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September 23, 2002

Darren Clarke


GORDON SIMPSON: Darren, I think Curtis and Sam both made the point today when they came in, they said, "finally, we're here." Is that the general feeling among the players, it's good to get the game on.

DARREN CLARKE: Definitely, we've been waiting for this one for a long time. A year down the line it's been a lot of delay, a lot of discussion about teams and selections and so forth. And it's good that we have both selected teams here and we're going to get going Friday.

GORDON SIMPSON: This is the third time; the first time was at the Belfry. How do you feel the matches have changed.

DARREN CLARKE: The couple of times I've been involved, they've both been very tight. There's a lot of things going on the last couple of holes. And at Brookline and Valderamma it was very tight, and I expect the same thing to happen this week, it's going to be a very, very close competition.

Q. Can you tell us what you've done today and also how you feel -- you've been practicing today?

DARREN CLARKE: No, I just arrived up about an hour and a half ago. I just drove up. I got home last night -- got home yesterday afternoon. I got home and went out and hit balls for a couple of hours last night when I got home, and have just driven up. Last week as I told the guys that were there, I was disappointed in the way I've played. But I've put in a lot of time, and hopefully that will pay off this week.

Q. What kind of frame of mind does that leave you for this challenge, after last week?

DARREN CLARKE: I think, again, with it being match play, it's different than what went on last week. But I know certainly a lot of guys seem to play very well. And this week is going to be completely different, and form can sometimes be thrown out the window here. And I think some of the guys that maybe have not been playing so well, I think this week will raise their games and get them back to the way they usually play.

Q. Do you feel capable of being able to reclaim this title?

DARREN CLARKE: Most definitely. Take a look at the last few Ryder Cups. There's only been a point separating them for the pass four or five. I think since it became Europe, the points are '97-'97 since it went to Europe. So it just goes to show how tight things are. So I think the form on paper is irrelevant, when it comes into this week, maybe not irrelevant, but maybe not as important as what some people put on it.

Q. How do you feel about a singles with Tiger?

DARREN CLARKE: I think every one of the European team members, including myself would relish the chance to play Tiger. He's number one in the world, he showed us again last week. If you don't want to step up against the best, you shouldn't be here. He would be the overwhelming favorite against whoever he tees it up against. So there's nothing to lose. I would love to have the chance to play him again; win, lose or half it, I'd still love to have the chance.

Q. Sort of following up on a Tiger question, which would you rather win, last week or this week?

DARREN CLARKE: I said it last week and I'll say it again, this week.

Q. Were you surprised by his remarks?

DARREN CLARKE: No, not at all. I think the European team, we really look forward to this week, and we want to win, especially because of losing at Brookline. That one hurt a lot because of the way that we did, taking that big a lead going into the singles and losing. And certainly the guys, which were part of that team, would really like to regain the trophy this week.

Q. Does gamesmanship appear much in match play at all?

DARREN CLARKE: Because it's such a heated atmosphere out there, there's always going to be little bits and pieces of stuff going on, but nothing seriously untoward.

Q. Sort of part and parcel of the game?

DARREN CLARKE: Exactly, it's all -- everybody wants to win, and you never really -- the feelings of most of the players runs high. And things happen that are just part of the game.

Q. You formed quite a partnership with Lee Westwood over the last few Ryder Cups. You've suffered a loss of form recently, are you still happy to play with him -- you both have had a dip in form recently.

DARREN CLARKE: What was the question, again?

Q. Would you still like to play with Lee?

DARREN CLARKE: I'd like to play with anybody, whoever Sam decides I should play with.

Q. When you referred to the bits and pieces that go on, what to you is a harmless bit or piece?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know, the things that Tony just said there. Azinger and Seve, and Phil teeing off before we got to the tee last time, they're just part and parcel of the Ryder Cup. There's no malice involved.

Q. There are four guys making their debut this time around; is there any particular piece of advice you've given them going into this week?

DARREN CLARKE: I think there's much better qualified people on our team and in our team room to give advice rather than the likes of myself. Guys that have played a lot more Ryder Cups than me. And I think they're the guys who the rookies will probably look to.

Q. Do you expect a crowd this week?

DARREN CLARKE: I would expect them to obviously have support for the home team, but hopefully be fair at the same time.

Q. Did you find Brookline over the top; did you find it very intimidating?

DARREN CLARKE: Certainly the atmosphere on Sunday was almost -- it was very electrifying atmosphere. And unfortunately we weren't able to play that well that day. And the Americans did play better than we did. It was difficult to try and get some momentum going, whenever things aren't going your way as a team.

Q. Was there anything that the opposing team did that irritated you in any particular way?

DARREN CLARKE: There was one or two things, with Phil teeing off before us getting to the tee. But that's soon forgotten about after the Ryder Cup.

Q. Did it seem to be getting the crowd up a little bit?

DARREN CLARKE: That's the Ryder Cup. You know that better than I do. A lot of you guys -- sometimes those sort of things happen.

Q. Do you think there could be a repeat by the European crowd this week?

DARREN CLARKE: Hopefully not. It's a sporting event, and it's not life or death. It's the game of golf. And hopefully we'll all have a good time and enjoy it coming to the end of the week.

Q. Just going back to the question about your partnership with Lee. Fair to say a couple of years ago you would be the first pairing down on the team sheet. Do you think that's changed and what are you expecting in the week?

DARREN CLARKE: Well, with the way that Lee has played, obviously he's gone through wherever he's gone in the world rankings. The last time he was one of the best players in the world and performing that way. I think Sam may choose now to split us up and try a few different things. That I don't know, the decision comes down to him. So he'll do what he thinks is best.

Q. Would you prefer to play with Lee or do you --?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't mind. Lee and I have always enjoyed each other's company, especially playing in this in the past. I would certainly love the opportunity to play with him. But if Sam decides to play me with somebody else, that's his decision.

Q. There was signs that he was getting back to his best. What has he said about how he's feeling about his game?

DARREN CLARKE: I just arrived today. I haven't spoken to him so I don't know.

Q. The forecast is for some bad weather to come in. How big a factor could that be? Would that be in Europe's favor?

DARREN CLARKE: Depends on how severe. If it gets as bad as it was third round of the Open, then it's nobody's favorite. But if it's windy and wet, I would imagine with us having played the course a little bit more, that may tip things slightly in our favor, because especially in bad weather, locale definitely comes into play a little bit more.

GORDON SIMPSON: Enjoy the week.

End of FastScripts....

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