Fittingly for a player who became Denmark’s first Ryder Cup player in 1997, Thomas Björn used his country’s first European Tour event in 11 years to significantly boost his chances of a return to the biennial contest, finishing in a share of second place in Made in Denmark.
Denmark’s most successful player began the week inside the automatic qualifying spots on the World Points List, and with just two week’s remaining until Paul McGinley’s European Team is finalised, he would now appear well-position to make his third Ryder Cup appearance at Gleneagles next month.
Björn’s rewarding week at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort came at the end of a gruelling run of six tournaments in seven weeks for the 43 year old, but the stretch has yielded a top eight finish in the BMW International Open, a share of 26th place in The Open Championship and tied 15th place at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, before he saved the display best of all for his home fans.
That should all-but seal a welcome return to the European Team for the player who last featured against the United States at The Belfry in 2002, a year before The European Tour last visited Denmark. He served as a Vice Captain at the last two Ryder Cups, but now looks set to extend his Ryder Cup playing career.
“I hope I’m there for the Ryder Cup now,” he said. “I’m taking next week off and I will speak to Paul tonight or tomorrow and see what his thinking is. At the moment I feel like I need a few weeks off so it was good to play well here.
“It’s been brilliant to come home and play in front of these crowds. My golf has been so-so, but I’ve still managed to battle out something. You can’t really describe the atmosphere this week. When you travel around the world then come home and play in front of your home crowds, it’s amazing.
“I was quite determined when I got out there today and got the good start I wanted. I just ran dry on the greens. It wasn’t to be. I thought if I could rattle off a few birdies I could apply some pressure. The greens were where I struggled this week. I drove the ball fantastic and there are a lot of good things to build on. I always say if you finish top ten in a golf tournament you have played pretty well. I did that this week, but it wasn’t to be.”
While it was a case of a job well done on the course, Björn was also delighted with what he saw outside the ropes in Aalborg following the success of The European Tour’s return to Denmark for the first time in 11 years.
Björn, who is Chairman of The European Tour Tournament Committee, was one of the driving forces behind the tournament, which he and his fellow Danish players championed as a celebration of the country’s achievement on the world stage.
With three Danes – Thorbjørn Olesen, Søren Kjeldsen, and Lasse Jensen - finishing inside the top 15, and impressive crowds of more than 80,000 lining the fairways and providing a terrific atmosphere at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, the 15-time European Tour champion was rightly proud of the inaugural edition of Made in Denmark.
It even prompted him to take a special memento from the occasion, stopping on the 16th hole for a selfie.