Thomas Bjorn didn’t hesitate as he picked out his four wild card selections as the most significant decision of his winning captaincy in the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in the suburbs of Paris.
The Dane was heavily criticised in particular for handing one of those four spots to an out-of-form Sergio Garcia after Matt Wallace had claimed his third European Tour victory of the season in the final qualifying event, the Made in Denmark.
The Spaniard repaid Bjorn’s faith by picking up three points in the thumping 17½-10½ victory over a strong United States team, becoming the record point scorer in the biennial event with 25½ points as he leapfrogged Nick Faldo on 25.
Henrik Stenson, with three wins out of three, also played his part in the victory in France, as did Bjorn’s two other picks, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, with two and one and a half points respectively.
“They delivered,” said the European captain, speaking to reporters before leaving France. “That was not down to me. It was down to them. They wanted to deliver.”
Asked if he’d felt under pressure, particularly after the backlash that followed Garcia’s selection, he added: “Yeah, but I put plans together with them. It was so much easier for me to put plans together with them because I know them so well.
“I could have conversations with them and know how they work, what they do, what makes them tick, what makes them do the right things coming into it, so we could out-lay plans for them and then go with that.”
Bjorn revealed that Garcia had been true to his word by contributing three points on the Spaniard’s eighth appearance in the transatlantic tussle. “Before I selected him, I called him and I said to him, ‘if I play you four times, how many points are you going to give me?’, and he said three.
“I knew I wanted him on the team, but I was pushing him. I kept pushing him to making him feel like he needed to do the work. He needed to be aware that this was not an easy choice for me because there were guys that played better and that made if difficult.
“But we put a plan together and he outlined what he was going to do and he stuck to that and he came here and delivered.”
Garcia is renowned for his accuracy off the tee, as are Stenson, Casey and Poulter. That, revealed Bjorn, had been a common denominator in the quartet earning spots for a match that was played on one of the toughest courses in Ryder Cup history.
“You need people that can drive the golf ball here, it’s as simple as that,” observed Bjorn. “The way it this golf course is set up, you have to be in the fairways and they all do that well.”