over a 20-year career.
On the announcement of his new role, Bjorn said, “It’s a huge honour for me to be named European captain for The 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris. This is one of the greatest days in my career.”
Given Bjorn’s history with the Ryder Cup, as well as the respect he has garnered through his development of the European Tour as Chairman of the Tournament Committee, a role he has held since 2007, it is difficult to argue with the appointment with Bjorn as the next European Team Captain.
However, despite his glowing CV, Bjorn can at times be a feisty character – a trait he demonstrated in 2006 with an outburst at being left out of Ian Woosnam’s European Team. As such it will be interesting to see how he engages with his team, as well as the media. Additionally, Bjorn has previous experience of captaining a team having captained a strong Continental Europe Team in the 2009 Seve Trophy. Despite having the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson at his disposal, Bjorn suffered a heavy defeat to the GB&I team losing 16.5 to 11.5.
Bjorn has no doubt learned from his previous experience of captaining a team, as well as having the benefit of the tutelage of Clarke and co. from successful Ryder Cup battles. As such, I am confident he remains the right man for the role. Indeed, now his appointment has been announced, I can’t wait to follow the twists and turns of the European Tour over the next few seasons to see who Bjorn will be taking with him to Le Golf National to try and win back the Ryder Cup.
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