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February 24, 2004

Darren Clarke


SCOTT CROCKETT: Okay, Darren, many thanks for coming in. We normally welcome people to Accenture. We might have to introduce you, you're so different looking from last year. Let's start with the weight loss and fitness regime.

DARREN CLARKE: It's the same story I'm telling everybody. Basically, I'm in the gym six days a week, working out two hours a day. I wish my golf was the same as the way I feel. I'm pretty much into it now and I want to keep getting better and stronger.

Q. Obviously you did it for a reason and you might feel it's benefitting you.

DARREN CLARKE: I do feel a bit better.

Q. And your form?

DARREN CLARKE: I'm putting my head down, keep working, working on a couple things with Butch that haven't broken through yet, but hopefully I'll start playing better soon.

Q. Fitness-wise, have you thought about running a marathon?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really. I want to get fitter and feel a lot stronger. I feel that way now, but I've only been doing it for six, seven months, so there's a long way to go yet.

Q. Have you felt the benefit out on the course?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes. The reason why I have been playing poorly is not because I've been feeling tired.

Q. Is Steve still traveling with you?

DARREN CLARKE: He's not here this week, but he was there the last couple of weeks, and he's in Dubai next week and then back over in America again, so he is still traveling with me.

Q. Have the last few weeks been a bit of a shock after starting out at the Mercedes?

DARREN CLARKE: Disappointing more than anything. I played so well the week after and missed the cut by one. I didn't get up-and-down and missed the cut by one. Then I went to Butch and spent three days in Vegas before I went to Torrey Pines, and I just basically misunderstood what Butch was trying to get me to do, so I worked on it and got myself into the wrong sort of position, so now I'm working to get myself out of it.

Q. What part of your game has been iffy so far?

DARREN CLARKE: Probably my iron play has been not quite as sharp as it should be. I've been short-siding myself a lot and you can't afford to do that. I did that all day at Riviera on Thursday and paid a huge penalty for it. My irons are not as sharp as they should be.

Q. When did you discover that?

DARREN CLARKE: When they started hooking left and then hooking another 15 yards, it's usually a dead giveaway. I misunderstood what he was trying to get me to do is the right thing, but I just misunderstood it. That was my fault.

Q. Where were you when you realized that?

DARREN CLARKE: Probably the last eight holes at Torrey Pines on the Friday afternoon.

Q. Were you on the South course or the North course?

DARREN CLARKE: I was on the South. I was 4-under par for the tournament with eight holes to go, and I finished 4-over par for the tournament, so that wasn't too good.

Q. Did you give him a call?

DARREN CLARKE: We spoke and kept working on things last week. It's fine, okay, just a bad habit that I've gotten into.

Q. Are you saying, Darren, it's a result of the loss in weight and the gym --

DARREN CLARKE: No, nothing to do with that.

Q. But he was saying to me yesterday that there are problems that you are facing now with your swing as a result of the physical change.

DARREN CLARKE: He hasn't told me about them yet. Thank you, John. Just boost my confidence a little more. Don't worry. It's just a little bit of a timing issue, as I said at the start, that's all, but it's starting to feel a lot better.

Q. Some of the other European players like Colin and Padraig talked about this course. It doesn't seem like it sets up well for their game but it sets up well for your game. What is it about La Costa?

DARREN CLARKE: Possibly because the greens have always been a little bit soft when we've been here. You've got to control the spin going into the greens. If you spin them too much it's tough to get them at the back flags. And because of growing up at home playing in a lot of wind, I'm used to chipping a lot of shots and hitting knockdown shots, and that's why I think I've played here well in the past, trying to take the spin off the ball, which I'm comfortable doing because you have to do that whenever you're playing links golf.

Q. This is the course that you were playing where you were probably blatantly told that you needed to get in better shape.

DARREN CLARKE: Do you think I listened then? No.

Q. Obviously it's a wet course, it's going to be a wet course the whole week. If you go all the way through like you did then, how much better are you to be able to handle that from a physical standpoint now than you were when you won?

DARREN CLARKE: Oh, it would be a huge difference. It would be a huge difference. But it wasn't this tournament that -- not being in shape didn't get to me here, it was at Augusta after the first round. If I was to go all the way this week, then certainly I think I'd be in a lot better shape to do that.

Q. What do you view as the biggest difference in being a good stroke-play player and a good match-play player?

DARREN CLARKE: Stupidity, I was going to say, really, but I don't think that will go down well. Probably knowing when to be aggressive and when not to be. It's very easy getting caught up in playing your opponent and not the golf course. Sometimes you can pay too much attention to what your opponent is doing, sometimes you have to, but it's just get the bounce right, and fairways and greens are always going to be tough in match play.

Q. How much is it a mental attitude, too? You beat Tiger here, and I remember Butch talking afterward saying you scared it right into him and said, I'm going to play you straight up. How much of it is mental?

DARREN CLARKE: Huge mental game. It's huge in match play. You've got to stand up and be counted. Your opponent is going to hit shots and you have to stand up and do it after him. There's a lot of mental side to it. At the end of the day you've still got to play very well.

Q. Can you explain to me the reasons why Butch is good for you? What makes him a good coach for you?

DARREN CLARKE: I think Butch is very good for me because we've got a similar type personality. We enjoy ourselves. He says what he needs to say to me and then let's me get on with things. He gives me a bit of grief whenever he thinks I need a bit of grief. He basically is just very interested in how I'm going to play. He speaks to me on a very regular basis after watching me play. If I'm not over here, then watching on the golf channel. He'll be watching in Vegas and give me a call and say, you're doing this and that, and we just get on very well.

Q. Is he good at imparting to you exactly what he wants you to do?

DARREN CLARKE: He's very good at imparting it to me in a very simplified manner, as much as my brain can cope with.

Q. He doesn't come along like David Leadbetter used to do, with all sorts of devices and balls and things like that?

DARREN CLARKE: No, I'd throw him out if he did.

Q. He stands there and says, do this, do that?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, and in Vegas everything is on the facility there. Week in, week out, it's really very simple.

Q. As you answered that question, how do you explain the mess-up between you and Butch just recently on that --

DARREN CLARKE: Just my misunderstanding. What he told me to do was the right thing to do, but I ended up doing something else. I was doing it with him in Vegas, but then he wasn't with me when I played Torrey Pines.

Q. So you just need him next to you all the time?

DARREN CLARKE: No, not at all, which is my misunderstanding, that's all.

Q. Do you have to have that kind of joking relationship that you and he have? Have you had coaches in the past who have not been quite so friendly?

DARREN CLARKE: No, I tend to get on with everybody, but Butch is probably a little bit more friendly, more jokes with Butch than anybody else.

Q. Does that help in terms of not making it boring on the range and just hitting balls?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, exactly.

Q. What would you call him? We know what he says about you. What can you tell us?

DARREN CLARKE: What do I call him? Many things, some of them polite, some not so polite.

Q. Is there a polite one you can tell us?


Q. When we were at Mercedes we were talking about your lifestyle changes, not only just the physical part of it but what you're eating and drinking and so forth and so on. How has that manifested itself over this month and a half? Has it been more difficult for you because you've been away?

DARREN CLARKE: Not at all. It's been just as easy. I've gotten used to it so it doesn't bother me in the slightest, just not as many trips to In and Out Burger.

Q. How much weight have you lost?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know honestly.

Q. No idea?

DARREN CLARKE: Probably in the range of 35 pounds, something like that.

Q. Do you think that affected your swing a little bit? Is that something that you're addressing?

DARREN CLARKE: I would like to say no. I don't think it should -- I feel better, feel stronger, so I don't think it should be affecting my swing.

Q. If it did -- hypothetically, if it did, would it still be worth -- and you were getting yourself in this kind of shape, would it be worth it?

DARREN CLARKE: What, to get myself in shape and miss the cut every week?

Q. To lose your swing for a while and then obviously regain it?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, it would be. Listen, I've only had a couple of weekends off. I'm not panicking just yet.

Q. As an example, in the NFL there were guys that would say I'd do whatever I have to do to play football and then die when they're 45. Not that I'm sucking --

DARREN CLARKE: I've only got ten years left then and then I'm gone.

Q. But the fact that the conscious effort of getting in better shape -- (inaudible).

DARREN CLARKE: I know what you mean, yes. I want to get in better shape and give myself a better chance to play well on a regular basis. That's the whole reason why I'm doing it. I just hit a hiccup the past couple of weeks, and I want to get on with things and play better.

Q. After Augusta you sort of made the decision?

DARREN CLARKE: Well, it was there at the back of my mind. I didn't make the decision until the middle of the summer. I knew part of the reason why I played so poorly after the first round was because I wasn't in shape, so I had to change.

Q. Do you know at what point you will say, all right, I've lost enough weight, I'm okay? I'm going to stay at this weight? What point will that be?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. I'll see. I'll see what Steve Hampson says, my trainer.

Q. Does he know?

DARREN CLARKE: I would imagine so. I hope so.

Q. Maybe it'll be at the point you're playing better?

DARREN CLARKE: I've had two weekends off. Stop panicking. Relax.

Q. Do you think about World Rankings at all in terms of trying to play in the Top 10, being Europe's top player, or does that sort of come with --

DARREN CLARKE: I just want to play better, try and get back into the Top 10 again. I've been teetering on the edge of it again since last August, and I want to play better and get back into the Top 10 and keep going as far as I can.

Q. How often do you look at them?

DARREN CLARKE: On a weekly basis.

Q. Are certain things tied into it, without getting into details, performance related?


Q. When you won here, did that change your expectations of your career? Did it make you kind of --

DARREN CLARKE: No, it didn't change my expectations at all. I just haven't quite lived up to them since until last August at Firestone when I started playing better again.

Q. How would you describe what your expectation -- what do you think you are capable of accomplishing?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. I just want to keep playing and playing as well as I can and see where that takes me to. I've proved that I can win big tournaments, so I want to try to do that on a more frequent basis.

Q. How much better do you think you are now than 2000?

DARREN CLARKE: From a physical point, I'm an awful lot better. From a mental point, a little bit better, and from a golfing point, I would like to think a lot better.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks very much, Darren.

End of FastScripts.

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