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August 21, 2003

Darren Clarke


SCOTT CROCKETT: A very solid performance. Is that a fair assessment?

DARREN CLARKE: I hit a couple pretty good tee shots on 17 and 18 and managed to scramble to par, so overall I was very pleased with the way I played.

Q. Darren, is your striking now back to early season standards?


Q. So what did it take?

DARREN CLARKE: I've worked with an arm bracelet, that funny looking thing you see me use. I've worked with that for the past month and it's sharpened my swing and made my timing a lot better.

Q. Is it actually to shorten your swing or to stop a flying elbow?

DARREN CLARKE: Just to shorten my swing.

Q. 266 this year, two years ago finished third. What are the hopes?

DARREN CLARKE: Thanks for refreshing my memory. I like the golf course. If anything, it's only the first round, but it's a bit of a relief to come here after last week. I'm not saying this is easy, far from it, but just after last week it was so difficult. It's almost a relief to come here and play where the rough is not as severe. You know, I like this golf course and hopefully I keep doing what I'm doing.

Q. Do you think we're seeing what we thought we were going to see any number of times earlier in the year?

DARREN CLARKE: I hope so. Last week whenever we spoke afterwards, I'm very happy with what I'm working on and what I'm doing and hopefully the results will start to come, but I've put a lot of work in. I came here on Saturday and worked hard Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and it's a matter of waiting for some of the holes to come in.

Q. Was your drive on 16?

DARREN CLARKE: Very temptingly far.

Q. Was it 420?

DARREN CLARKE: It was a long way. I had a real, real chance at going for it. I had 276 to the front, and only the ball was laying on the slight downslope. I had the 3-wood out and put it back in the bag again and I had it out and I put it back in the bag again. I had it in and out three times.

Q. Was that a joint decision?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes. I hit a perfect sand wedge and took one bounce into the back bunker and made it for par. Anyway, I decided to lay up.

Q. You look at the early lead this week, and all the players that were there last week, does that just make it a little bit easier? Is that the encouragement that you need?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know if it's the encouragement or not, but I think last week with the rough off the fairway was very thick as it was around the greens, and I think as tough as it was around the greens, that took away an awful lot of people's skill away around the greens. I'm not saying it would have made any difference to my score, but the guys you would have expected to be up there, because the rough was to thick around the greens, it wasn't that easy to get up-and-down. Everybody was basically hoping for the best.

You know, I think this week the course setup is perfect. It gives you an opportunity -- you still have tough lies but it gives you an opportunity to playing the shots you need to play. Last week was more penal.

Q. Was it too penal?

DARREN CLARKE: It was for me. I think it just was a little bit too much, just a hair. But as I said, at the time, even when I missed the cut last week, it was the fairest, toughest, best course I've played in a long, long time. The course itself was fantastic but rough was too severe around the greens.

Q. Where did your ball hit on 16 that it went as far as it did? Was it going down the right side?

DARREN CLARKE: Middle of the fairway somewhere. It didn't land on a sprinkler or in the rough.

Q. What do you think of them moving back the tee like that?

DARREN CLARKE: Personally I would prefer to see it up forward where we give the spectators a lot more challenge to go for it. It's a very difficult shot to go for that green off the down slope. If you hit it far enough you can have 3 or 4-iron into that green. It's very difficult to go wedge, wedge. It's a more difficult hole off the new tee at the back, but it would be a much more exciting tee going forward.

Q. If you're in exactly the same position after the tee tomorrow under the same conditions, wind conditions, et cetera, will you go for it?

DARREN CLARKE: If the ball wasn't lying away from me I would, definitely I would.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much. Good luck, Darren.

End of FastScripts....

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