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February 27, 2000

Darren Clarke


NELSON LUIS: Darren, congratulations on a great victory in the World Golf Championships - Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship. It must be very exciting for you. Why don't you go ahead and give us some opening thoughts on your first victory on American soil.

DARREN CLARKE: I've come over here quite a few times and haven't played that well. So to come over and play as well as I have done in match play, it's fantastic. To play as solid as I did today against Tiger, the best player in the world, it's a great feeling at the moment.

Q. Darren, yesterday Chubby was saying that he thought that this was what you needed to show yourself, not only you're a talented player, but could actually be one of the best players in the world. Is that how you feel?

DARREN CLARKE: Definitely. I've had the potential these past few years, but never actually finished jobs off and what have you. A lot of opportunities to win tournaments slip through my fingers. But today, I think I was 11-under par for the whole play. And I played very solid and hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, which was going to be tough to beat. To play as well as that under the circumstances today, against the best player in the world, is certainly very gratifying.

Q. To win something like this, this World Golf Championship event has got to be a great confidence booster. How much of a bonus is it in match play and against Tiger?

DARREN CLARKE: Of course anytime to win a tournament is fantastic, but to play against Tiger, No. 1 player in the world, and to come out on top, it's a great feeling. And the 64 best players in the world were here this week. And to come out No. 1, it's great.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know, I didn't set any goals at the start of the week. I just wanted to come and play as well as I could, and probably get through two or three rounds would have been pretty good.

Q. Was conditioning or stamina any kind of problem today?

DARREN CLARKE: I'm going -- you're getting back to my workout in the gym again.

Q. Was it hot out there?

DARREN CLARKE: Put it this way, I didn't want to walk back down the hill again to lunchtime to go down and walk back up. I walked far enough. I managed to do not too bad.

Q. Darren, you were, as I understand, a very good match-play player as an amateur and won four tournaments, the Spanish and the Irish, and yet as a pro, I think your record coming into this event was 1 and 6 in match play?

DARREN CLARKE: It was better than that, because Dunhill Cup is not there. My record at Dunhill Cup is pretty good, as well.

Q. Was there any reason you were so good as an amateur, and not quite as good as a pro?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. But obviously the standards are so much different, so much better in match play and the professional ranks than an amateur. I grew up with it in playing that format, and now I think I've got back to that level of comfort, playing match play again, that I had as an amateur.

Q. You've had success in Europe, but is this as good as you've ever played?

DARREN CLARKE: Consistently, yes. I can play pretty good whenever I'm on. But I'd say, day in and day out, this week has been very good.

Q. What was going through your mind when you birdied 4 out of 5 holes and you walk off the 8th green 4-up?

DARREN CLARKE: To birdie the next four out of five.

Q. Were you almost expecting Tiger to mount some kind of challenge?

DARREN CLARKE: Most definitely. It doesn't get to this level without good reason. I was expecting Tiger to do a couple of special things and have a go at me. 4-up, by no means, I wasn't taking that as -- I wasn't relaxing any.

Q. Were you shocked at all after his bunker shot on 12?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really. It was -- what was he? 3-down at that stage? He tried to play it. He had to try to get it close, because I wasn't making any worse than five. He had to try to get it close to get back in the game again. And he tried to flop it out very softly, because hardly any green to work with. When you play that type of shot, there's always a risk that you're going to leave it in there. Things like that happen, especially in match play.

Q. After No. 6 in the morning, did you miss a green after that?

DARREN CLARKE: You probably know the stats better than I would. I don't know. I wasn't trying to, anyway. (Laughter.) I think I missed 15 this morning. I was just off the edge of it.

Q. You're still going to Dubai?


Q. After this morning, you got off to such a good start. Was there a putt somewhere along the way where you lost your stroke a little bit?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really, I just lost my -- when Tiger holed the putt this morning, he holed it out, about 25-footer. I struggled for the rest of my back nine this morning, but fortunately I got it back this afternoon.

Q. Darren, how important was the first hole this afternoon? Tiger was about 50 yards outside you.

DARREN CLARKE: To be perfectly honest with you, I think Tiger's length was to my benefit this week, because he was able to reach the par-5s easier than I was. But it gave me an opportunity to be hitting into the greens first, into the par-4s. And because my iron play was pretty strong, I was hitting the ball close. So as soon as I got it in there close, that resulted on pressure in Tiger to get it back inside or as close as. So I think his length actually helped me.

Q. On the first, it seemed to be very important to get away to the start you did?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I was expecting Tiger to come out pretty hot this afternoon, and I just wanted to make sure that I didn't let him get away from me.

Q. Was the first 18 being all square, was that really a major victory for you, now you've reduced it to a 18-hole match?

DARREN CLARKE: Not particularly, no. Not at all. I was playing every bit as well as Tiger was this morning. So all square was probably a decent result.

Q. Did the money keep going through your mind?

DARREN CLARKE: No, not at all. Not at all.

Q. What will you do with it, Darren?

DARREN CLARKE: Spend it (laughter.) I won't keep it for too long. My wife won't, anyway. I don't know. But as regards to that, no, I was here with the world ranking points and Order of Merit points, and all that type of stuff. That's what I was thinking of. The money is only a result of how well I play.

Q. Butch said that he thought this victory would motivate you to improve your work ethic?

DARREN CLARKE: What are you trying to get at? Are you trying to say I've a fat gut? Is that what you're trying to say?

Q. Seriously, do you feel that this will do something for you? Is this going to make you go to the gym? Is it going to make you work harder on the game than you have been?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, yes, and yes. I think I have to get in better shape. I've been lax over the winter, and I'm going to get onto a program and get myself into pretty good shape. I was surprised actually at how strong I felt this afternoon. I didn't think I'd feel as well as I did. I was okay today. I got away with it once. And if and when the position arises again, in the last round of a major, I'd like to be in a little better shape.

Q. Did he kind of get under your skin when he didn't get that 12, 15 --?

DARREN CLARKE: He was messing. It was all right, though, fine. He was messing with me.

Q. What did you say there?

DARREN CLARKE: I said: "Are we playing medal?"

Q. Does this heighten your expectations for the rest of the season?

DARREN CLARKE: For me to play this well, this is so weird for me to play this well early in the season. I've never done this before. And over the winter, I kept hitting balls and playing and practicing, and doing all that sort of stuff. It's a fantastic way to start the season with a win against the best player in the world. To move up in the world ranks, to lead the Order of Merit, there's so many things that will drive me on even more. It's a great boost for me.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DARREN CLARKE: Pretty messed up, because I was trying to get too technical, trying to hit the ball perfect all the time, and that's not achievable.

Q. Did you and Chubby, you and Billy actually discuss being joking in the match, or was it just happening?

DARREN CLARKE: No, it was -- you mean between myself and my opposition --.

Q. Was it a tactic?

DARREN CLARKE: Oh, no, not at all.

Q. Useful, though?

DARREN CLARKE: No, not at all.

Q. Any instructions Darren, regarding celebration drinks?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know yet. I'm just off the golf course, so I don't know. I haven't had time to think or do anything yet.

Q. Darren, Butch said that you didn't really need his help that much on the range this morning. How many swings actually do you think he watched of yours, before you went off the first hole?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. He was standing over with Tiger and after about half an hour, I said: "I'm okay, Butch. I don't need anything. I'm fine." He was obviously taking a look, just keeping an eye on us.

Q. Did he actually come back and --?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, he did.

Q. About how long?

DARREN CLARKE: 15, 20 minutes, whatever.

Q. You said he talked confidence with you?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, that's what he does most of the time.

Q. Did you need it?

DARREN CLARKE: It's always good to have --.

Q. Reminders.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, especially coming from somebody with Butch's stature.

Q. Some players mature later than others. Would this be the case with you, in terms of your golf game?

DARREN CLARKE: Hopefully. I'm not that old yet. I'm only 31, so I'm not that bad. But hopefully this will be a stepping-stone for me now, and I can go on and improve.

Q. Is knocking Monty off the Order of Merit perch that he's been on all these years, is that a direct goal of yours, or is it playing well?

DARREN CLARKE: Playing well. If I play well, then all the rest of the things come along, and that's what's happened this week.

Q. Pretty good start, isn't it?


Q. Could you compare your game today to your game against Chubby last Sunday?

DARREN CLARKE: I played just as well, and he hit too many shots.

Q. Butch said when you went to see him in Vegas recently, he said it looked like you'd been in the pubs and eating a lot.

DARREN CLARKE: I told him to go and get whatever -- go and get lost.

End of FastScripts....

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