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February 18, 2015

Darren Clarke

STEVE TODD:テつ Very pleased to say I'm with Darren, our new Ryder Cup Captain.テつ Darren, just start by giving us some thoughts on the announcement and how pleased you are.
DARREN CLARKE: テつYeah, obviously it's a huge honor for me being named as Ryder Cup Captain.テつ I think I'm very privileged to join the list of guys that have gone before me.テつ It's a huge honour and one that I'm very excited about.

Q.テつ Where exactly were you when you heard the news, and had you sort of expected it or does it still come as a major surprise to you?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I played 18 holes quickly with Tyrone this morning on one of the golf courses that we have down here and came back again and was resting a little bit beside Alison and Tyrone waiting for the news.テつ It was a very long couple of hours.
Was I expecting it?テつ No, I wasn't, because I didn't know what way the committee was going to vote.テつ Was I hoping it was going to me?テつ Then yes, obviously.テつ But I was obviously delighted when the call came through and they asked me to be Ryder Cup Captain.

Q.テつ What was your reaction?テつ Who were you with and what do you say?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I was with Alison and Tyrone, and obviously they were‑‑ Alison was as uptight as I was and Tyrone was just chilling and relaxing.テつ So obviously I was over the moon, as they were, too.

Q.テつ Just wondered, I heard you say that you were not going to change too much.テつ Is there going to be something, wild cards or number of assistants, that you think you'll do differently?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I don't think so.テつ I think if you look at it, as you guys all know how good a job that Paul did at Gleneagles and how successful that whole event was, I think it would be very silly to move away from that.テつ It was so successful:テつ The team bonding was unbelievable, and Paul's role in thingwould figure in all that; it would be stupid of me to move away from that.
I will obviously consult with other past captains, as well, and try and get as much information as I can to what was successful.テつ But I think the way Paul did things the last time at Gleneagles, it will be tough to get it any better than that.

Q.テつ Do you sort of relish the challenge of going abroad?テつ Obviously the Yanks are going to be up for this and it's going to be tough.
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Yeah, well, they are always going to be up for it.テつ The Europeans' success these past Ryder Cups, the Americans are always going to be up for it and want to get it back home.テつ Obviously Hazeltine is going to be a fantastic venue for it and the home crowd support will be doing whatever they can to get it back again.テつ Hopefully the team that will go to Hazeltine will do their utmost to try to bring The Ryder Cup back home again.

Q.テつ I just wondered, we all know about the emotion involved with The Ryder Cup, but you've probably never experienced more emotion than you did in 2006.テつ Was what you went through there sort of perfect preparation for anything you might encounter this time?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I think what I went through there was perfect preparation I would ever face in the game of golf afterwards.テつ Obviously that's been one of my most emotional experiences in the game, and just with it being The Ryder Cup, as well, everything that goes along with it, it was a very special week for me.
As you say, emotion is part and parcel of The Ryder Cup, we've seen that before; we've seen that from Seve and Josテδゥ Maria when they were partners.テつ You've seen it so many times.テつ It's a massive part of it.テつ I think The European Team has been obviously very successful in capturing that emotion and using it for their benefit.

Q.テつ We were watching SKY showing pictures of you with a pint of Guinness after 2006; will there be anything to celebrate this announcement?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ No, no, no, I'm down here playing with Tyrone in the Pro‑Am, so got to behave myself.テつ That was an emotional end of the week sort of thing at The K Club.テつ My job starts straightaway, so I'm going to try and figure out what's required of me.
With being vice captain, as I have been a couple of times before, I'm not really familiar with what was required from the captaincy‑appointed role.テつ So that's all what I have to learn and what I have to do.テつ That's all stuff that I need to get to grips with pretty quick.

Q.テつ The team obviously will be kitted out.テつ Your weight has dropped quite a bit recently.テつ Are you now going to keep it at that weight so that everything fits you?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ (Laughing).テつ That's a typical question from you, Face.テつ Yes, I don't plan to put any more back on again.テつ I may have to socialise a little bit more, but I'll try my best to keep my weight as it is, thank you for asking.

Q.テつ Just wonder how much you valued and how important you thought it was that the likes of Rory, Justin, Lee, Poulter, Martin Kaymer, these guys came out and supported your cause.テつ How much do you appreciate that and how much of a difference do you think it ultimately made?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I think obviously I appreciated it an awful lot that those guys were supporting me and have the trust in me to be their captain.
You know, without their help, would I be sitting here talking to you now?テつ I don't know, maybe yes, maybe no.テつ But the fact that they did come out and publically support me means an awful lot to me.テつ Hopefully I'll be able to repay them in any small way that I can whenever I'm captain going to Hazeltine.

Q.テつ Your assistant record in this event pressure in itself?テつ Because there's a real expectancy now that Europe are going to perform and going to do well in the Ryder Cup; it's going to be tough, and especially tough in America.
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Oh, most definitely.テつ I think I would be foolish not to realise that.テつ With the run that Europe have been on, it's exceptional.テつ We are going for our fourth straight win.テつ That hasn't been done before.テつ But with the players that we have at our disposal, I think it's definitely an achievable feat.
But it will be difficult going to America, there's no qualms about that.テつ The home crowd always makes the difference.テつ Medinah was very special, the way the guys performed on Sunday, doing what they did, coming back from where they did.テつ But yeah, I would expect a very, very stern test from America, as it always is.

Q.テつ Would it be correct to say that Lee Westwood has been given an extra incentive to make this team in two years' time next year?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Yeah, well, Lee, obviously him and I have been very good friends for a very long time.テつ We've travelled the world with each other for a very long time.テつ Lee's support to me over the years has been invaluable.テつ He was my partner on the first tee at The K Club in 2006 and I wouldn't have wanted to stand beside any other man.テつ He's a very good friend.
I think Lee if you look how he's playing now, he's still one of the best players in the world, and with the experience that he has, I can only hope that he obviously makes the team again.

Q.テつ I know you said you're pleased that Davis Love is looking like the opposing captain; are you taken a bit surprised by the news when it came out yesterday that they were going to reappoint him?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Yeah, well, I think that's just speculation, isn't it.テつ There's no confirmation yet.テつ We'll see what happens next Tuesday.テつ I think like you guys, I was looking from the outside before it was announced today, I think most people was expecting maybe Freddie to be named as captain.テつ But with Davis coming out‑‑ there isn't more of a gentleman in the sport than Davis Love, and he's a good friend and has been for a long time. And if it is him again, I'll be absolutely delighted.
But the end of the day, friendships are put on hold on that first tee on the Friday morning of The Ryder Cup.テつ The team that will be there, The European Team will be there to win and that will be our only goal being there.

Q.テつ The Americans, they have a task force now and they have been talking about maybe wild card and pairings and things over the last while.テつ Do you think they haven't just recognised that we have a really great group of players these days, and maybe not shown enough respect to the Europeans; maybe that's part of the reason?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I don't know that.テつ I'm not in their task force so I can't answer that.テつ But from our point of view, we have a lot of players, The European Tour, in the top of the World Rankings and very, very strong players.テつ Whether they are thought of with much respect or not, I would imagine that they do.テつ But in 18 holes of match play, anybody can beat anybody.
But the team gelling and stuff from the European point of view seems to be a little stronger than it is for the Americans.テつ Can you point your finger on why so successful?テつ Not really.テつ It's just the way it goes.テつ The Ryder Cup is typical.テつ Europe are on a good run and I hope that run continues.

Q.テつ You said some really nice things about Paul and everything and how you're going to talk to him.テつ Just before this call started, he said he would not want to be vice captain.テつ Would you try to get him to change his mind on that?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Well, I think it would be tough for Paul,テつ wouldn't it. He said straight after the last Ryder Cup, he did such a fantastic job at Gleneagles, would he want to be involved again on a role that's not quite as important as what the captaincy was.テつ I could understand the fact that he wouldn't want to do, and that would be his choice.
But certainly, I look forward to speaking to him in the not‑too‑distant future and trying to glean his advice and help from him.

Q.テつ Going back to when you first played The Ryder Cup, could you imagine a situation where you would have a world No. 1 that's Northern Irish, etc.?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Yeah, it's been a pretty good period for Northern Ireland, for a little small country.テつ We are fortunate that we have the likes of Rory and the likes of Graeme, and I'm very proud to be from home and have those two flying the flag for us all around the world for us as they do.

Q.テつ The captaincy is obviously very time consuming.テつ Wondering how you're going to try to marry the two in terms of your own competitive instincts which you obviously still have?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Yes, well, obviously my own competitive instincts haven't been too good of late‑‑ might actually be a blessing in disguise in terms of my golf because it will take my mind away from practising too hard and I'll have a lot of things to focus on.
So it may help me play a little bit better.テつ But certainly this year, I don't think it will make an awful lot of difference, but I would imagine next year it would make a big difference in my playing schedule.
But again, because I've only been given the position a few hours ago now, I'm not auto aware of what's required me and what's not.テつ So I have to check everything with The European Tour and then maybe I'll be in a position to answer that better in a few days' time whenever I actually know what my role and my commitments are actually going to be.

Q.テつ I was hoping to get a flavour of the last couple hours, imagine it's been pretty frantic.テつ Can you give us an idea of some of the messages of congratulations you've had, and any in particular that's meant a great deal to you?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Yeah, well, as you can imagine my phone has been very busy.テつ There's been lots of messages coming in saying congratulations and wish you well and stuff.テつ And there's been quite a few of them that are very special to me.テつ Obviously it would be stupid of me to reveal any of those but there's been a lot of ones that have been very, very nice and have been very pleased and touched to receive.

Q.テつ And some have been from guys that you would expect would probably be on your team next year, as well?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ No, I don't think anybody's actually picked just yet.

Q.テつ Have you decided yet what you'll do in terms of next year or the years following?テつ You're 46 now, and how do you rank this honour, being appointed The Ryder Cup captain against winning The Open?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Yeah, that's a good question.テつ Winning The Open was obviously a very personal thing.テつ Being afforded the honour of being captain of The Ryder Cup is a team thing.テつ I'm only there to try and help the players.テつ But in saying that, it's a huge honour.
The Ryder Cup has been so special to me for so long and obviously it's part of my golfing career; so to be given this opportunity, and is very, very special to me and means a great deal.

Q.テつ Given how emotional it was for you at The K Club as a player, wondered if you were to lift the trophy as a captain, is that an achievement that could top it?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I don't know, would it top it, no, because hopefully I wouldn't be going through the similar sort of emotions as I was in 2006.
But yes, to lift the trophy‑‑ but I wouldn't be lifting the trophy as part of the team.テつ It's the team that will be lifting the trophy.テつ I will be maybe a small cauldron in the wheel of the whole thing, and it will under be those guys that deserve the credit more than the captain.

Q.テつ Could you confirm that you don't envisage any changes in wild cards and qualification standings, and also, have there been moments during your Ryder Cup career, that you thought you'd really like a crack at the captaincy?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ The first part‑‑ I missed the first part.テつ Were you asking about any changes?

Q.テつ In terms of the wild card and qualification standings; will those just stay the same.
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I would imagine they would stay the same, wouldn't you.テつ I think as successful as the team has been, I wouldn't foresee any reason why we would want to change them, because the system that we have in place is obviously a very successful one, so I think it would be foolish of me to ask for any changes.
In terms of Ryder Cup and being part of it, did I ever see myself being a captain, I don't know, maybe because The Ryder Cup has been so special to me and so much part of my golfing career, it's something that I've always really enjoyed.テつ To be captain is obviously a huge honour to be bestowed upon me.
Maybe in a couple days' time when everything sinks in and I get more familiar with what's required of me, then I'll be probably maybe a little bit better qualified to answer your question.

Q.テつ Just wondering, obviously Tiger Woods has been in the news a little bit lately.テつ I assume you'd love to see him at Hazeltine?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Oh, I think everybody would, wouldn't they.テつ Tiger is still one of the biggest draws in the game of golf.テつ He's a very special talent.テつ And I, for one, being not only a friend of his, but I have a huge amount of respect for his golf game, would love to see him getting back to playing the sort of golf that he can play.
I think Tiger Woods on the team at Hazeltine would be a stronger team with him being on it.テつ You know, you want to go and compete against the strongest team possible, and a healthy Tiger Woods playing his best golf would certainly add to the whole event.

Q.テつ Just wondering, have you had an opportunity to sit down with Paul since Gleneagles, and how important would it be to work closely with him and other captains in view that you're perhaps conceding an advantage to Davis or Fred Couples?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Well, obviously, it would be hugely important for me to rely on previous captains and to try and take their advice.
Regarding sitting down with Paul, no, I wouldn't ‑‑ I haven't sat down with Paul yet because there's no‑‑ I didn't want to appear as if I was affecting anything to do with the outcome.テつ It was a totally impartial thing.テつ I didn't speak to any of the guys on the committee, so that was not something that I wanted to do.
Moving forward, then yes, I do plan to sit down with a lot of the captains, obviously especially Paul because he was so successful the last time at Gleneagles.

Q.テつ Is it a big advantage, being captain before?
DARREN CLARKE: テつIs it a big advantage?テつ I don't know, I couldn't tell you.テつ I will find out.テつ I will glean as much information as I can and do the best job I can.

Q.テつ I suppose it's a good sign the only previous captains who didn't have experience were Woosnam and Langer.
DARREN CLARKE:テつ They both did okay, Karl, didn't they.

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