THOMAS Bjorn, chairman of the European Tour’s tournament players’ committee, has called on his parishioners to remember their roots in the wake of the controversy surrounding last year’s inaugural “Final Series”.
The Dane is also heading back to Abu Dhabi this week feeling confident his committee made the right decision in appointing Paul McGinley as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain in the emirate 12 months ago.
Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel all opted to skip the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last November after a rule stipulated players had to tee up in two of the three events which preceded the season’s climax in Dubai.
It led eight-times European Tour No1 Colin Montgomerie to accuse some of his fellow players of acting like “royalty”, leaving Bjorn scurrying away in the background to try to ensure the European Tour wouldn’t be scarred by the events.
“We have to be well aware that we have a group of guys that are at the top of their games and, consequently, they need to focus 99 per cent of their time on themselves,” he told The Scotsman in Durban during the Volvo Golf Champions.
“But I had a long chat with pretty much all of the European guys that play golf in the US during the Final Series – and the message I tried to get across to them was about that one per cent left and how they should give a thought to where they grew up because, if they did, they might become better for it.
“I think I got that through to most of them. They’ve got to do what they think is right for their own career and they will stand or fall by their own decisions.
“We can’t create an equal alternative to the PGA Tour. But we can create spells in the year that are a good alternative and I think those four Final Series events turned out to be better than a lot of the players had imagined in their heads.”
It was Bjorn who announced McGinley’s appointment as Ryder Cup captain a year ago tomorrow, the Irishman being preferred for the match at Gleneagles rather than 2010-winning skipper Colin Montgomerie.
“We made the right choice and, in the end, I don’t think we had much of a choice to make, to be honest,” insisted Bjorn. “I’m delighted that Paul is the captain and he’s been brilliant.
“Paul has been a successful member of Ryder Cup teams but he’s also a person people take to and, as a whole, it has worked out really well.”
Similarly to Paul Lawrie at Medinah, Bjorn is on course to be back playing in the event after an absence of more than a decade. But, despite the fact the 42-year-old won the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship on the PGA Centenary Course, he’s reluctant to talk up that possibility at present.
“I’ve played in [two] Ryder Cups before, so I know what it takes,” he said. “But it’s a tough team to make these days and you’ve got to stay focused on what is right there in front of you to have a chance of getting on to it.
“I like the golf course, there’s no doubt about that. It suits my eye and suits the way I play the game. Paul is very well aware of the people that have done well there in the past. But he has so many great players bidding to make this team.”