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August 23, 2003

Darren Clarke


SCOTT CROCKETT: Okay, Darren, many thanks for coming in. An adventurous round today but ultimately a pleasing one I would suspect.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, 66 was a pretty good score today with the greens firming up it was making it difficult to get close to some of the pins, but I got a few breaks early on and didn't hit it particularly well, as well as I have been the first two rounds. My short game bailed me out a few times and I hit some good shots.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Before we take some questions, give us some details. You birdied the 2nd?

DARREN CLARKE: Driver, 8-iron to 25 feet, two putts.

3, driver, left rough into the right-hand bunker beside the green out to five feet, missed.

5, 6-iron to eight feet.

6, a drive, pulled it left, hit the trees came back across the fairway into the right-hand rough, hit a good shot out of the right-hand rough to about 15 feet and holed it for birdie.

10, I hit 3-wood off the tee, tried to hit a draw. There's a tree 20 yards off the tee, caught one of those branches, got up there, it was closer to the 18th fairway than it was the 10th. I chipped it up there, up the 18th fairway and hit wedge into the bunker, short-sighted myself, hit it to 25 or 30 feet and holed it for bogey, so it was a great bogey.

11, I hit 3-iron, sand iron to about ten feet and holed it.

13, I hit driver, a little 7-iron to about 15 and holed it.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Then a good save at 16 with your 3-wood from the fringe.

DARREN CLARKE: Pure tee shot to the right-hand bunker, sand wedge out, 4-iron down, sand wedge just pulled it to the edge of the green on the left and the rough was about 10 feet, 12 feet, then I hit 3-wood.

17, I hit driver and I had about 61 to the flag, something like that, and I hit a low lob wedge to about a foot.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You looked as if you were enjoying yourself.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I hit some good shots and some bad shots, but thankfully my short game has been very sharp today and that's what made the difference.

Q. You said you played down the 18th fairway?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes. If you had seen where I was you would have done the same thing. I had no other option. It was about 200 yards off the tee right in the rough to the right of 18, down in there. I didn't have a back swing to even get it back on the 10th fairway so I had to hit it up the 18th fairway.

Q. On 6 if you don't hit the tree, what --

DARREN CLARKE: I'd probably have some sort of shot to try to get it up around the green, but it came back across into the rough on the other side, so it wasn't a great lie on the rough on the other side.

Q. How many 3-wood chips have you holed?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know.

Q. You have holed them before?

DARREN CLARKE: I've holed one or two before. There were a couple of pure shots in there but they were mixed in with a lot of good ones.

Q. You didn't kill yourself with the bad ones it seemed today?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, with the good short game that's what happens.

Q. After you have a hole like the 10th one, how do you get yourself back together?

DARREN CLARKE: Get on with it. What's the point? Just hit it up the fairway. You hit sand wedge to ten feet and birdie the next hole. Sometimes the ball doesn't always go where we want it to go. It was just a bad swing and I had to carry on and get on with it.

Q. What do you expect tomorrow, Darren? If the conditions stay this way will you finish with pars?

DARREN CLARKE: The course is playing tough. You can see from the scoring. It's a fantastic leaderboard. We've got a lot of the world's best golfers here and that's a fair reflection on the golf course. It's a great course which has become progressively more difficult as the week has gone on because of the greens drying out. If you do miss the fairways it's almost impossible to get at some of the flags. I want to go out and play tomorrow like I did play with a few less bad shots and see how I got on.

Q. Darren, over the last five or six years you've been in here on a fairly regular basis. You've had a lot of good rounds here, but unless my memory fails me you've had trouble backing up your really good rounds with a good one the next day. You've been up-and-down just a wee bit but not a lot.

DARREN CLARKE: Didn't I finish 66, 66 last time?

Q. I don't know, I'll have to look.

DARREN CLARKE: 66 is really good around here.

Q. You've been beaten out of the door here for a few years. Do you feel like this course -- I don't want to say owe you one.

DARREN CLARKE: This course doesn't owe me one. There's some courses that we play that every guy would say they set up to their eye and they can see shots very easily, and this is one that I happen to like playing. That's not to say I'll go out and play great tomorrow, far from it, but I enjoy the golf course. I like the golf course. It's nice to play a golf course that you like as opposed to ones you don't.

Q. Was it in any way a blessing in disguise that you missed the cut last week?

DARREN CLARKE: It's never good to miss a cut at a major, even more so by one. My game wasn't that bad last week, it was the first round where it killed me. I short-sighted myself an awful lot of times, and if you do that over here now with some of the pin positions, a lot of the pin positions that the PGA Tour has adopted, you just can't get up-and-down. I think that's been the case all year over here that if you do short-sight yourself it's a very, very difficult game, and I did that a lot of times last Thursday. Yes, I was disappointed, but in hindsight it's been good to come down here and work as hard as I have. That's a roundabout way of saying yes.

Q. Can you talk about your short game? Haven't you worked pretty hard on that this year? Have you put in more work than normal and if so what inspired you to do that?

DARREN CLARKE: It hasn't been good enough, basically. If you're not shooting the numbers you should be shooting there's got to be some aspects you need to identify. I've worked pretty hard this past three or four weeks or so because I was working -- I had almost gotten too technical with my main swing with Butch and trying to figure out a few things and neglected my short game, so I had to work on it very hard. I've been putting reasonably well, but this week it seems to be going in so far. If you're making those 10 to 15-foot putts, then it makes a huge difference to the score.

Q. Considering how you like this play and the people on the leaderboard, would it feel like a major to win this thing?

DARREN CLARKE: I haven't won a major so I can't really answer that question.

Q. How big would it be?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, it would be great. After the majors I think you'd have all the guys maybe with the exception of Sawgrass would say the World Golf Championship is the one to win next. I've been fortunate enough to win one but I'd like to give myself a chance to win another one.

Q. You rate this higher than anything else in Europe?

DARREN CLARKE: In terms of strength of field, I think you'd have to. When you get to play with the best players in the world, that's I think how people judge tournaments these days, through the strength of the field.

Q. Your desire to win, the meaningfulness of winning?

DARREN CLARKE: The meaningfulness of winning is to try and beat the best golfers. There's a lot of the best golfers here.

Q. You've come close a few times. This season quite a number of times, and it's just not happened. Is it going to happen now?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. What's the worst thing I can do tomorrow? I can play the worst I've ever played tomorrow and it's not going to make any difference. I'm going to come out and see if I can. I've put the work in to get myself in a position like this, so I think I'm on the right road. My scores are starting to show that, so it's a gradual case of just improving again. Everybody goes up-and-down in this game.

Q. It's got to give you a lot of confidence being in this position come tomorrow.

DARREN CLARKE: I'm looking forward to it. I've had a lot of fun this week on the golf course and I plan to do the same thing again tomorrow.

Q. Would you say you've rededicated yourself? Have you put in a lot more work this year than you have for a while?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really. I tend to work pretty hard. People don't think that I do, looking at me, but I actually do work pretty hard. I have been working really hard, and it's been frustrating to put as much work in as I have been and not gotten any results. Sometimes that happens.

Q. After The Masters I think we got word that you had decided to go into kind of a physical conditioning mode.

DARREN CLARKE: It's been great.

Q. I wondered about the progress of that.

DARREN CLARKE: Not quite as good as I'd hoped really.

Q. When did it end or did it ever really start?

DARREN CLARKE: I have been doing a little bit. Believe it or not, I have been doing a little bit. Because I've been playing an awful lot of golf, and one of the things I said I would do is do it at home and not at the golf tournaments, because I want to practice as much as I have, and because I've been working really hard I haven't had time to do very little else. That's not an excuse, it's actually the real reason. It's something that I am still going to pursue. Hopefully I'll be a little bit lighter when you ask the same question again next year.

Q. Do you want to lose weight or get stronger aerobically or do you want to lift weights or --

DARREN CLARKE: I'm pretty strong now. I don't need to do that much. I've just got to lose a little bit of weight basically and get myself a little bit fitter so maybe coming down the stretch I won't make mistakes because of not being out of shape and not mentally alert and sharp as I should be.

Q. I don't want this to sound negative since you're in this tournament, but do you feel like you've fulfilled your potential?

DARREN CLARKE: That's not the first time I've been asked that. I've been asked that a few times. When I play well I can play very well. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen as much as I would like. It's not through lack of work, it's just sometimes it doesn't happen. I have tended to get very annoyed in the past, but hopefully I think this year my attitude has been very, very good. Again, my results haven't shown that. It's trying to be patient and wait for things to happen, and patience is not one of my virtues.

Q. So when Feherty marvels at the simplicity of your swing --

DARREN CLARKE: He's from home.

Q. And he compares you to Nick Price with a stomach, is that a stomach?

DARREN CLARKE: Depends how big a stomach. If it was a pregnant stomach, then maybe not, but we'll see. I've known Feherty for a long time, so it's always nice to hear him say decent things anyway.

Q. Do you think that you've dropped shots because of fitness or is it because of golf?

DARREN CLARKE: A bit of both. I think Augusta was a prime example of that. I think the book I see have it right back in the UK. They said if there's ever a rain delay in a tournament do not pick Darren Clarke. That means I have to play more than 18 holes in a day.

Q. What is your weight?

DARREN CLARKE: Highly confidential.

Q. You won the 26-hole match with Tiger, so obviously that wasn't an issue that day.

DARREN CLARKE: No, it wasn't. Sometimes I'm okay and sometimes I'm not. Most of the time I'm okay, but Augusta was one where it really brought it home for me. Augusta was playing as hilly as the golf course was. They were very long walks, and I made some mistakes that I don't think ordinarily I would have done, so that's what brought the whole thing to my attention.

Q. Did you finish in the dark one night, too, maybe rush a couple of holes to try to get done?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I think I was at Sawgrass the previous -- two weeks previous where we played in the dark and I finished bogey, bogey. A little bit lighter and not playing in the dark might help.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Darren, many thanks. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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