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April 14, 2005

Darren Clarke


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Okay, Darren, thanks for joining us today, a nice 6-under 65 to start the first round of the 2005 MCI Heritage. It's your low round at Harbour Town and your low round of the '04 PGA TOUR season. You had 66 in the second round of the 2004 event here.

Just talk about your round and then take us through it hole by hole.

DARREN CLARKE: I played pretty well today. I drove it very well and I don't think I missed a fairway today. If you do that around Harbour Town, you're going to give yourself some chances. I was obviously hitting my irons pretty well, as well. All in all, I just had a very solid day and gave myself lots of chances and took most of them and made more than I missed obviously.

No. 2, I hit driver, 5-iron to 35 feet, two-putt for birdie.

No. 3, hit driver, 8-iron to about 25 feet, holed it for birdie.

No. 5, hit driver, 3-wood just short of the green, pitched it up to about eight feet, holed it for birdie.

No. 7, I hit 6-iron, just the right edge of the green, kicked right off the green, chipped it in from about 40 feet.

No. 9, I hit 3-iron, just pushed it a little bit on the right, just in the pine needles, but the shot was okay. I hit a 9-iron to about three feet and holed it for birdie.

No. 12, I hit driver, I hit wedge to about eight feet, holed it for birdie.

No. 13, I hit 5-wood off the tee, hit wedge to about six feet, holed it for birdie.

No. 14, I tried to hit 5-iron, just left of the green and flushed it, hit it far too solid and ended up with no shot. I was off the green to the left, had to come over the bunker going downgreen with the water on the other side, so I decided to chip it just onto the middle of the green, give myself a 15-footer, missed it, bogey.

15, I hit driver, 6-iron, pitching wedge to about eight feet again, holed it.

16, hit a good drive, got too aggressive with my second shot with 9-iron, just pulled it a little bit, kicked left down into the little swale, didn't have too much green to work with, left it about eight feet short and missed it.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Two routine pars at the end.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I'll take two routine pars like that all week. That would be pretty good.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Any thoughts about a change in the weather today? Pretty cool and didn't seem to warm up from earlier in the week.

DARREN CLARKE: It didn't warm up at all. It was really cold. It was more like a day at home than it was here at Harbour Town. It was very cold. The ball wasn't going quite the distance that it should have done, but we managed pretty well.

Q. How good is a round like that on a day like today? I mean, there's really nobody approaching your number this morning?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, it's pretty good. I've been playing sort of okay for most of the year but everything hasn't quite come together like it did today. So I felt as if I'm capable of putting the scores together, so it was nice to go out there on specially a difficult day like this and control the ball as well as I did and shoot a good number.

Q. You're talking about the consistency, and I know you talked about this earlier in Jacksonville; is it the consistency you're looking for within your round from shot to shot or from day-to-day where you'll put up a low number?

DARREN CLARKE: Day-to-day. I started swinging really well Sunday of Augusta, Sunday of last week. Obviously it was far too late at that stage (laughter), but I felt as if I found something that was starting to work, and I just brought it on this week. It feels pretty good at the moment. I hope I can keep on doing it.

Q. What goes through your head when you're five shots up, 13 holes into a tournament?

DARREN CLARKE: Get as many more as I possibly can. I wasn't paying any attention to any leaderboard whatsoever. It's tough enough out there amongst the trees trying to get the right clubs and get on the right side of the fairways that you need to score well out here, so I wasn't really paying any attention, I just wanted to play, try and make as many birdies as I could.

Q. You've played this event three straight years. Why did you start adding it to your schedule; what do you like about the course here?

DARREN CLARKE: I think the course is fantastic, I really do. This is one of my favorite venues on the PGA TOUR. I really look forward to coming back here. It's one of the first events that I will put in my schedule aside from the majors and the World Golf Championship events playing on the PGA TOUR. I really enjoy the golf course. I think it's a great test, a very, very fair test. You play well, you get rewarded. If you don't, you're punished. That sounds very obvious, but that's the sign of a great golf course.

Q. The field is down just a little bit this year. Have you heard any talk in the locker room about why that is?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really. If you take a look at the run that we've had with bad weather and tournament and tournament after tournament, that's going to take its toll on guys. Obviously we can't play every week, but weeks going into Mondays, two of them just previous to Augusta, and then Augusta again, you're trying to make up holes again. You've got to take a rest, take a break at some stage.

The guys obviously just wanted to have a rest. I'm sure they'll be back again. The tournament is too good a tournament to keep on missing.

Q. If you could just go into your thoughts on the PGA TOUR as opposed to the European Tour and where you want to play more and just how that's changed over the last few years and will change in the next couple.

DARREN CLARKE: I've played probably 17, 18 tournaments over here this year on the PGA TOUR, and I've played probably 15, 16 in Europe, something like that. Because I can play both tours it's easier to keep my numbers up. I made the decision after NEC to take up my membership. I had the opportunity in 2000 when I won the match play against Tiger and decided not to take it up then, but when I won the NEC I thought if you want to improve and get better, I've got to play on the PGA TOUR. I've got to play more frequently against the best players in the world, and that's why I've chosen to play more over here. I really enjoy playing the PGA TOUR. It's a fantastic tour to play on.

Q. Do you have a permanent home here or do you plan on making one?

DARREN CLARKE: At the moment I'm going back and forth. My wife and our two kids, two young boys, are still in London, and we haven't really decided to up sticks and move over here. Because I've still got a commitment to Europe, I've got to play over there, as well. So at the moment London is a pretty good place for us to live.

Q. Given the weather conditions out there today, what was par at Harbour Town?

DARREN CLARKE: I'm probably the wrong person to ask that (laughter). I was the lucky one today. I don't know, I'd have been pretty pleased with -- walking off with 1-under today. I think 1-under is a really good score today. 1-under par I think is a very good round of golf because it's tough out there.

Q. Could you be more specific about the conditions? The wind, was it all one direction, moving around?

DARREN CLARKE: It was pretty consistent, but whenever it's that cold the ball doesn't fly like it normally does, so you've got to take that into consideration. For me it was pretty good because I kept knocking the ball down, taking it out of the air. Anything getting up above the trees was obviously going to be affected by the wind. I made a conscious effort of trying to keep it low, taking an extra club and just chip it in there a few times. That seemed to work okay for me. It was tough to keep on picking the right clubs out there.

Q. On 16 through 18, is the wind any different today than it normally is and did it make the holes play a lot harder?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, yes, yes, yes. 16, the difficulty in 16 is more in the second shot. It has been playing -- every time I've played here it's been down off the left for a second shot, but today it's off the right. With the flag cut back left the flag is pretty tough to get close to.

17 was a 7-iron. The wind was almost helping, so that was probably a little bit easier than what it normally does. But 18 was driver, 3-iron, and that's an awful lot more difficult than it usually is. Usually it's a really good 3-wood and probably 7-iron, 8-iron, something like that. That's not the sort of hole you'd want to play every day hitting driver, 3-iron into that green. Yeah, I'd say they were tougher today than what they normally are.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: All right, Darren, thanks very much.

End of FastScripts.

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