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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Bjorn faces demons
By Rob Hodgetts

Thomas Bjorn
I am fighting demons at the moment
Thomas Bjorn
Twelve months ago Thomas Bjorn had the world at his feet as he eyed victory in the Open at Royal St George's.

The Dane led by three shots with four holes to go but an agonising hour later he watched as Ben Curtis lifted the Claret Jug.

Bjorn's chance evaporated with a double bogey at the short 16th after taking three to get out of a greenside bunker.

And he goes into this year's Open at Royal Troon in a wretched run of form he deems "the worst of his life".

The struggling Ryder Cup star pulled out of the recent European Open after reaching four over through six holes and said: "I just can't face being in a tournament situation at the moment.

"I still have as much love for this game as I have ever had, but I want to get away, sit down and think about what I need to do.

"I work hard on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and then on Thursdays it just all seems to collapse."

Bjorn is adamant he will tee off at Royal Troon despite dark thoughts swirling around his head, and the knowledge that he should be doing so as defending champion.

Standing on the 15th tee at Royal St George's, the 33-year-old was finally where he wanted to be in a major after a distant second to Tiger Woods at St Andrews in 2000 and third in the USPGA a month later.

Thomas Bjorn at the 16th at Royal St George's
I've got to live with what happened
Thomas Bjorn

Even after a dropped shot at 15, he went to the fateful 16th still in control.

Up ahead, the little-known American Ben Curtis had holed a long putt for par on the 18th and the pair were now tied.

But Bjorn finished bogey-double bogey-bogey-par, leaving Curtis as the most unlikely of champions on his Open debut.

"I've got to live with what happened and the only thing I can try is try as hard as I can to win a major," he said at the time.

"I can't live in the past. It's easier said than done, but I think I've got through it quite well. I feel comfortable about my golf."

A week later, Bjorn lost the Irish Open in a play-off to Michael Campbell, and in October he lost to Ernie Els in the final of the World Match Play before picking up a third in Hong Kong.

Bjorn was also runner-up in February's Johnnie Walker Classic but since then he has missed the cut in four of his last five tournaments in America, including the Masters and US Open.

This is not where I want to be mentally
Thomas Bjorn

The two-time Ryder Cup player has slipped to 30th in the European standings and 11th on the world list - the top five from each qualify plus two wildcards - and looks unlikely to win a third cap in Detroit in September.

"The last three or four months have been awful. I am fine health-wise, but I am fighting some things on the course and I don't feel comfortable out there. I need to sort it out," he said.

"I am confused about what is happening and, while I know it can change quickly, I am starting to think about skipping this year - not taking it off, but disregarding the results.

"I am putting myself under so much pressure to perform week after week, but it is getting worse.

"This is not where I want to be mentally and I don't want to go on doing it.

"I want to get away and when I come back I want to be prepared and ready to play.

"It can't get much worse and I will keep working hard, but golf is not everything in life. A lot of players have been in this situation and they understand what is happening.

"I just can't face the tournament situation. I am fighting demons at the moment."

Bunkered Bjorn's sandy sorrow
21 Jul 03  |  The Open 2003

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