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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn pleased with form shown by European players last week

Dane himself played well at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, but he is thrilled to see wins for Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia

Thomas Bjorn will lead Team Europe at the Ryder Cup this year. Stanley Chou / Getty Images
Thomas Bjorn will lead Team Europe at the Ryder Cup this year. Stanley Chou / Getty Images

Thomas Bjorn woke up in Abu Dhabi on Monday morning feeling pretty good about life.

The Dane had played well at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, and finished in a tie for 30th. It came exactly a week after he passed his first test as European captain, when Bjorn led his team to victory in the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

Come Monday, his captain's hat was firmly back on.

As Europe’s Ryder Cup captain for France later this year, Bjorn had already delighted in Tommy Fleetwood’s superb win in the UAE capital the previous day. But Sergio Garcia had won, too. Jon Rahm, as well.

It was a welcome reminder of the depth of talent at Bjorn’s disposal.

“When you wake up on Monday morning and Sergio has won in Singapore and Tommy has won in Abu Dhabi and Jon has won on the PGA Tour, you can't help but thinking European golf is in very good hands right now,” Bjorn said on Tuesday at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. “There are some great players.”

Are there not just.

Not only did Fleetwood impress in Abu Dhabi, but so too Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters – the pair shared the 54-hole lead before finishing second and tied-5th, respectively – while Rory McIlroy announced his return to competitive golf with a tied-third.

Rory McIlroy seems to be on a comeback after a lukewarm 2017. David Cannon / Getty Images
Rory McIlroy seems to be on a comeback after a lukewarm 2017. David Cannon / Getty Images

The four-time major champion looked refreshed after an injury-enforced three-and-a-half month lay-off, both mentally and physically.

“Well, he hasn't missed a gym session, has he?” Bjorn said. “We make a lot out of Rory and we talk a lot about him. He's a wonderful golfer and he obviously struggled with his injuries last year.

“I had a good chat with him at [November’s] DP World Tour Championship and I saw him last week. And to see him fit and healthy and desperate to play golf, that's how you want to see him. In that position, he's very dangerous as a golfer, that's for sure.”

Bjorn understands the threat posed by the United States. The Americans won 17-11 at Hazeltine 15 months ago to reclaim the Ryder Cup, while their players have captured the three most recent major titles also. In September, they will attempt to become the first US side to win on European soil in 25 years.

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Read more

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Rory McIlroy: Heads to Dubai with 'game in good shape' after tied third in Abu Dhabi

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“You look at what 12 you've got to be up against and American golf is also in great hands at the moment,” Bjorn conceded.

But, still, the current crop of bright young things in Europe must bode well.

“It just gives me a lot of belief we are in a good place,” Bjorn said. “Where that will leave us in eight, nine months' time, you know as well as I do that the golfing world moves and it goes like a yo-yo, people go up-and-down.

“Where it leaves us at that time, we'll see. But where we are right now, I feel like there's a lot of good things to build on for a lot of these players.”

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