European captain Thomas Bjorn has delivered a “blunt” message to Russell Knox regarding the Scot’s hopes of overcoming his Ryder Cup disappointment last year to make the team for the 2018 match in France.
Speaking on the eve of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Dane said there was only one guaranteed way for the Scottish No 1 to make sure he suffers no repeat of missing out on golf’s biggest team event, having been overlooked for the Hazeltine contest by Bjorn’s predecessor, Darren Clarke, despite winning twice on the PGA Tour, including a World Golf Championship.
“You’ve got to be careful being too blunt, but there’s the obvious answer,” said Bjorn. “There’s eight spots up for grabs and I can’t do anything about those eight. So, if you want to make sure you’re on the team, get one of the eight spots. The four picks (it has been increased by one from the match in Minnesota) are there for a reason. They are to mix and match the team.
“You’ve got to make it on paper because then you’re certain. If you don’t, then you are at the mercy of somebody else and, as a sportsman, that’s never a great place to be.”
Knox has intimated that he’s likely to take up European Tour memebership again, and Bjorn has encouraged other US-based Europeans, notably Paul Casey but also Martin Laird, to do likewise in order to help give him the best chance to come out on top when he locks horns with Jim Furyk, the US captain, at Le Golf National in Paris.
“I have a long list of names on my phone of all the people that are members in America and there’s certain people that are not members in Europe,” he added. “I’ll encourage all of them, including Paul, to be a member of The European Tour, because that gives me an opportunity to get the best possible team.
“But what decision he makes, that’s Paul’s decision, and that’s his right to make that decision. I can’t do anything about that, but I’ll have a chat with him.
“You’ve also got Freddie Jacobson, Carl Pettersen and Alex Cejka. You never know who is going to come out and going to good get a resurgence of their career and they are going to play great.
“They are all as much entitled to have that conversation as anybody else, and I will have that conversation with him when I’m on the ground in America.”
“I won’t look at any player differently. Every single player that is European born that plays on these Tours is of equal importance to me right now, because I don’t know where those 12 are going to come, from I really don’t.
“I might have an idea of a couple of them that’s going to make the team, but I’ve got to give them all an opportunity to make this team. It’s about who plays the best golf and not what you’ve done in the past.”