March 5, 2003
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
DARREN CLARKE: I was able to work on some things last week, obviously disappointed to be leaving Saturday morning, but certainly I've improved and much, much better than last year at this time. Last week was certainly very encouraging, so there are a lot of positives.
At the time I made a mistake -- around the back nine -- which told me was going to happen, which I told the guys about, I've been working very, very hard. All of my equipment and everything is sorted out.
Q. How much time have you spent with Butch?
DARREN CLARKE: Thursday -- and then I spoke to him every day, two or three times about my game at Riviera and then every day I worked with him at La Costa. So we spent quite a lot of time.
Q. Is he more available now than he used to be?
DARREN CLARKE: He has been thus far, because Tiger really -- I don't think it's less of a commitment but I think it's less off the course. So that works out very well for me. I've been able to spend quite a bit of time with him. I have a couple of programs on the laptop so I can look at that whenever I want to. If I want to take a look at my swing, I can take out the laptop -- straight over.
Q. You played with Ernie yesterday and you're playing with him the next few days.
DARREN CLARKE: It's fantastic. To play with the No. 2 player in the world is always a great opportunity.
DARREN CLARKE: Oh, yeah I've worked harder last year than I've ever done before; I was just working on the wrong things. I've set some goals.
Q. After playing stroke for stroke, shot for shot is that how you will play with Ernie this week --
DARREN CLARKE: No, I'll just keep working on the things I'm working on. I did it yet yesterday and did it the same way this morning in the Pro-Am, and then take off into the tournament and the results will come.
DARREN CLARKE: At the moment I'm quite happy with what I'm doing, and if I do hit it off at the moment I'm able to understand why; why I'm doing it. Unfortunately, it lasts more than the back nine, got ahead of myself -- couldn't figure it out. I usually do but I couldn't quite -- it was definitely not what I'm used to.
Q. Losing to Lonard was frustrating?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, it was disappointing, but in the bigger picture, to start off as I have is a huge bonus. I'm hitting it, I don't know, 25 yards, 20 yards further than I ever have done before. It's going straight most of the time. So things are working out okay.
Q. It is the ball or clubs?
DARREN CLARKE: It's that, combined with the driver I'm using.
Q. How much is it helping?
DARREN CLARKE: Any time you're hitting it another 20 yards it will take it a little easier.
Q. So youÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â¹re up there with Tiger?
DARREN CLARKE: Tiger can give us about 25, 30 yards -- I'm not going to go down that road at all. I'm swinging better, as well. The equipment and the ball that I have at the moment, it's certainly a lot. I'm an awful lot more confident instead of worrying about what side of the fairway, just keep doing what I'm doing.
Q. Are you a great watcher of Tiger --
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I watch him. No reason why not to.
Q. What do you feel about playing with Ernie for the next two days?
DARREN CLARKE: Ernie's playing fantastic. I think the thing is -- it's the way he walks, the way he swings, everything. It's all so much within himself. As I said, to go out there with the No. 2 player in the world, I'll certainly be watching him. Trying and pick up anything that I can.
Q. How much of your improvement is down to mental attitude and how much to equipment?
DARREN CLARKE: It's both. You can't have one without the other. The equipment, if you haven't got that side of it right, you can't get strong mentally. For me, because I've got the great side of equipment very good, I'm getting more confident.
Q. The experience of the British Open seems to have helped ErnieÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â¹s attitude?
DARREN CLARKE: He's been working with Jos (Vanstiphout) a lot and he's been getting stronger and stronger.
Q. So last season wasnÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â¹t much fun?
DARREN CLARKE: No, last season was not much fun. I did work very hard but we had a lot of things going on off the golf course. I wasn't able to forget those when I was on the golf course, as much as I tried to, just some very important issues off the course.
Q. Does it change your outlook to life?
DARREN CLARKE: Certainly because of what we do, it's very easy to lose perspective. When you step back and take a look at things, we're very lucky to do what we do.
Q. Does it change your approach to the game?
DARREN CLARKE: Not really.
Q. Making so many changes --
DARREN CLARKE: Even with the things that were going on last year, I was still expecting more from myself. I don't look for excuses, nor could I accept them. So I have to address the situation in a different way and make some changes. So far, it's actually working out pretty well.
DARREN CLARKE: No, because I'm not very good at rocking the boat. I had a good long think about it and a few chats with certain people. Hopefully I can continue to improve.
Q. Two 68s to finish at Riviera was good?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I played really, really well. On 15, I hit -- and just drove it in the right rough and couldn't get quite to the green and so -- -- making the cut on the mark was very good. 68-68, 6-under at Riviera is pretty good. Going in the right direction, I guess.
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