Bjorn backs Faldo's picks

Thomas Bjorn tells William Johnson about the wonderful team spirit Europe teams generate.

Having missed out as a wild-card pick on the Ryder Cup team in 2006, Thomas Bjorn had criticised the captain Ian Woosnam but now has urged those omitted to take the blow on the chin.
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Thomas Bjorn was relieved when the highly competitive race to earn wild-card entries into Europe's Ryder Cup team reached a dignified conclusion with little more than a murmur of dissatisfaction from the disappointed players who did not make the cut. The captain Nick Faldo selected Paul Casey and Ian Poulter for this weekend's tournament - and avoided much of the undignified response to Ian Woosnam's selections two years ago. On that occasion, Bjorn thought he should have got the nod ahead of Lee Westwood from Woosnam and said so in no uncertain terms, calling Woosnam "pathetic" and declaring that the relationship between the two men was "dead". Bjorn, the experienced Dane who was last year elected as the chairman of the European Tour's tournament committee, admitted he behaved in a manner unbecoming of a high-ranking officer. Bjorn also said he had sympathy for those omitted - notably Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie - but urged them to take the painful blow with more grace than he did. Fined ?10,000 (Dh52,000) and severely censured following that outburst, Bjorn, who apologised to Woosnam afterwards, wanted to erase that unfortunate episode from the history books. "The last Ryder Cup is an over and done thing for me," he said. "Woosie and I were friends before and we will continue to be after that incident. We still speak a lot and are on good terms. "The issue of the two captain's picks had to be one for Nick to deal with the way he thinks fit. "Nick has played in more matches than anybody. He will know how to handle himself." Bjorn was one of captain Bernhard Langer's assistants in 2004, and said that Europe have a strong chance of defending the title. "We have a very young team of great players and we are going to give the Americans a run for their money again," he said. "People will claim that we are favourites going into it, but on world rankings that is a difficult claim to make. Our players will be up for it as always. It is a great spectacle - the greatest standalone golf event in the world. "I hope we win. The European Tour means a lot to the players and it means a lot to our Tour when the European team wins. I wish Nick all the luck in the world." Bjorn put the recent European dominance of the Americans down to greater team spirit. "I emphasise that I am not saying they lack team spirit," he said. "I don't know how it works in the American team and I won't comment. Maybe they have great team spirit: I simply don't know. I only know that it works on the European team side. "We have a belief about the Ryder Cup. We believe we have the right system. We have a great spirit in the team. We have had outstanding captains who have guided us in the right direction. "Certain players lift their game by a massive amount when the Ryder Cup comes along. "It is the whole team who work so well together from our tour staff right the way up to the top players and the captain. "They all work as a team and a unit and that happens any team in any sport is going to be difficult to beat. "The pressure is off our players because if Europe don't win it is not considered a big surprise, despite our recent run of successes. "So they go and play and enjoy themselves. You have got to enjoy it and that can be very difficult if the camaraderie is not great."