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September 25, 2003

Darren Clarke


Q. Sum up your first round, Darren.

DARREN CLARKE: I was very pleased but we got very fortunate with the weather here, the wind didn't blow that hard for us early on and to get Carnoustie out of the way on the rota in very good conditions was a big boost. I am very pleased with the way I played too, I controlled my ball flight very well for the majority of the day, made a lot of chances, made some, missed some, but five under par is a very good start to the tournament.

Q. Carnoustie has traditionally been the harder course, this year is seems to be the easiest?

DARREN CLARKE: As I said, it is because we got fortunate with the weather. Any of these courses, if you get lucky with the weather, you are going to have a lot of opportunities. This one in the wind, most of the guys would say, is the most difficult but we didn't get what was forecast last night and that is why the scoring was so good.

Q. You hit some cracking shots today, what about the two to the 17th?

DARREN CLARKE: That was three wood, four iron.

Q. Priorities for the rest of the year?

DARREN CLARKE: To play well. To attempt to continue to play well and I am very happy with things. I struggled a little bit with my swing and finished fifth but I wasn't quite firing on all cylinders, but I had four conversations with Butch Harmon within a half hour period on the practice range and managed to figure a few things out. His son Claude was there as well and Claude was interpreting the instructions a lot better than I was able to because Claude has been working in Vegas for a long time and he was able to tell me exactly what I was doing and what I wasn't so I felt a lot better yesterday and today.

Q. Ball-striking today?

DARREN CLARKE: About the same as I have been doing.

Q. You seemed to enjoy the whole day with JP and Dermot?

DARREN CLARKE: These boys are great, we have known them for a long time, and Padraig as well and because of that it is easy. You know what Dermot and JP are like, they are mad into it, they have been really looking forward to it. JP played fantastic, unreal, Dermot played well on the holes he had to come in on, most notably on the 17th. We all know each other so it was great fun, brilliant.

Q. Would winning the Order of Merit mean a lot?

DARREN CLARKE: To me it would, yes. I would love to win the Order of Merit, it has been one of my goals for a long, long time. But I have to play exceptionally well to catch Ernie because I am sure he is going to play exceptionally well too. I can only play as well as I can and see how it finishes up at the end of the year.

Q. Would you change your schedule to win it?

DARREN CLARKE: There is nothing really to change. I am playing next week in Atlanta and then Vegas the week after that. Then I come back and have three days off and do a lot of corporate stuff at the weekend and then I may go to Madrid, I don't know, I may go, I may not. If I was close enough I would probably go, I wouldn't have any qualms about going.

Q. How many times have you had a realistic chance of winning the Order of Merit?

DARREN CLARKE: Don't know, but we'll see what happens. But I am sure Ernie is going to play well and I'll have to do as well as I can to catch him.

End of FastScripts.

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