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February 28, 2003

Darren Clarke


SCOTT CROCKETT: Darren, thanks for coming in. Same results as yesterday.

DARREN CLARKE: Pleased to win. I played very solidly for the first 13 and a half holes, and then got a wrong club on -- hit the wrong club on 14, or second shot into -- now, I can't remember which holes are which -- the long par-4 -- 14. I hit the wrong second shot in there, and sort of lost my rhythm completely. And Jim had a good shot in there, and got back to all square. We tried to give each other a couple of holes after that. We both missed short putts and I holed a nice one on 17 from about 4 feet coming back up the hill to go 1-up. And fortunately Jim didn't make it on the last one.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Is the driving as good as it has been?

DARREN CLARKE: Those first 14 holes, I hit the driver all day. It was very good. I didn't miss many fairways.

Q. Do you ever allow yourself to think it could be another big meeting with Tiger?

DARREN CLARKE: 18 holes match play, when you get ahead of yourself that's when you get problems. No, not at all. It would be nice, but I have a few more games left before I can start thinking like that.

Q. Were you pleased with the way you recovered -- it was like a mini setback, wasn't it?

DARREN CLARKE: It was, it was. And 17, I stood up there, I had an 8-iron over the flag, and the same thing with the driver, right up the middle of the fairway and a really solid 3-wood, it was good after making the mistakes that I had done on the previous couple of holes.

Q. The putter on 12 was a real saver. It was downhill.

DARREN CLARKE: Putting 12 was very good. I putted very nicely all day without holing an awful lot. 12 was a good one to make back again. But it was always going to be a difficult match against Jim. He's a world-class player, so it was always going to be a tight game.

Q. Have you played with him head-to-head before?

DARREN CLARKE: I'm not sure. I'm not sure that I have. I don't think so. We played against each other in the Ryder Cup, not in the singles, but in one of the fourballs we played against each other.

Q. Do you wish there were more match-play events?

DARREN CLARKE: If I keep winning, yes.

Q. More than that you get invited to, anyway?

DARREN CLARKE: Right. Thank you. Took the words out of my mouth. I do seem to enjoy it. I don't know why. I seem to play a little better.

Q. Possible 36 holes tomorrow. How is your fitness these days?

DARREN CLARKE: Finely tuned athlete. Can't you tell? I don't know. I'll see. Go out and play it. I know there's a possibility of 36 holes, the last time I didn't. And I hope I'll play well in the morning and hopefully give myself a chance to play in the afternoon.

Q. Beating Tiger in the final a couple of years ago, is that clearly the highlight of your career? Do you put it at the top?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, it would be. It would be up there, and winning the European Open in Dublin a couple of years ago was a big thing for me, because nobody from Ireland won at home for 20 years. But in terms of tournaments, this would certainly be the highlight so far. As I said to you guys yesterday, the changes and everything that I'm trying to make, it's nice to see them working so early in the season.

Q. Is it going to take more time?

DARREN CLARKE: He said it's going to take more time to get out of my bad habits, but he's pleased with what I've managed to do so far.

Q. How did you get into the habits, Darren? I know it happens in golf, where the slightest little thing, but was it a long time building or did you suddenly get into it?

DARREN CLARKE: Long time building, probably. In this game, all of us guys are always looking to get better, and the difference between winning tournaments and finishing middle of the pack is not that big a difference. It's one shot here, another shot there. So in order to try to achieve those things, you go off in different directions that you shouldn't do, but you don't know it at the time.

Q. Were you overswinging at all?

DARREN CLARKE: No, not really, just coming more over the top and wiping it, really. Because I've grown-up playing on links with a strong grip, I've always tended to hold it off. I'm trying to get out of that. There's a few more things, but that's the main thing that Butch wants me to do.

End of FastScripts....

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