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September 29, 2016

Darren Clarke

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

JOHN DEVER: Welcome back to the 41st Ryder Cup, ladies and gentlemen. Pleased to be joined by European captain Darren Clarke.

Captain, it's been 15, 20 minutes. Do you have any overarching impressions or surprises as you glance at the pairings we have?

DARREN CLARKE: No. You know, Davis had the same amount of talent at his disposal as I have at mine. It's always a balancing act between which guys you put out in which groups. You know, there's always a little bit of trying to keep guys fresh and trying to get the balance right.

So you know, I'm very happy with our team and the way the matches have come out.

Q. Until our last 24 hours possibly, most of us would have expected to seen Danny play first, especially as he was practicing with Lee. Was that a last-minute change of heart?
DARREN CLARKE: No. You know, it's a little bit of cat-and-mouse whenever you put pairings out together in practice rounds this week. I'm sure Davis could probably tell you who played with who from my team and I could probably tell you who played for him on his team. There's always a little bit of stuff going on.

I've had a few different -- I haven't had one set of pairings, one group of pairings firmly fixed in my mind. There's always been a few different plans and different options. And certainly with regard to Danny, he will be playing tomorrow afternoon. I probably shouldn't tell Davis that, but he will be playing tomorrow afternoon, and he will be rested come Sunday for the singles.

Q. Why did you put Lee Westwood with Thomas Pieters; is there any reason?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, Lee Westwood is playing in his 10th Ryder Cup, so he's a very experienced Ryder Cup player. He's also a very, very good player. And Thomas Pieters, this is his first Ryder Cup. So to balance the experience with one of the rookies is something that's very important.

Obviously I know Lee's game very, very well, because he's been a great partner to me in many Ryder Cups. And Thomas Pieters is a very, very talented young man. So the pair of them, Thomas Pieters was one of my picks and to get him out with the most seasoned veteran on our team seemed like a bit of a natural pairing for me.

Q. Are you at all concerned about Danny's state of mind going into the match tomorrow?
DARREN CLARKE: No. Danny, when I explained to the guys, tell the guys who are not playing tomorrow morning, they are all playing well and they are all disappointed they are not playing but there's a reason behind it.

I have a plan what I'm going to try and execute this week, and you know, Danny is fine. Danny is ready to go. He wants to play. He's like all the guys; he's disappointed he's not playing in the morning, and he understands what I'm trying to do is for the team. There is no individual in our 12. It's about the team.

Q. What about Andy Sullivan who is a rookie going straight out, what's he shown this week?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, Sully's played lovely. I think as you guys know from obviously our side of the world, Rory, both Rory and Sully have expressed their interest and desire to play with each other this week. And with the form that Rory is currently in, and Sully playing very nicely, it would be foolish of me not to give them the opportunity.

Q. The decision to lead with Henrik and Justin, is it just a show of strength from the European side?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, well, Justin and Henrik are a very proven, successful Ryder Cup pairing. Both very strong players. Got the Olympic Champion and the Open Champion. To lead off, they were always going to be my choice for leading Europe off in this match. That was never, never in doubt.

As I say, I'm very pleased to have them leading our attempt to retain The Ryder Cup. They are the guys going out first to try and start that off.

Q. How long have you had these pairings in mind? Is this something you new quite a while ago or did you make some adjustments this week?
DARREN CLARKE: As I said earlier in the week, I think pairings this week have to be fluid. I think Davis will tell you the same thing. And I think I said it the other day, didn't I; that with all the previous captains I've spoken to, they have had the ideas of pairings and who is going to play with who. And that sometimes changes. It rarely goes exactly as you think.

You may have your pairings, but you also have a few different ones in the back of your mind, as well. And that's preparation. And I have been prepared for a few different scenarios with a few different pairings.

None of these pairings are thrown together at the last moment, should we say. This has always been part of what I've been thinking.

Q. Just to clarify, you said Danny would play in the afternoon and then he won't play until Sunday?
DARREN CLARKE: No, no, I said Danny will play tomorrow afternoon and he may well play four times, and his last match could be -- will be Sunday singles.

So obviously instead of playing five times, he will be one match fresher and be able to play his fourth match would be the singles. That's what I meant by it. Sorry if you misinterpreted that.

Q. And how much did you take into account what the opposition might do in setting your own order of battle today?
DARREN CLARKE: Absolutely zero. There is no point in me trying to second guess what Davis is going to do. Davis is going to do what he thinks is best, and I'm going to try and do what I think is best.

If you go down that road of trying to guess where Davis is going to put certain pairing, it's a never-ending story. The one thing I would have said, if somebody would have asked me, I could have almost given you the first match whenever we arrived here or before we got here. I would have had a good guess; Davis probably would have had a good guess, and I think we would have both come up with the same conclusion.

But after that, I'm just trying to do what I feel, with the help of the vice captains, is best from the European point of view.

Q. Would you mind giving us a little dress rehearsal of what you will say to the team tonight?
DARREN CLARKE: Absolutely not (laughs). The team, they are in really, really great form. They are all very relaxed and very happy. I'll speak to them this evening. The guys that are not playing the morning, they have to be prepared to go and play tomorrow afternoon if need be. Some of them may play, they all may play, we shall see.

But the whole thing about our team is they will do whatever they need to do for the team, and that is the way that we work in Europe. You know, it not a case of having to inspire the guys, to build the guys up. They are ready to go out and play.

Q. In a perfect world would it be important for all of your rookies to have played come Saturday, and what factors would you look at in deciding that?
DARREN CLARKE: In a perfect world, do you mean all rookies have played before the singles? They will have played before the singles. By the end of tomorrow, no; that may happen; it may not happen. But everybody will play before the singles. Whatever order that is going to take, we shall see. But again, that is coming back to the situation where the scoring and how the match is going will dictate what way we think.

We have, as I'm sure Davis has, he has plans for if they are two points ahead, three points ahead, we are three points ahead, whatever. You have to have ideas there that you can put into action if need be.

So in terms of playing everybody tomorrow, in an ideal world, is that what I would like to do; is that what Davis would like to do? I think if truth be told, we would say yes. That may happen; it may not happen. It all depends on how the match is progressing.

Q. I noticed Pete Cowen was obviously out watching Danny fairly closely this morning. How would you describe Danny's actual golf at the moment?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, Danny's playing great. Danny's playing fine. Pete was out there because he has so many players on the team, a la, Phil Kenyon. He's got so many guys. He wasn't just looking at Danny. He was looking at all his guys.

Danny's playing fine. I have no worries about Danny whatsoever, mentally or otherwise. His golf game's good. He's ready to go play. Obviously the incident that has happened has created a bit of a furor, but Danny himself is the Masters Champion. He's a great golfer, and he's ready to play and do what he needs to do for Europe, and he will do that.

JOHN DEVER: Let's leave it at that. Congratulations on that and your fine speech, and enjoy your evening.

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