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August 24, 2000

Darren Clarke


GORDON SIMPSON: Round of 66. Your low round at this course. Surprise, surprise, there's someone in front of you, as usual.

DARREN CLARKE: Get used to seeing Tiger's name up there every week. But another situation where we're all going to have to play very well again and see what happens.

GORDON SIMPSON: Clearly, your game is in good shape as that score suggests.

DARREN CLARKE: I hit the ball reasonably well today. On this course, the greens, as quick as they are, and with the slopes on them, that help made it a lot easier.

GORDON SIMPSON: Details on the birdies.

DARREN CLARKE: The 2nd I hit driver, 3-wood to 20 feet, 2-putts. The 3rd I hit driver and 9-iron to eight feet. Bogey at 7, I hit a poor tee shot. 4-iron short front right; chipped it up and lipped out. No. 8, I had a good tee shot. I hit driver, 9-iron to about 15 feet and holed it. 14, I hit driver, middle of the fairway, pitching wedge to about six feet; holed it. 17, I hit 3-wood, 9-iron to about three feet, and holed it.

Q. Is this as solid a round as you've played here?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, here. Definitely.

Q. Not just the score?

DARREN CLARKE: Overall, it was definitely very good. I've always struggled on the greens here before. My putting line has not been as good as it was before as it was today.

Q. You said the other day that you liked it here, but you never really had gotten the better of the course. What was it today? The putting?

DARREN CLARKE: Probably. But I think when we keep coming back to venues, courses, there's a lot to be said for knowing the golf course. I think this is my third time here, and I've got to know the golf course. I know where all the really bad places are, so I try and stay away from those. You just get to know which putts are a little bit more difficult and what side and what-have-you, and that only comes from playing a regular event on the same course.

Q. I heard you say greenside that you and Billy were wondering if Tiger might even shoot 60. When you see his name on the board, do you change the way you play?

DARREN CLARKE: Not at all. It doesn't make any difference who is on the top of the leaderboard. I'm trying to play as well as I can and shoot the lowest score as I can. It just so happens to be that Tiger is up there every week and we're always chasing him.

Q. You're a big hitter. Does this course leave the driver in your hand? And how often did you use it today? And how did you drive the ball today?

DARREN CLARKE: A lot of questions there. I drove the ball reasonably well. I think this course definitely puts a premium on using the driver -- because of the length of the par 4s; you have got to use it. And very important to keep it in the fairway; albeit, the rough is not as quite as bad as it has been the past few years. But, you know, we can get 7-, 8-, 9-irons out of it; whereas, before you just chip back on the fairway. But still huge -- to try and stop the ball, you must be on the fairway to try and stop it coming in to some of the greens.

Q. Where was Tiger when you first saw him on the leaderboard?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know, 6(-under) or something like that. Billy said: "He's off again." I said: "Thanks." (Laughter.)

GORDON SIMPSON: If you had gone through on Sunday to win, can you imagine yourself coming straight out and playing like that?

DARREN CLARKE: I wouldn't like to tell you where I would be.

Q. When you were here the other day, you made a funny aside. I think it was a question about a personal trainer?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes -- I'm in peak physical condition.

Q. But the next -- that night, driving home, I'm listening to one of the national sports radio networks, and they were talking about golf and mentioned you as a guy who is not Tiger.

DARREN CLARKE: That's very diplomatic. (Laughter.) You can say it.

Q. I thought you said something like: "Oh, my, no." Is too much made of that?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. People have different views on it. Obviously, if you're playing continuously and have conditions like last week, and indeed a little bit today, it may be better for certain people to be in better shape than others. But as I said the other day, I'm not that bad. I'm sweating up a little bit, but I'm not that bad.

Q. Not only is Tiger playing well today after winning last week, but Sunday was especially, you know, a trying day for him and Bob May. When you've won in the past and played the following week, what's been the toughest part for you to get grinding again, right away?

DARREN CLARKE: If things do not go right as well as they should, I find personally it very difficult to keep on trying to get up-and-down all the time. But when I won before, I haven't played the following week. In one of the biggest tournaments like this, a World Golf Championships, I haven't, or a major or what have you.

Q. When you played Tiger at La Costa, the key to -- I think you would agree -- is that you were hitting the ball first and inside him on most of the greens. Now, Bob May did that last Sunday.

DARREN CLARKE: I watched the whole thing apart from the playoff.

Q. Did you see parallels there in the way that Bob was attacking the flag and pressurizing him all the time?

DARREN CLARKE: I think, as I said the other day, I think Bob May played fantastic. He kept on hitting close all of the time. He just hit it straight at the flag, and he's got to be commended. It was a fantastic performance. But in saying that, Bob holed a lot of short putts because he hit it so close. But Tiger holed a lot of 10-footers and 15-footers and what-have-you; and you know, he just put them straight into the middle hole after hole and fortunately whenever I was playing him, he didn't do that against me. I was very lucky.

Q. So that was essentially the difference?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I would imagine so. But he hit the ball very well also, but he also made all the putts that he had to do, which he does on a regular basis these did I days.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DARREN CLARKE: That's a very naughty question.

Q. (Inaudible.).

DARREN CLARKE: I do find the gym occasionally. I'm about the same weight -- I'm the same weight now as I was three years ago. I was never that skinny, I'd have to say, but I'm the same now as I was three years ago.

Q. Do you think Tiger has a big advantage on this golf course, given the things you've said in the past, earlier in the interview about length and hitting the golf ball?

DARREN CLARKE: He has a huge advantage on every golf course he plays. Because of his length, he's hitting a lot shorter clubs into the greens than the rest of us are. And as I mentioned earlier, with the flags tucked away, it's much easier to go at them with shorter irons than longer ones. Last week on 17 in regulation play, whenever Tiger had a little sand wedge into 17, you know, it was a flag that very few people could go at when they got in there with an 8-iron, where he only had 98 yards and hit sand iron in there very close.

Q. As Tiger continues to do things, is there any sense on your part that your win over him at La Costa is looking better all the time?

DARREN CLARKE: I told him that. I told him as soon as I won the Open, I phoned him and said left a message: "The better you play, the better it's making me look. So keep on going." I left it on his voice mail. (Laughing.)

GORDON SIMPSON: We'll let you off to the fitness trailer. Thanks very much.

End of FastScripts....

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