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July 19, 2002

Darren Clarke


STEWART McDOUGAL: Darren Clarke today 67, four under par. 3 under for the Championship. Darren, you're back in contention. How does it feel?

DARREN CLARKE: Good. Yesterday I had a pretty frustrating day. I didn't play particularly well and I didn't putt particularly well. So 72 was a pretty good score for me yesterday. I knew I had to go out and play well this morning to try and get me into it and to shoot 67 to get 3 under for the tournament hopefully that is not going to be too far away at the end of the day.

Q. Why the improvement today?

DARREN CLARKE: After I spoke to you guys last night, I walked onto the putting green at 10 past 6, and walked off at ten past nine and was on at 6 o'clock this morning for another hour and a half and then went to the range and worked very hard with Peter Cowen on the putting green last night and then again this morning and a couple of things clicked into place.

Q. (PUTTS ARE NOW GOING IN) By changing what?

DARREN CLARKE: I was basically hitting -- on impact my right hand was breaking down, or my left hand was breaking down. I wasn't very solid at impact and we worked on hitting putts one-handed, and both hands, both left and right, and certainly today I think I hit one putt that ^ wasn't in the middle of the putter today, and whenever that's the case, my pace is a lot better. Believe me, with some of the pin positions we've got today, the pace has to be good.

Q. Does it all come down to putting in the championship?

DARREN CLARKE: Well, Muirfield is not a putting competition. It does a lot of weeks, but certainly this week that's certainly not the case, because it takes a lot of good shots to get in the position where you can make birdies. But certainly as far as I'm concerned if I can hole 10-footers or 15-footers, then I'm certainly going to be a lot more confident hitting the shots in than I otherwise would be.

Q. How long was that last putt on the last green?

DARREN CLARKE: It was a huge putt, because I putted nicely all day. I had a really good first putt. I thought I had a chance.

Q. And you nearly holed the first one?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes. I was in a difficult position, shall we say. I was delighted to knock that in because I would have been very disappointed. I missed a 5-footer on 17 for birdie. I had a really good putt there. I would have been disappointed to have made bogey on the last one.

Q. It would have been a big difference --(inaudible)?

DARREN CLARKE: Most definitely.

Q. Your concentration seemed to be very good. Did you hear that baby crying when you made that eagle putt?

DARREN CLARKE: What baby? I didn't hear anything at all, no.

Q. Given that you were 5 under for the round after 10 holes, are you disappointed now that you didn't score better yesterday?

DARREN CLARKE: Opportunities. But at Muirfield, you know there's always going to be tough holes coming up. With 5 under after 10, as you said, I was certainly hoping to finish better than four under, but it's a demanding golf course. Again, with some of the pin positions out there and some of the holes after that, it's very easy to make bogeys, never mind pars, so overall 67 is pretty good.

Q. Was the rain much of a problem?

DARREN CLARKE: Only if you went in the rough, which I did a few times. The rough as severe as it is, with it being wet as well, the clubs had no chance of going through it at all. It had a slim chance yesterday and no chance today.

Q. Did you like the fact it was pretty nasty when you came out?

DARREN CLARKE: I didn't mind it.

Q. What happened at 14?

DARREN CLARKE: 14, I tried to punch a 3-wood down the fairway and just turned it too much into the bunker. I hit a sand wedge out and pitching wedge onto 20 feet and two putts.

Q. This isn't a one-man contest, the (inaudible) --

DARREN CLARKE: You can answer that one, can't you? The golf course is going to be the winner this week. It's such a demanding test. It's very, very difficult. Whoever wins this week has to play fantastic golf, whoever it may be.

Q. What was your emotion at 10 past 6 last night and how did it compare to 9:15 this morning?

DARREN CLARKE: (Inaudible) decapitation again whenever I come off the golf course, but I managed to keep it in one piece. As the evening progressed, I certainly got a lot more comfortable. Sometimes I go onto the range or putting green and waste my time because I'm still quite frustrated at what I've done on the golf course, whereas last night after 10 minutes it was fine, and it was productive practice and sometimes I don't differentiate between the two.

Q. Was it the same putter?


Q. Was Colin there for the entire duration?

DARREN CLARKE: He was indeed. He missed dinner as well.

Q. Have you ever practiced that long before?

DARREN CLARKE: Much longer than that before.

Q. Is it wrong of us to be surprised that yesterday, when it seemed to be calmer, the scores were not quite as good as they seemed to be, are we wrong to be surprised?

DARREN CLARKE: Most definitely not. I couldn't answer that question either. Yesterday seemed to be a perfect day for scoring. Today it's not that nice out there and the pins are more difficult, and the scoring seems to be better. I couldn't give you a reason for that.

Q. Do you think it was just the first round; everybody not used to it?

DARREN CLARKE: Possibly. The golf course, there's an awful lot of course management involved here. Yesterday everybody was being a little too cautious, possibly. That would be the only thing that I could come up with, and today you probably see guys taking on a few more shots than they did yesterday. If the greens aren't that fast, as long as you don't hit it in a ridiculously bad pin position on most of the greens, you should be okay. If they were okay and you miss it on the wrong side, you have no chance, but with them being that fast, you can get away with one or two, but the other one, maybe the guy is going to be a little more aggressive.

Q. Were you the only one left on the putting green last night? When did you start and how quickly did they dwindle?

DARREN CLARKE: I was the last one off.

Q. For how long were you the last one?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know.

Q. Some time?


Q. When was the last time you were the last one off?

DARREN CLARKE: I do that quite frequently. Thank you very much.

Q. Are you training with Peter Cowen?


Q. (Inaudible)

DARREN CLARKE: March, April, something like that.

Q. And what caused that decision?

DARREN CLARKE: I wasn't able to see Butch as often as I would have wanted to because I wasn't over there that much and it just seemed a logical thing for me to do, to have Pete help me again.

Q. The clutch par on 12 (inaudible) --

DARREN CLARKE: It was a big putt on 10. I had a lot of good putts all day, but that was a good one to keep me going.

Q. (Inaudible) how do you feel about your chances now?

DARREN CLARKE: I think to give myself a really good chance I have got to improve my swing a little bit. I'm not quite hitting it as solidly as I would like. There were just one or two pure shots in there at the moment, and you can only get away with that for so long. So I have to improve my ball striking and keep my putting the way it is, and hopefully I will have a chance.

Q. A few more hours on the range?


Q. Nick Price said yesterday, (inaudible) much better than adding length. Do you agree with that (inaudible)?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I do. I think a lot of length has gone on the golf courses, because of that, it's changing the irons that we hit onto the greens. When we're hitting 5-irons on the greens that are designed to be hit by 7 or 8-irons then it makes it a little bit of -- a lot more luck involved as opposed to skill.

Q. The field is bunched at the moment, but if the wind arrives tomorrow, as forecasted, will that perhaps sort the championship out. Would that be something you would relish?

DARREN CLARKE: If the wind blows here, I would certainly think it's obviously going to play a lot more difficult. If that's the case, then I'm sure you won't see as many people bunched together at the top of the leader board.

Q. What's your strategy at this point? Do you now attack the course?

DARREN CLARKE: Just keep doing what I'm doing. As I just said there, if my ball striking improves, I may get a chance.

Q. How often has your ball striking improved in a mid-tournament championship before?

DARREN CLARKE: Regularly. I'm up one day and down the next. Nothing new.

Q. Were you more aggressive today than you were yesterday?

DARREN CLARKE: One or two shots I took different clubs on.

Q. More positive clubs?


Q. You were giving it more today than you were yesterday?

DARREN CLARKE: I hit more 3-woods off the tee as opposed to 2-irons.

Q. (Inaudible)?

Where were the particularly tough pin positions.

DARREN CLARKE: No. 2, No. 8, 11. No. 14 was just 14, and 15, and 18.

Q. How many putts did you have?

DARREN CLARKE: I think I had 27.

Q. Can you describe that first putt you had at 18?

DARREN CLARKE: I thought I holed it when I hit it. If it had been on a flat bit of green, it wouldn't have gone no more than a foot past the hole, if that.

Q. Where were you aiming?

DARREN CLARKE: I was aiming about eight foot left, up over the hill and down, and off the edge of a precipice and down there.

Q. When you are playing in a major, do you have to be more patient or more tolerant of the bad shots level head?

DARREN CLARKE: I have to be, yes.

Q. Do you find that --

DARREN CLARKE: Difficult, yes.

Q. Do you find that you're able to do that?

DARREN CLARKE: Occasionally, yes.

Q. Are you as volatile in day-to-day dealings or is it just the golf?

DARREN CLARKE: Just on the golf course. It brings out the best in me on the golf course.


End of FastScripts....

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