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April 11, 2003

Darren Clarke


JIM BLANCHARD: Ladies and gentlemen, we happen to have Darren Clarke. Darren, I believe you are 4-under and finished on what hole?


JIM BLANCHARD: Make some comments, will you, about today and then we'll open it up for questions.

DARREN CLARKE: This morning I shot 66. It was obviously very good. I played really well all day. Made a very few mistakes. That's during this morning's round. Hit it close a lot. And 66 was a pretty fair score, I felt, this morning. This afternoon I haven't played quite so well. Grinding it out a little bit. But unfortunately I just managed to finish bogey, bogey on the last two holes. But overall if somebody would have said you're 4-under after 28 holes I would have certainly bit their hand off last night.

Q. Just bogey, bogey before the horn, was it just fatigue? Long day? And then explain --

DARREN CLARKE: I would like to say that. I would like to say fatigue, long day. But not really. Just made a couple of mistakes. Couple of poor swings. Maybe a little bit this afternoon I just started leaking it a little bit to the right. And that probably was from being tired, weary.

Q. And then 10 we saw it on television. Kind of explain what you hit on your second shot over there and how that pitch got away from you?

DARREN CLARKE: Well, I hit 4-iron out of the rough I was trying to cut it in there a little bit and the lie wasn't really that good. The last place I wanted to miss it was right so I played it over there left. And I got down to my ball and it wasn't lying that well. Grass coming back against me and I wasn't going to leave it short. So I got a little bit too firm with it and got ahead. So some bogeys are good here and that was one of them.

Q. Given the fact that you finished bogey, bogey, did the sun go down at about the right time to give you a chance to regroup tomorrow come back tomorrow and start over?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, a little bit. I did the same thing a few weeks ago at Sawgrass. When I decided to play the last three holes in the dark and played bogey, bogey. So I think these delays, I'm going to have to stop dropping these couple of shots when it gets late. But 4-under I think is a very good score for today. Certainly a very, very tough golf course. And this week overall I've played very well.

Q. The wait on 10. You had to wait about 15 minutes there, didn't you?

DARREN CLARKE: Again I would like to say it did, but I don't think so. I just didn't turn my drive quite enough and that's why I finished in the rough and finished so far back. I was only about a yard from being perfect.

Q. The wet, muddy conditions, is this kind of a situation that you do prefer to play in?

DARREN CLARKE: Certainly not. Nobody wants to play in wet, muddy conditions. We plant to play in a T-shirt with the sun at our back. But we got to adapt to whatever we need to. Certainly it's pretty tough with the fairways damp and a few mud balls. And saying that, the fairways were very good today I thought. I had only one or two. And you just got to be very precise with striking your irons over the fairway, otherwise they're not going to go the distance. No control. It places emphasis on different aspects of the game.

Q. Can you just talk about what it's like. The conditions were all over the place today. Warm, cold, windy, everything. Wet and then it was drying out. Can you take us through just how they changed on you and what you had to do to adjust to all these?

DARREN CLARKE: Like a summer's day in Ireland that was today. You got your waterproofs on and off and you just basically have to do as well as you can. You got to keep focused on what you're trying to do and hit whatever shots are appropriate at the right time. If it's windy and cold or whatever it's not always the appropriate shot to hit a 3-iron straight up in the air. You got to knock something down and what have you. So all of us out there would have been doing that today. Just adjusting. But it certainly is making the golf course even tougher.

Q. Do you feel as though you are in your best ever position to perhaps win a Major, not just for your score today, but your disposition, your calmness, your overall preparation?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, overall I've met the changes that I made at the start of the year, I made quite a few and so far this year they're paying off. And certainly I'm very comfortable where I am at the moment and hopefully I'll go back out tomorrow morning and recapture some of the form that I had from this morning and make a few more birdies around the back nine and get myself back to the top again.

Q. Specifically Doctor Rotella, what two things or three things have you drawn from him to help you to stay calm?

DARREN CLARKE: Doc has got my preshot routine much more consistent. I do the same thing all the time. Which I used to be a bit all over the place. So he's got me a lot more consistent with that one. Preshot. Both on my main swing, short game and putting. And because of that I'm much more focused on what I'm doing.

Q. You talked about the changes. Your great strength now appears to be your driver. Are you using your driver more than you used to?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I probably am. But in saying that this week it demands that you've got to use your driver where it's playing that long. I got a new driver from Taylor Made there about four weeks ago, five weeks ago. And it's been fantastic ever since. The driver, the combination of the Titleist ball has made a huge difference. Which it has to quite a few other players as well.

Q. The preshot routine is a pretty basic element that a lot of guys talk about. Were you changing it all the time?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I wasn't very consistent, no. I wasn't very consistent before. He's now taught me to just take a look at my target and go and hit it. And that's about as much as I think about. It seems to be working great so far.

Q. First round leader of the Masters, first player from Ireland to ever lead a round at the Masters, but you only have an hour to enjoy it. Do you look at this day as 4-under after all these holes or do you look at that 66 in the first round as part of the deal?

DARREN CLARKE: 4-under. 4-under lying second and go and try and improve tomorrow morning again. The first round is only the first round of a tournament, doesn't really count for that. It gets you in a position where you can improve from it. But there's certainly a long way to go from this morning. So I was by no means getting ahead of myself this morning.

Q. Do you think tiredness will be a factor over the weekend? You've got an early start tomorrow, you have to play more than 18 holes tomorrow?

DARREN CLARKE: Are you requesting my fitness?

(Laughter.) Athlete that I am.

Q. Did I say that?

DARREN CLARKE: I hope not. No, I feel fine now. I would like to put down some of most those bogeys down to tiredness this afternoon, I didn't particularly feel it. So I feel fine. I got fairly big thick sturdy legs that will hopefully carry me around for the next few days.

JIM BLANCHARD: Well, we'll let this fellow go home and get some rest. Thank you for stopping in and it was great day of golf and good luck tomorrow.


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