Bjorn to defend Gleneagles title in Scotland

  • Article by: BERNIE MCGUIRE , Associated Press
  • Updated: August 22, 2012 - 11:39 PM

As one of the Ryder Cup vice captains for Europe, the tournament could be a key.

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Thomas Bjorn

Photo: Lynne Cameron, Associated Press

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GLENEAGLES, Scotland - Defending champion Thomas Bjorn goes into the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Thursday with one eye on the Ryder Cup.

Bjorn is one of the European Ryder Cup vice captains, and the Walker Championship ends the race for the 10 automatic spots on the team. Bjorn has been busy tracking the progress of the team, which will play next month against the United States at Medinah in Illinois.

So far, Bjorn likes what he's seen, particularly the back-to-back success of winners Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. Jose Maria Olazabal will add two captain's picks for the Ryder Cup matches.

"It has been a couple of important weeks," Bjorn said. "When they play the way they have done, it leaves a little bit less room for our guys. So Kiawah (McIllroy's wins) was very important, and Sergio's win last week was also very important.

"It just gives a boost to the whole European team. Five weeks away is the perfect timing for all of them to be right on top of their game."

McIlroy not only won his second Major championship but stormed past Tiger Woods and Luke Donald to take back the top ranking by winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C.

Garcia ended a four-year PGA Tour winless drought last Monday in capturing the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina.

Bjorn will be joined as vice captain by former British Open winner Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland and Ireland's Paul McGinley. All three served in the same capacity in 2010 under Colin Montgomerie.

Olazabal will choose his fourth vice captain later this week and make his two wild-card picks on Monday.

One of those could be big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who is ranked 12th and two places outside of automatic qualifying for the Ryder Cup side.

However, the 29-year old Colsaerts could guarantee his place on the team by finishing first or second at Gleneagles. If successful, Colsaerts will be the only rookie among the 10 automatic qualifiers.

"I think the best way to go about it, is to be very humble," Colsaerts said. "Ollie (Olazabal) has been around so many of them that he's got all the scenarios covered regardless of what I do, what some of the other guys do. I still have a way to get myself in, but I'd like to think that I'm a pretty good position to get a pick."

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