Rejuvenated Bjorn focusing on his playing career, might be captain later

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Even at age 40, Thomas Bjorn has offered plenty of evidence this year that his playing career is far from on the slide.
By
Steve Douglas
Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Thomas Bjorn is putting all thoughts of the Ryder Cup captaincy to one side while he enjoys a renaissance in the twilight of his career.

The 40-year-old Bjorn is being widely spoken of as a potential leader of the European team for the 2014 Ryder Cup against the United States -- and the fact that he is chairman of the European Tour's powerful Players' Committee would only help him in that regard.

However, the veteran Dane has offered plenty of evidence this year that his playing career is far from on the slide.

He grabbed his 11th European Tour victory by winning the Qatar Masters in February and finished fourth at the British Open at Royal St. George's last month.

This week, on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles where the biennial Ryder Cup will be played in three years' time, Bjorn offered further proof there is plenty of golf left in him, shooting rounds of 68 and 69 to go into the weekend of the Johnnie Walker Championship a shot off the lead.

Now he is focusing on playing on the Ryder Cup team, rather than leading it.

"At the moment, when you feel the way I do -- I feel pretty healthy, I feel good about my game -- being on the golf course inside the ropes hitting the golf shots, that's what you want to do," he said. "As long as I enjoy it, that's what I'll focus on.

"I want to play golf at the moment... I think when you get to my age, you always hope there's one more (Ryder Cup) in you."

It hasn't always been this way for Bjorn -- he went four years without a tournament victory after his win at the Irish Open in 2006.

"It's gone up and down. There's times when you just feel like it becomes a job -- when things aren't going well on the course, you just stop enjoying it," Bjorn said. "You enjoy playing golf when you see results and you see progress. As long as I see progress, I'll keep playing."

Bjorn's results this year will likely earn him a berth for Continental Europe in the Vivendi Seve Trophy in Paris next month, under the captaincy of French player Jean Van de Velde. In 2009, Bjorn was captain of the European side that lost to Britain & Ireland.

That will keep the match-play fires burning in a player who has won the Ryder Cup twice with Europe, in 1997 and 2002.

"I want to play -- I don't want to sit on the sidelines in a buggy," said Bjorn, who was vice-captain of Europe's successful 2010 Ryder Cup team.