Thomas Bjorn (Getty Images)
Having enjoyed one of the most successful years of his European Tour career in 2011, Denmark's Thomas Björn is fired up to defend his title at the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, from August 23-26.
For the World Number 37 it will be a welcome return to the 2014 Ryder Cup venue, Gleneagles, where he recorded his second out of three victories during the 2011 European Tour season after prevailing in a thrilling five-man play-off at the expense of George Coetzee, Mark Foster, Pablo Larrazábal and Bernd Wiesberger.
Having made his way back into the winners’ circle with an early season victory at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy, Björn followed his victory at Gleneagles by winning the Omega European Masters in Switzerland a week later, and finished the season ninth on The Race to Dubai. It was the first time in the 41 year-old’s career that he had collected three trophies in one season and he is looking forward to more success after finishing tied runner up in the ISPS Handa Wales Open.
“Gleneagles was a real highlight for me as it proved my win in Qatar wasn’t just a flash in the pan,” he said. “I was delighted with the week and glad to stay cool, calm and collected in that tense play-off. Winning the week after made it a really special fortnight.”
This year the Championship takes on an even bigger significance with it being the final qualifying event for The 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.
European Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal will also announce his two captains’ picks on the Monday following the Championship so there will be plenty to play for over what is surely to be four memorable days.
Björn who will be vying to become the first man to successfully defend the Johnnie Walker Championship knows just how important a good finish at Gleneagles will be.
"Jose’s side is going to be so hard to make,” he said “The strength in depth of our players is unbelievable and to have any chance you have got to play fantastic golf for a full year. If I am still in with a chance of making it when the Championship gets underway you can be assured I will be doing everything I can to make that team.”
Championship Director, Graeme Marchbank of Diageo, official partners of the 2014 Ryder Cup, is looking forward to the Championship field taking shape.
"It's always a pleasure to welcome back our defending champion to Gleneagles, we have a great roster of winners and we look forward to announcing more world-class players as we countdown to the event itself"
“Being a Ryder Cup year we are confident that the final field will include many of the biggest names in the world of golf, including many candidates all looking to secure their spot on the plane to Medinah.”.
Gleneagles recently reopened its PGA Centenary Course following extensive alterations to a number of holes. The modifications were devised in consultation with course designer Jack Nicklaus with the most dramatic alterations apparent on the 9th and 18th.
Richard Hills, the European Tour’s Ryder Cup director, said: “I am sure the course changes will help deliver a truly memorable occasion when The Ryder Cup comes to Gleneagles in two years’ time.”
Tickets are available at the course and at www.europeantourtickets.com
. Parking is free. For full details on the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles visit www.johnniewalkerchampionship.com
; for further details on The Gleneagles Hotel, visit www.gleneagles.com