European Tour

Bjorn hails recent triumphs for key men McIlroy, Casey

2018-03-26 10:07
Thomas Bjorn (Getty)

Val-d'Isre - European captain Thomas Bjorn hailed PGA Tour titles for leading players Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey earlier this month as "very important" for his team's Ryder Cup chances in September. 

Four-time major champion McIlroy shrugged off an indifferent run of form with a stunning victory at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, racing to victory with five birdies in the final six holes. 

That came just seven days after England's Casey, who is set to return to the Ryder Cup after a 10-year absence, held off a resurgent Tiger Woods to clinch a thrilling Valspar Championship. 

"The last couple of weeks with Casey and McIlroy winning in America has been very important," Bjorn said. 

"Confidence is a strong thing and with wins confidence grows. So those who have a win in the bag know that their golf is good enough to win, that's an important thing as a whole. 

"It's also an important thing for the other players to see. 'Oh, here are two star players playing extremely well, so we have to play well'." 

The form of Northern Irishman McIlroy and Casey could be vital as Europe bid to regain the trophy after the 2016 loss at Hazeltine, while Spaniards Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia will also have big roles to play. 

Denmark's Bjorn will now have to start thinking about his four wildcards, with Swedish duo Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren currently among those outside the automatic qualification places. 

"It (wildcard pick) is there for if there are players that miss out who are coming into great form, or to balance out the team in rookies and experienced players," added the 47-year-old Bjorn. 

"It's got to be the 12 strongest players for us to have a chance to win, but 11, 12 and 13 the margins come down to personal opinion and that's where you've got to make the hard choices. 

"In European golf today it takes a lot to be in the team. You have to be playing really consistently and really well." 

With France to host its first Ryder Cup, there have been calls for a home player to be given a wildcard to encourage locals to support the team. 

But with Alexander Levy the hosts' highest-ranked player at world number 60, that looks unlikely. 

"When it comes to the French players, I've said this all along, I'm a European Ryder Cup captain, I'm not a captain for France or for any other country either," insisted Bjorn. 

"I'll say what I've said all along, we need our 12 best players to go to Paris to have a chance to win and whatever nationality they are, that's not really my concern."

Read more on:    thomas bjorn  |  golf

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