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May 18, 2005

Darren Clarke


GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much for your attendance this afternoon for Darren's press conference about the tournament, but other matters first. We're going to discuss Darren's involvement in Castle Dargan Golf Course, and I'll introduce the top table at the moment. We have on the far left, Dermot Fallon, who is the managing director of Castle Dargan, and next to Dermot is Patrick Merrigan, who has worked with this project with Darren and we have Darren himself.

Without any further ado, you may tell us how you got involved in this special project.

DARREN CLARKE: Well, I have projects around the world and the opportunity came up to work in Castle Dargan. I have many good memories from being up in the countryside in Rosses Point. I know all of the places, the good places to go in Rosses Point, unfortunately but I've had a great time there. It's not too far away.

The golf course, again, the terrain is very good as Patrick will tell you. I'm very excited about it. It's a busy time for me with my course design and I'm delighted to be involved with one as good as Castle Dargan.

Q. What are some of the trademarks of your design?

DARREN CLARKE: What are the trademarks? Probably a very exciting finish with short holes towards the end, and always trying to finish with the par 5s and to give a lot of opportunities for tournaments as you're coming down for things to change. Try to make the courses playable for every type of player, for people who have just started the game to people like ourselves and make it interesting for them and fun at the same time.

GORDON SIMPSON: Patrick, you might want to say a few words about your involvement.

PATRICK MERRIGAN: Thank you, gentlemen. I met Mr. Fallon about three years ago, or a bit more, and he brought me up to see this very interesting site in Sligo. I think what Sligo needed. It has a fantastic links for a course but when I saw the site, the site, it's got a lot of movement. It's actually got land. So the whole area will be beautiful. It's fantastic, the Sligo landscape. I got very excited about this course, it's about 168 acres and Darren and I, what we regard as a championship standard golf course that would appeal to every type of player. Very unusually, the course has five par 3s and five par 5s because that's what fits. It's about 7,000 yards. The average tees appeal to every type of player. The main features of the course, the holes are all individual holes. There's no two holes that look alike. The first hole is a beautiful hole, the short par 3 downhill and measures 130 yards, an absolutely stunning hole. I think this is a fantastic hole. We have another par 3 at other extreme of the course, and it's a bit longer and also a downhiller.

I think this course will offer a great variety of challenge. Drainage is so important, because the golf course must function. There is no point in having a golf course if you can't play it, so we are putting a lot of emphasis on strategy.

GORDON SIMPSON: Dermot from the developer's perspective, if you would?

DERMOT FALLON: Back in 1999, with Patrick's influence, Sligo was not immune to the economic growth that was occurring throughout the country and we didn't have a good parkland golf course to offer to compliment the fine links courses that we have. I think in '99 or 2000, I convinced Patrick and Darren to look at the site and they have come up with a very exciting design. I think it's got to be unique development. We also have residential development and hotel development on site which is ongoing and the site itself also has a lot of history attached involving William Butler Yeats. It was written about of time and heart, so we'll try and put the poetry in motion. Our residential element is 90 percent done at the moment but there are some units that we have yet we hope to be up and running somewhere in next year.

GORDON SIMPSON: Before we move on to the Nissan Irish Open, if you have any questions on this particular development, we'll address them right now.

Q. How many units?

DERMOT FALLON: We have 49 total.

Q. How many courses are you involved in?

DARREN CLARKE: I think five, six, something like that I'm not sure. Did you enjoy it as much as I did, is that what you're trying to tell me?

Q. Do you try to build a course for everyone to play or mainly for the pros?

DARREN CLARKE: The way that I tried to do it is that I wanted to make the courses that I'm involved with and doing playable for everybody and make it more difficult through tee positions. So if you want to play and go out and enjoy your round of golf, you play off the more forward tee. If you want to go out and have a more sterner test, then you go off the back tee.

But I think the design of the holes will be predominately be from where the tee positions are. So it will give every level of player an opportunity to play the golf course and enjoy the golf course and no matter what weather conditions you have, you're still able to go out there and have fun. It's very, very tough when you go out and play a golf course in that sort of wind when every hole is demanding. I certainly want to give the amateur players an enjoyable time out whenever they go out and play one of my golf courses. That's what I want to do; yet make it a stern test for the pros whenever they are there as well. That's what I want to do, try to do.

Q. Do you think amateurs out there today ever got out of the bunkers?

DARREN CLARKE: Eventually. Demanding, very demanding. When I make bunkers, they are not going to be as deep at Castle Dargan, that's for sure.

Q. Are there any pointers you could take from this course to yours?

DARREN CLARKE: Are there any pointers? Course condition is fantastic.

Q. Will the scoring be high?

DARREN CLARKE: I would imagine. I think the course is very good. It's just stunningly difficult for all level of play I would imagine. It is very, very tough. Hopefully all courses are going to play tough when you have conditions like this. It doesn't make any difference what course you play. This one is very difficult and demanding in certain areas and probably more than in certain areas.

Probably going to endeavor to make sure that Castle Dargan, there's ample opportunities where you can miss it on the right side and still have a shot. This course is very penal wherever you miss it. You're going to struggle to get up and down maybe not struggle. Struggle is too strong a word but you've certainly got your work cut out.

Q. Inaudible

DARREN CLARKE: I think Monty wanted to set up a links course on an inland setting and I think he has been successful in what he has created. If you go and play all of the great links courses around the world, there's always one or two holes which are almost let up holes. You don't need 18 tough, tough holes to make a great, great golf course. Every course in the world you can have a little breather here, that's not too bad, and that's what we'll do at Castle Dargan. You'll have tough holes and ones that you can have a go at and attack if you want to. But here because where the wind was coming from today, there was no let up holes. Every hole was very, very, very demanding. It was like a really tough links golf course, like not a Carnoustie, that was deathly brutal whenever we played the Open there, but it was very, very difficult out there today. To compare it to there's no real course that comes into mind, but a links golf course on a tough day but the links courses always have a couple of easy holes, whereas this one definitely doesn't.

Q. The cut was seven over par last week. Will it be higher this week?

DARREN CLARKE: I think it could and I think it will be. It depends what the weather does but in these sort of conditions, I would imagine it would be a few shots more at least.

Q. Are we at the point now where courses are being built that are scarcely playable for the average golfer�

DARREN CLARKE: Don't have a go at me, Charlie. I didn't design it. Don't blame me just because you shot 103 (laughter) yeah, exactly. You see, you just think we have it too easy week in, week out so it's nice for you to actually go out and play a course and see what we have to go to work to every day, Charlie. It's not easy, is it? It's tough. It's tough. That's a very, very tough golf course.

And yet I get your point. Are we building them for professionals or are we building them for amateurs? Well, this one in particular is very tough. There's no other way of putting it. You know, of course you want to make it possible for all amateurs to go out and have a good day from all handicap ranges. That was probably as tough a day as you've had on the golf course in a long time, and it's the same for us the next four days because the forecast is not getting any better. So, yeah, this one is in particular have very tough.

Q. Is this a good course to warm up for next week at Wentworth?

DARREN CLARKE: It will be different. It's obviously different because it's more exposed. There's no shelter out there. This week is going to a grind over every shot. As I said, you're forced into hitting shots off the tees where you have to hit driver because the holes are too long, 460, 470, you can't hit 3 woods and there's bunkers all over the place. If you miss one you're probably going to catch another one. With the wind as strong as it is, it's very tough to be consistent shaping the golf ball. When you do hit in the fairway, you've got the same problem going into the greens again because the greens are very severe and if you miss those, you have no chance ever getting it up and down. So it's almost like every shot is going to be precious this week. You've got to be very switched on and you have to be very careful with your yardages and very careful with what's going on; whereas next week, you can have a go at a couple of holes. If you have a go at a couple of these out, here you're going to walk off with doubles or worse. You can't really do it.

Q. What do you think the winning score will be?

DARREN CLARKE: Not very much under par. Not very much.

Q. How do you feel after your play last week?

DARREN CLARKE: Sunday I played well and some days I made a couple of mistakes as I told you afterwards. Actually one of them wasn't a mistake, 16 wasn't, it just flew too far, but yeah, I played okay on Sunday. I had an opportunity and, you know, unfortunately one of those things, in the middle of the fairway I obviously hit it too hard and paid the penalty for it.

Q. Do you feel better about your form?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, it's getting there, I had another Top 10 finish again, so it's not too bad. Not quite where I want it to be, but I'll keep on working until I get it there.

Q. Will this week test your mental game?

DARREN CLARKE: I think this week is going to test everybody's mental game. There's so many, you can hit a lot of good shots off the tee, from the fairway, around the greens that are not necessarily going to get rewarded and that's going to really test everybody, with the wind blowing as well it's going to make it even harder. So I think it's just try to do the most you can. There's going to be some high scores this week.

Q. Will it perversely make it easier knowing that it�s so tough and your expectations aren�t so high?

DARREN CLARKE: I know how I expect myself to perform but as for the rest of them, yeah, it doesn't make it any easier. I know it's going to be a long week, difficult week.

As I said, I think the course is good, it's just very, very, very tough.

Q. Unfair?

DARREN CLARKE: No, I just think it's very, very tough.

Q. Will it drive to you drink?

DARREN CLARKE: Will it drive me to drink? Doesn't take a tough golf course to do that.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thanks very much, Darren, Patrick and Dermot.

End of FastScripts.

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