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February 26, 2000

Darren Clarke


GORDON SIMPSON: Congratulations, Darren. A week ago it was a missed cut at Riviera, and now you have a chance to win the million dollars tomorrow. What do you put it down to?

DARREN CLARKE: Just hard work of putting a lot of time on the range over the weekend. Match play, you need a little bit of luck at certain times, and I've had that as well this week.

GORDON SIMPSON: You seemed to play pretty well today, ten birdies and a bogey in each round.

DARREN CLARKE: I'm pretty solid. And hitting fairways and greens. If you do that, I give myself birdie opportunities. And knocking a couple of putts in.

Q. What have you and Chubby played for last weekend?

DARREN CLARKE: I paid him $175, and he gladly took it off me. 6 and 5, stuffing it, yes. On the other course here, yes.

GORDON SIMPSON: How's the stamina? 36 holes a day for the weekend.

DARREN CLARKE: I don't even know how I'm going to cope tomorrow. I've got to play very well.

Q. Are you going to bed early tonight?

DARREN CLARKE: No. Just goes to show after all that hard work I've put in the gym this winter -- my right arm is definitely stronger.

Q. Tiger said he and you were hitting balls in Vegas about a week or so ago. Since then, has -- when you were watching him hit balls then, did you have any inkling that he'd be playing the way he's been playing?

DARREN CLARKE: Tiger is the world's No. 1. He's the best player in the world, that's pretty obvious to everybody. We get on pretty well with each other. We sort of have a go at each other all the time. But because I'm working with Butch as well, I've got to know him pretty well this last year and a half. He's a really good guy. He's a quality player. And I'm going to have to play particularly well tomorrow, I think, to have a chance to beat him.

Q. You mentioned the work with Butch. How is your game different now than it was a year ago when you made a quick exit here?

DARREN CLARKE: If I knew that I would have been here a bit longer last year. I don't know. It goes up and down. Butch has been working on my basics more than anything else. We all tend to fall back into our bad habits, and just ball position, just basics, nothing in particular.

Q. In your last year as an amateur, you had a very, very good record in match play. Over your professional career, it's been spotty. Is there any reason for that?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. But obviously the standard between amateur stuff and professional stuff is different. Anybody comes along this week, you're playing against the best players in the world. If your game isn't on, you're not going to win. The standard has risen considerably. I think the Ryder Cup experience is invaluable when it comes to tournaments as big as this. So it's just a natural progression, I think.

Q. Darren, some players have mentioned the intimidation factor when they see Tiger's name on the board. I gather that's not a problem with you?

DARREN CLARKE: No. No. We have a bit of fun. I've been joking with him all this week that I'm 1 and 0 playing in match play. Because Lee Westwood and I beat Tiger and David at the Ryder Cup. We've been joking about that this week. It will be more looking forward to it as opposed to intimidation.

Q. When you play against a guy like Tiger, do you think about, like he was 8-under through 12 today. Do you think: "I've got to go out and make birdie, birdie, birdie"?

DARREN CLARKE: Match play is not like that. Match play is a totally different game. You can win holes with pars or bogeys. That's not likely to happen tomorrow, obviously. It's a totally different game. I'm going to play the golf course; there's only going to be one winner. I've got to play my own game tomorrow.

Q. You said earlier that you had had -- you were chatting some with Sutton on your first match today. Tiger can get pretty serious. Will you try to chat him up at all during the match?

DARREN CLARKE: I'll slag him off if he doesn't. I think he'll be fine, just whatever. That's a pretty serious thing we're playing for. If that's the case, so be it.

Q. Did you have wild dreams when you set out as a pro as to what you might do in the game?


Q. What were you thinking about?

DARREN CLARKE: Just go play and see how good I can become, that's all. Nothing really.

GORDON SIMPSON: How far are you down that road of fulfilling that potential?

DARREN CLARKE: I've still got a lot of room for improvement in a lot of areas of my game, and hence the reason I'm working with Butch to try to make those better, to become a more consistent worldwide player.

Q. Does it ever strike you that with Fred Daly, you're an honorary member of Portrush, does that sort of ring any bells for you in terms of what you might like to change?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really. I've just got to keep on working at my game and trying to improve as much as I can.

Q. Darren, do you buy the theory that it might be more difficult to beat him in a 36-hole match than an 18, or do you not agree with that?

DARREN CLARKE: I said at the start of the week that anybody can beat anybody over 18 holes. And over a 36-hole match, you're more likely to get the best player will win. And obviously if you look at the rankings, Tiger is No. 1 and I'm No. 19. Hopefully I can play well enough tomorrow and we can have a really good game. So I'd say his chances would be increased over 36 holes. That's the way it should work.

Q. Butch said you promised him you were going to go on a workout regimen next year. Does that still hold true?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes. I have to. He's calling me all sorts of names. I have to go into the gym, unfortunately. It doesn't appeal to me much, but I have to do it.

Q. I thought you'd filled your garage with all sorts of --?

DARREN CLARKE: We have a gym at home, yes, gathering dust.

Q. Darren, getting back to the Duval match today, what were the turning points as far as you can see?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know if there was any turning points, really. I tried to focus and just play as well as I could. I know David very well, so he's a quality player. Today, he wasn't quite on top of his game this afternoon. And he wasn't hitting the ball that close to the flag to put me under pressure. I was trying to hit greens and knock in a few putts, which I managed to do.

Q. Darren, there were passages when you must have felt you played as well today as you've played for some time. You agree with that?

DARREN CLARKE: I'm playing very solid. After my first round against Paul Azinger, I said my swing felt good, my scoring has been better the last couple of days. I think I'm swinging pretty well. I'm hitting the ball pretty solid, and I don't think I've missed many greens.

Q. One of the people with your group said he thought there was only one hole up to the 15th where you had not had to play first. Sorry, where David had played first on every hole.

DARREN CLARKE: I was just trying to do the best I could do out there.

Q. Were you hot under the collar at all this year?

DARREN CLARKE: No, not yet. There's time left, though. (Laughter.)

Q. Have you ever felt or been intimidated on a golf course by anybody or anything?

DARREN CLARKE: Probably. Probably. When I just turned professional and come out and started to play, and obviously all the guys you've been watching on TV and all that stuff. But of late, no.

Q. Describe your game. What's your strength, what's your weakness, what do you need to work on, what's your forte?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know, really. There's days I play really well, and there's days I don't play very well. I'm very much -- if I'm on, I'll play very well; and if not, then I won't. So probably the strength would be my driving, and weakness would probably be short irons, probably. But I'm working away obviously on that and trying to get better with everything.

Q. What did you learn from Tiger, what are you looking for?

DARREN CLARKE: What do you mean?

Q. In terms of any technical things that he does that you might want to do?

DARREN CLARKE: I'm never going to be as skinny as he is or as light. I just do whatever Butch tells me to do and hopefully that works. And then Chubby (Chandler) sticks his words in there again. And says do this and that.

Q. How does that work? Like you're at a public range and you've got a teacher going up-and-down. You get your hour and a half, and he gets his hour and a half?

DARREN CLARKE: Obviously it's more difficult for me to see Butch than it is for Tiger, because I live thousands of miles over that way. Butch watches the European Tour in the mornings, and if he sees anything in particular, he gives me a call as soon as I'm finished, and says do this and that.

Q. When you are together, like in Vegas, do you have your own half a day, individually?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah. He'll be with Tiger for a while and then can come in and spend a bit of time with me, and back to Tiger. That sort of stuff.

Q. Darren, your good mate has indicated he won't play this event next year.

DARREN CLARKE: I have yet to decide.

Q. If you were defending --?

DARREN CLARKE: If I was defending I would.

Q. Duval has a reputation for being intimidating in a match play situation. Little things like making Garcia putt 16-inch putts. Did he ever get under your skin at all?

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

Q. You just don't pay any attention to that stuff?

DARREN CLARKE: No, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. We were chatting away out there.

Q. Has Heather started spending it?

DARREN CLARKE: No, not yet. The shops are closed.

Q. Darren, given how well Tiger played this afternoon, what do you think it will take to beat him tomorrow?

DARREN CLARKE: Can you give him a kick before we go out and play, something like that? I don't know, I have to be on top of my game. I've got to hit a lot of fairways, greens, and hole putts. You never know with match play. It's that type of game, that you don't know what's going to happen.

Q. You probably know that Tiger wears -- when he's in contention for a tournament, he always wears red. Were you washing that shirt?

DARREN CLARKE: I have no clean shirts yet. I've had reservations on planes every night this week, and haven't managed any so far. I have to use one tomorrow. I don't know what color I'll come up with tomorrow.

Q. Was there any sequence of shots or particularly good shots that you had today that made the difference in the match?

DARREN CLARKE: Nothing really. I had a par from maybe 10. I hit a nice 6-iron in there to about three feet , I made I birdie to go 2-up. It gave me possibly an edge to keep on going.

Q. Darren, when you play really big occasions, such as the Ryder Cup and obviously tomorrow, can you look back at things like the third round of the Open and learn from that? And if so, what are the things you have learned from those occasions that you can apply now?

DARREN CLARKE: I shot 67 in the third round of the Open. It doesn't make any difference if someone takes seven or eight in a particular hole, it's only one hole. So of course, experience is good. I think as I said earlier there, I think the Ryder Cup experience is invaluable in a situation like this. But I think because it's match play, it's a totally different game and you have to play shot by shot, because the momentum and things change -- can change within a hole. The whole game can turn around within a hole. It's a totally different thing than anything else.

GORDON SIMPSON: We won't keep you from the gym any longer.

End of FastScripts...

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