Golf

Thomas Bjorn already losing sleep over Ryder Cup captaincy

Phil Casey

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Thomas Bjorn will captain odds-on favourites Europe in this week's EurAsia Cup - but he admits the prospect of performing the same role at the Ryder Cup is already giving him sleepless nights.

The inaugural EurAsia Cup finished as a 10-10 tie in 2014, with a European side captained by Darren Clarke cruising to a 13-point victory over Team Asia two years ago.

That did not translate into Ryder Cup success at Hazeltine, however, with Europe suffering their first defeat since 2008 and Bjorn's first in six contests as either a player or vice-captain.

And that means the 46-year-old Dane is giving everything he can to ensure Europe regain the trophy from the United States at Le Golf National in Paris in September.

"In terms of how all-consuming the captaincy is, I really feel it's on my mind 24/7," Bjorn told Press Association Sport. "I even wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it.

"When I walk around (at events) and see Tyrrell Hatton and Sergio Garcia, my mind is on them, how they're playing and how I can utilise them.

"I thought that I might play a few tournaments in December, but when I came off the 18th green at the Nedbank Golf Challenge I changed my mind and was glad not to be playing in December, because I have so many thoughts about the team.

"I used all of December to get these thoughts down on paper and get my head straight about how I want this team to take shape. It really is on my mind all of the time, and no matter what little thing I'm thinking about, it has a Ryder Cup perspective.

"If that's the way Paul (McGinley) and Darren (Clarke) approached their captaincy, it's probably the reason I am approaching mine in the same way, and the reason that whoever is the next captain has to take the same approach.

"Everything that people say about it is true, and it's a lot more than you think it will be.

"Whereas before, if I made two bogeys in a row, I used to channel my temper and frustration to make two birdies on the next holes, but now if I make two bogeys in a row I find myself watching what other guys are doing at tournaments I'm playing in."

The EurAsia Cup format sees six fourball matches contested on Friday, six foursomes on Saturday and 12 singles matches on Sunday at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.

European number one Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey take on Ben An and Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the opening match, followed by Thomas Pieters and Matt Fitzpatrick against Yuta Ikeda and Gavin Green.

Sweden's Alex Noren and Ireland's Paul Dunne then take on Hideto Tanihara and Phachara Khongwatmai, with Henrik Stenson and Alexander Levy up against Sunghoon Kang and Poom Saksansin, while Bernd Wiesberger and Rafa Cabrera Bello face Nicholas Fung and Li Haotong.

The final match pitches English pair Ross Fisher and Hatton against India's Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia.

::: Thomas Bjorn is a Rolex Testimonee. Rolex has been a partner of the European Ryder Cup team since 1995.

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