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February 25, 2004

Darren Clarke


p> SCOTT CROCKETT: Darren, many thanks for coming in. A lot has been made of your fitness regime. That obviously includes playing 25 holes when everybody else plays 15. Tell us about your match today.

DARREN CLARKE: It was very long, as you just said, about 25 holes. I wanted to get off to a decent start. It never really came back until the last two holes. It was anybody's game. He had a couple chances early on, but unfortunately for him, he didn't make it. Either of us could have won.

Q. On 18 you had a magnificent chip there to take it into extra holes.

DARREN CLARKE: I hit two good shots to the front of the green. Eduardo missed the second shot to the green, and I was trying to chip up there as close as I could and hit it a little bit firm, but as soon as I hit it, it was tracking towards the hole. I think it was pretty fortunate that I managed to hit the flag.

Q. What club?

DARREN CLARKE: A little chip with a 9-iron.

Q. Tell us about the hole that it all ended on.

DARREN CLARKE: On the 7th, where I hit it down the middle of the fairway, and Eduardo hit it in the thickest and toughest rough on the course. I hit a 6-iron from 171 yards to about 25 feet onto the middle of the green, and he could only move it up to 40 yards short of the green, pitched it up to about 30 feet, and I cozied it up there beside the hole, and he missed from 30 feet.

Q. I guess the obvious question is the six or eight months of physical fitness, did that make a difference for you over those last seven holes?

DARREN CLARKE: I would like to think so, hope so, but yeah, I feel fine now, I'm going back to the range to hit balls and then I'm going back to the gym this afternoon.

Q. Do you feel like you stole one sort of, down 2 with 3 to go?

DARREN CLARKE: Match play isn't like stroke play. It's completely different. 1 back, which I made a really good 2 on 16. All of a sudden your opponent is 3 up with 2 to go, and then the game is over. But I got 1 back, so now I'm back 1 with two to go. One hole makes a huge change mentally, so 2 down and three to go, no, you're never out of it, not in match play.

Q. Can you recall any similar --

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know if golf is quite good enough to be an epic, but no, I don't think I've gone 25 holes before.

Q. It looked like both of you, from what I saw, were having trouble with the flat stick all day long. Was it not getting it close to the hole or the putter is not working?

DARREN CLARKE: Both. It's tough to make putts on these greens. I would say from 25 feet, even from 10 feet for most of us today. They're quite quick, a little bumpy but quite difficult to read. If you don't knock the putts in then you're going to see a game where we're making pars the majority of the time. That's not quite what we want to do.

Q. At 18, how far do you think that ball goes past the hole?

DARREN CLARKE: Six feet. It wasn't that far.

Q. I mean, I saw the shot. I was just wondering --

DARREN CLARKE: Did you like it as much as I did?

Q. You probably had a little more advantage than I did.


Q. But it was a nice shot.


Q. Were you surprised it went in?

DARREN CLARKE: No. Delighted, not surprised.

Q. You worked hard this week. Butch said yesterday that you were working very hard. You, yourself, seem quite cheerful. Looking over the way you hit the ball, were you pleased?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I missed a couple, but overall it was pretty good. I'll go and do some work now with Butch on the range and hopefully get better.

Q. How much of a relief -- if by the first round of this event just because guys -- it was Wednesday and you don't want to go home already?

DARREN CLARKE: It is a huge relief. You see guys out there, some guys probably shot 4 or 5-under today and are going home. That's a tough thing. The first round is so difficult to get through because nobody wants to go home after the first day, after today.

Q. Is it more of a relief for you international guys who traveled a little farther for this event?

DARREN CLARKE: Possibly. Not for me. I've been over here three weeks, but for the guys who do travel a long way from Japan and then away, it gets pretty tough.

Q. Given your success here, Darren, to have ended up losing a match, what would that do for you?

DARREN CLARKE: I lost a much worse one last year on Saturday morning when I was 4 up after 8 holes and lost to Peter Lonard.

Q. You talked yesterday about eventually understanding what Butch was trying to tell you. Did you see some of that today in your game?


Q. And I guess the second question is, as you've talked about -- and other fellows have talked about, as well -- it's difficult to putt on these greens. What do you do tonight or tomorrow morning to get yourself prepared for that, or is there anything?

DARREN CLARKE: Just work on our pace. That's the only thing you can do. Tomorrow there will be, fortunately, a few less heel marks in the green. Not that they've been bad, but now and again they tend to take on a mind of their own, but that's poa greens, as well. Just work on the pace because the greens are quite quick. You need to have a good fit in the greens if you're going to hole some.

Q. You said you've been here for three weeks. Is this the first time you've done a three-week stretch in southern California?

DARREN CLARKE: No, I've done it before.

Q. How do you like the golf in southern California, in general?

DARREN CLARKE: It's great. I just wish I had more opportunity to play these past couple weekends.

Q. You're working with Butch today. Will he just reinforce what you've been doing?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, just keep doing the same thing, that's all. Nothing different, I hope.

Q. He may come up to you and say, hey, I saw something?

DARREN CLARKE: Maybe, but hopefully not.

End of FastScripts.

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