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May 26, 2015

Darren Clarke


SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ Thank you very much for joining us, Darren.テつ Welcome to The Irish Open.テつ I know iron delighted to be back in Northern Ireland.テつ Just give us your thoughts on being back here this week.
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Obviously it's very special to be back playing The Irish Open here in Northern Ireland.テつ We're again on one of the best courses in the world.テつ I played this morning.テつ The course is playing very fast.テつ It's going to be a really, really tough challenge this week.テつ It's a slightly different challenge in that you've got quite a few blind shots but again that's part of what makes Royal County Down so special.
But some of the shots you're going to have to land 30 yards short of the green to keep it on the greens.テつ But overall, the course is in sensational shape and it's going to be a very, very tough week this week.テつ If we get some weather that's forecast, you don't need much of a breeze around Royal County Down to present the challenge that it can do.テつ I think it's going to be a very interesting week.テつ I think the guys are all going to love it.
Obviously it's great to be back here with Rory as host.テつ You can't speak highly enough of what he's done, what he's achieved but also what he's trying to do off the golf course with his foundation.テつ For a man so young to be giving so much back again speaks volumes about him.テつ He's taken his position as world No. 1, and he's embraced it.
To be able to do what he's doing off the golf course says an awful lot about him.テつ It's great for all of us that are here to support him.テつ I think if you take a look at the field this week, that is a reflection of how high Rory is held by his peers.テつ It's going to be a fantastic week of golf and the winner is going to have to play some seriously good golf come Sunday.

Q.テつ It's your 24th Irish Open‑‑
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Watson told me it's my 25th.テつ Keep knocking them all off, that's fine, I'm quite happy.

Q.テつ Is this as strong a field as you've played in in The Irish Open?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I think it is, I really do.テつ Rory's pushed a lot of the guys to come and play and I think it's fitting for a golf course as good as this, as world‑class as this, that we have the field that's here.テつ They are all, no matter how good they are, they are all going to have a challenge this week.テつ I think to see the tournament go from strength‑to‑strength is obviously hugely positive for The Irish Open and the fact that it's here at home in Northern Ireland, as well.

Q.テつ Do you look at it as a major, or your home Open, and you want to win here?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I'll take any more majors, won't make any difference what they are.テつ You can see how special it is for Rory with him hosting the event, and it is one that I've always aspired to play really, really well in.
Unfortunately more Irish Opens than I can count, I've been first off on the Saturday morning, which that I was not on the business end of the tournament.テつ Hopefully this will be a little bit different.

Q.テつ You've had good form, you equalled your lowest round around Wentworth the last day.テつ You must be feeling really confident?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I played well last week, just made some silly mistakes.テつ In terms of my ball striking it was really, really good again.テつ Hopefully I can bring that with me this week and just kick on from Sunday.

Q.テつ Just wondering, I expect you hope for a home win this week, but do the local players, do you have more pressure on you to perform than, say, the visiting golfers?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I don't know if we have more pressure on us or not.テつ We obviously all want to play well in The Irish Open.テつ Everybody from Ireland wants to play well in The Irish Open, and you know, it's one that we all desperately want to win.テつ It's a big event with all the players that are here, the World Ranking points available are huge because of the field that we have assembled here this week.
The golf course doesn't know whether you're a home or local player or not.テつ But I think a little bit of local knowledge and a little bit of knowledge of playing links golf, a lot of knowledge of playing links golf is going to be important this week.

Q.テつ Just switching to Ryder Cup, I know you've been talking about it outside, but in terms of the qualifying process, that's all been settled.テつ Can you elaborate on whether there was much thought given to changing the qualification format or was it a fairly straightforward decision?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ No, I did give it a lot of thought.テつ I looked at a lot of stats and comparisons from what teams would have been had the system been slightly different in past teams.テつ But my overall feeling was that with the team that Paul had assembled at Gleneagles, I think it would have been‑‑ and how successful they were, it would have been very foolish of me to try to make any changes to that system.
Overall, I'm absolutely delighted that we have the same qualifying system and hopefully that will enable us to have is the strongest possible European Team going to Hazeltine because we are going to need it.

Q.テつ And how important was it to keep the qualification order, the two categories, the same?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ There's reasons why it is what it is, and as I just said there, hopefully that will give us the best possible chance of having the strongest possible European Team going to Hazeltine.
SCOTT CROCKETT:テつ And points will start in Russia, as well.
DARREN CLARKE:テつ Yes, they are going to start from September 3 to 6 in the Russian Open, and as we've just touched on there, the qualification system is going to stay the same.テつ They were two things which were clarified last week at Wentworth and I'm delighted it's going to start in Russia and indeed that we are keeping the qualification the same.テつ The Tour can't possibly do any more for me and help me in the way that they are thus far and that's the way it's going to continue.テつ I'm delighted on both of those points.

Q.テつ First Irish Open here since '39, how do you think the modern game will do against this golf course?テつ And as a kid did you play here much?テつ Do you have any stories?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ How do I think the course is going to stack up against modern technology?テつ I think it's going to stack up very well.テつ I think this golf course is a lot more about keeping the ball on the ground, as most links golf courses are.テつ Modern technology, the way you see all the young kids playing nowadays, there's more through the air, bombing it, hitting it a long way and stuff.
This golf course I think requires a little bit more guile and patience than what most courses do.テつ It's still a sensational test, irrelevant of technology, how far it's moved on.テつ It's draws, fades, hold it against the wind, use the ground; that's what it's going to be.
In terms of me coming down, I've hardly played Royal County Down.テつ I've played very little golf here.テつ I went out and played this morning with Gavin Moynihan, one of the premiere Irish amateurs.テつ He nearly knew the course better than I do.テつ I haven't played here for ten years, at least ten years I think, and I couldn't remember a lot of the holes.
So it was quite a challenge for me, took quite a few long irons off the tees and hopefully it won't do that for the rest of the week.テつ But the golf course, it's a proper test.テつ It's a real, real proper test.テつ It's not a coincidence that it's so far and so high up on the list of golf courses in the world.テつ This is a proper golf course.

Q.テつ With such a fantastic field assembled, what does this say for Northern Ireland?テつ What does it mean for Northern Ireland?
DARREN CLARKE:テつ I think it says a great deal that we are very fortunate to have the world No. 1 from here.テつ I touched on Rory in saying what I said there, and it's due to him‑‑ it's due to Rory; it's due to the fact that we are playing on one of the best golf courses in the world.テつ The field that we have are here this week.
You know, Rory has obviously promoted the tournament strongly, which is all credit to him.テつ And we are going to have a feast of golf for some of the best players in the world that a lot of people from here maybe wouldn't have the chance to see.テつ The fact that the tournament is sold out, you know, it's a wonderful time.テつ We love playing in front of big crowds.テつ We get an atmosphere and this week is going to be just absolutely brilliant.

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