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March 3, 2004

Darren Clarke


GORDON SIMPSON: Straight in from La Costa, and it was a good week but probably could have been a great week if things had gone better at the end.

DARREN CLARKE: Yes and no. I didn't play particularly well all week. I grinded out all week. It was disappointing to lose against with 2 up and two to play. But he hit two great shots and it was a very exciting game. I think he definitely deserved to win more than I did, and like I said, I would liked to have been up against Tiger myself on Sunday again.

Overall, I'm ready to lie back and go to sleep right now.

GORDON SIMPSON: Coming off the previous few weeks, a lot of signs of encouragement.

DARREN CLARKE: The previous weeks have been disappointing. I haven't swung anywhere close to the way I wanted to and play poured. Last week was, again, I didn't play overly well, but I managed to compete and compete very well.

GORDON SIMPSON: I suppose this is a tournament that maybe it's good time you got in contention here.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I like this golf course. I haven't quite figured out why I haven't done well here before, but hopefully this week with Tiger and Ernie here, I can give myself a chance.

Q. Where would you say your game is, if you could mark it out at this stage of the year out of ten?

DARREN CLARKE: Probably about a 6 1/2. It's not quite where I want it to be just yet, but I've been working very, very hard and hopefully some of the things that I'm trying to get will come in. Just keep getting better and keep getting better.

I think the most promising thing from last week is the more that I got under pressure, the better I managed to swing and the better I was. If I can do that down the stretch when I am under pressure, I think that's a good sign that things are coming back to the right way again.

Q. Has the fact that you have become the incredible shrinking man affected your swing, are you going to make a couple of small adjustments that are perhaps affecting consistency?

DARREN CLARKE: I think Butch would agree with that. But I don't really see any difference. My timing just has not been quite right and I've tried to work on a couple of things in Vegas when I was with Butch before I played Torrey Pines and they didn't quite work out. It's just a question of keep hitting balls and keep working on it. I'm sure my swing is a little bit different than it was before. I feel as if it's starting to come back now the right way again.

Q. Are you hitting the ball with that extra bit of beef?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, more or less, very, very similar.

Q. On the same subject, Colin in the middle of a season, dropped a lot of weight and found he was actually swinging fractionally faster and that affected his timing; and you talked about timing, has Butch got something or

DARREN CLARKE: I think if you ask any of the people who have gone through swing changes playing golf, most of them would say the same thing.

Mine has been over a longer period of time. I've been doing it through not starving myself for food, but exercising since last September. It should be easier because it's been over a much longer period of time. I'm certainly not going to stop playing golf and hopefully the golf swing will come back to where it needs to become.

Q. As a former smoker, are you still off the cigarettes?


Q. How do you manage it?

DARREN CLARKE: Quite easily.

Q. Is it patches?

DARREN CLARKE: The thing about that, I do have the occasional cigar now and again, but I have no interest in cigarettes, none at all, none, thankfully.

Q. Just going back to where you say your game is 6 and a 1/2 out of 10, are you still looking for perfection and how do you cope mentally?

DARREN CLARKE: I think one of the good things about last week is I knew I didn't have my game where I needed it to be, but I was able to grind out scores and grind out a result. That says a lot to me about how far I've come; that I can still manage to compete without having my game. I'm not sure I would have been able to do that a year ago, two years ago. I would have gotten more annoyed with not hitting shots that were as good as they should have been. The fact that I came in third in a World Golf Championships last week with not being on top of my game gives me a lot of positives.

Q. You said you weren't missing the cigarettes, does that suggest that you are missing something else like the Spirits?

DARREN CLARKE: White Spirit, it's a wonderful thing. (Laughing). I'm allowed the occasional White Spirit.

Q. Were you surprised or stunned at that third place in the World Golf Championships did nothing for your ranking?

DARREN CLARKE: Disappointed, yes. As I told you guys before I'm trying to move up the World Rankings and I was disappointed I didn't manage to move up, but I have closed the gap. A couple more decent performances in the next few weeks hopefully will move me up again.

Q. Is consistency the key to that? Ernie was talking about that; that you cannot do it in just one or two weeks?

DARREN CLARKE: No. You have to consistently play well. I missed three cuts in a row before that, so my averages are coming down because I had three tournaments and did not pick up any points. It was good to have another week to pick up more points, but I have to do that much more regularly, which I have been doing this past while.

Q. What's your schedule from here to the Masters now?

DARREN CLARKE: I go home for a couple of days Monday and Tuesday and then I go over to Orlando to Isleworth. I rented a house there for a month. I'll play Bay Hill, TPC, have a week off and then Augusta and then Hilton Head.

Q. Do you take the family with you?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, everybody is going.

GORDON SIMPSON: Is that the first time you've done this, basing yourself there with the kids?


Q. In a normal situation when Tiger comes to Dubai, everybody talks about him and Ernie Els; right now everybody is talking about him and you. How do you feel about being the favorite here?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know, I don't know. I think I've got to improve a little bit here to be a favorite here myself. I like the golf course. Any time that we have Tiger and Ernie in any European event is a huge boost for the event. Ernie is a full time member and he plays more than Tiger, but to have No. 1 and No. 3 in the world, it's great and we can all have more World Ranking points if I can get myself up there Sunday.

Q. A lot of the guys from the teams of the Ryder Cup are here: You and Harrington, Montgomerie, how do you feel that everybody is playing right now?

DARREN CLARKE: How do I think everybody is playing right now? Doesn't matter now. It's irrelevant. It matters how everybody is playing come September.

Q. Do you have anything together, the team?

DARREN CLARKE: No. Last time Sam Torrance brought us together a few times and we had a few meetings and whatever. If Bernhard's schedule permits him to, he will do the same thing, but that will be much later in the summer.

Q. Does Tiger know you're coming Isleworth and do you have anything fixed up?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I told him. He's busy, but I think we'll probably have a couple of games at the end of the week I hope. I've already told him I really wanted to play I said, you'll have to play a couple of games with me at Isleworth.

Q. Inaudible?

DARREN CLARKE: Possibly. It's a little bit early to think about having a house over there. Where we'll buy, I'll not quite sure yet, but probably in that area.

Q. You're not on the waiting list at Isleworth?

DARREN CLARKE: No, no, no. I'm a member. I'm a full member, golf member of Isleworth, but I don't own property yet, no.

GORDON SIMPSON: We'll see you during the week then. Thank you, Darren.

End of FastScripts.

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