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September 27, 2016

Darren Clarke

Minneapolis, Minnesota

JOHN DEVER: Welcome back to the 41st Ryder Cup. Like to welcome and thank European captain Darren Clarke for joining us.

Darren, you brought The Ryder Cup to Minnesota yesterday, so may I ask, what was on the docket for Team Europe last night? Was there a dinner together, or how was your first night together?

DARREN CLARKE: We just had a very relaxed evening. We had everybody from Team Europe, and that being the physios, the backroom staff, the coaches, everybody was in our team room last night for maybe 30, 45 minutes and then we all had a little bit of a chat to everybody, a little bit of conversation and addressed everybody and welcomed them all here.

Then everybody went their own way, as we had a very relaxed evening. Some of the guys were jet-lagged, obviously the ones that come from overseas, they were a little tired and went off to bed. So a very quiet, relaxing evening.

JOHN DEVER: So this morning, you're starting out on the course for the first time, you had four matches going on. Perhaps you could talk about each one and maybe why you paired the four players together.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, well, if you take a look at it, there's two seasoned guys with two veterans in each of the three matches. There was no real particular reason for who went with who, because today the guys were just hitting their own balls, just getting out to see the golf course. Some of them have played before and some of them haven't. So it was just a case of letting them see the golf course and see their thoughts. Obviously we'll discuss it all later on and see what they think.

Q. The question I should have probably asked you yesterday instead: Is Paul O'Connell addressing the team tonight?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, he is.

Q. And if so, why, what's the thinking behind that?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, part of my whole thought process for this week is shoulder to shoulder, one team, one unit, and as you know, shoulder to shoulder with the rugby background that I have, as well, it resonated with me. It was something that I pursued through my captaincy.

There's no finer an example of shoulder to shoulder than Paul O'Connell. He has legendary status both at home and in terms of leading the British Lions who obviously always play away from home. So with us being away from home, he was my option and choice to come and address the team this evening. I'm very excited to hear what he has to say and the way that he's going to put his thoughts across.

Q. Coming into today and after last night, is this what you thought it would be like to be captain early on? Do you have any trepidations, do you have any concerns, or is this what you thought it would be?
DARREN CLARKE: This is what I thought it would be, but better, Alex, to be honest. It's great to be in the position where I'm addressing maybe 80,90 people in the room last night, in our team room, and every one of them there part of Team Europe, was very special.

The whole buildup just over a year and a half since I was given the honor of being captain, everything has been geared towards this week, and now we're here to see all our artwork, to see everything that everybody has pulled together and worked on all coming together has been wonderful.

Thus far, it's been much better than I thought it was going to be. I'm really enjoying it. I know that's easy to say at this stage of the week. It's very early in the week, but certainly I'm very excited and looking forward to the rest of the week.

Q. Back to Paul O'Connell, when did you first meet him, and what was his reaction and where were you when you asked him to speak to the team?
DARREN CLARKE: I haven't actually met Paul yet. I've spoken to him, but I haven't actually met him yet. I've gone to watch him many times playing for Ireland, but I'm going to meet him now in probably 15, 20 minutes. But we have spoken at length about what my whole thought process was, about my thinking for the team, and a lot of my imagery is connected with shoulder to shoulder, and Paul is aware of that. He's seen that. He's more than keen to get there and address the guys tonight.

From everybody that I've spoken to who have heard Paul address teams, he is seriously inspirational. So I feel very fortunate and privileged that he's there to join us.

Q. Is the course setup what you expected it to be? Has Davis tricked it up at all?
DARREN CLARKE: Not at all. It's exactly what I would have expected Davis to do. It's playing very fair. The course is playing very long. With that breeze out there this morning, with it being a cold breeze, as well, the course is playing exceptionally long. The greens are fast, holding at the moment. I think the course is set up for scoring. It's set up for entertainment, to make birdies and to have the whole excitement of The Ryder Cup be the way that it should be.

Q. Have the Spanish and the Belgians on the team ever heard of Paul O'Connell?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, they have, because they have been made aware of a few things. I'm not that foolish, but thank you for asking (laughing).

Q. There's been a lot of attention about Davis's comments about the strength of team, Johnny Miller's comments about the supposed weakness of your team, do you use that as a motivating factor?
DARREN CLARKE: I don't need to. The guys have all seen everything that's been said. But in terms of that, we have the Masters Champion, we have The Open Champion, we have the Olympic Champion and we have the FedEx Champion. You combine that with all the experience and with all of the rest of the team and the way those guys have played, I don't really need to respond to that. I think I've got full confidence in our team.

JOHN DEVER: I'll ask a question, Darren. As your groups were out on the course this morning, were you and your vice captains out there and walking with them, or do you give them the space they need to prepare? What's your management style there?

DARREN CLARKE: No, all the vice captains are out there. They are walking around. They are watching to see how the guys are -- how they are feeling, how comfortable they are. Obviously if they need anything, whatever they need, should it be an extra club if the course is playing differently; if they need food, whatever they need, the vice captains are out there to tend to whatever needs they have.

Obviously they are there watching. Again, for the vice captains, some of them haven't been here, haven't played here before, so they are seeing the golf course, as well, for the first time. They are out there fulfilling a role as my vice captains but also looking after the players, as well.

Q. According to most odds in Vegas and over in the U.K., as well, the Europeans are not favored to win this Ryder Cup. What do you do with that? Do you do anything with it with your team? Can it be something that can be beneficial down the road?
DARREN CLARKE: We are always the underdogs, Alex, aren't we? We're always not supposed to win. But they have been doing okay. So you know, the guys are all here and they are very excited and keen to play, Alex.

The odds frequently are against Europe, and so it's nothing different. So I'm certainly not worried about it and I'm just looking forward to the whole thing kicking off and starting on Friday morning.

Q. If you were to win the fourth in a row, do you think the United States should add México and Canada as possible --
DARREN CLARKE: (Laughing). Let's just see how this week works out first. I think there's been a lot made of the task force. As I've said before, I think it's wonderful what they have done to try to come up with a winning formula, because it means they care so much about it.

From The Ryder Cup's point of view, it's very, very important, and I think we're in for another closely-fought match this week again. But certainly I can speak on behalf of the Europeans; they are keen and we are doing whatever we can to obviously try and bring that trophy back home with us again.

JOHN DEVER: That looks like that's it for this afternoon. Darren, thanks for your time and we will see you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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