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February 25, 2000

Darren Clarke


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Darren you've taken some good scalps this year, Azinger, O'Meara, and now your practice partner, Bjorn. Things are going very nicely.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I'm playing pretty solid. I made a few more mistakes today than I did yesterday, but I'm still playing -- hitting the ball very solid. Hitting a lot of fairways and a lot of greens.

GORDON SIMPSON: As we were saying yesterday, you're getting into the tournament now. So the last 8, anything can happen, I presume.

DARREN CLARKE: Anything can happen all week, because -- as some results have shown. But if you get this far, there's no reason you can't go the whole way.

Q. Is there a particular reason why you're playing so well this week, after last week?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really. Butch has been here, and what have you, and it's just early season, and I've been swinging a lot better this time of the year than I have in the past.

Q. What sort of things did he say to you?

DARREN CLARKE: Just the usual bad habits, all the same ones keep coming back all the time.

Q. Who do you play tomorrow?

DARREN CLARKE: I play Hal Sutton, I think.

Q. What's your opinion of Hal?

DARREN CLARKE: Hal's -- he's a great player. We played each other in the singles at Brookline. And I'm looking forward to playing against him again tomorrow.

Q. Is that going to be an added edge tomorrow?

DARREN CLARKE: Not an edge, no. He played better than I did at Brookline. And he won. I'd like to play it better tomorrow than I did on the Sunday at Brookline.

Q. Does the Ryder Cup experience help in this sort of a format?

DARREN CLARKE: Most definitely. We don't have the opportunity to play match play very often. And I think the Ryder Cups are very good grounding for this week.

Q. Is this shaping up as one of those, sort of like a mini Ryder Cup, here?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really. I think it's pretty good from a European's point of view that we've got three guys through. This stage last year, we weren't in the same position, and it's good to see the European guys coming through. This isn't the team format. Every guy is playing for their own, so it's different that way.

Q. The money is a little different, too. How rusty were you when you got here from Riviera last week?

DARREN CLARKE: Pretty rusty. I lost myself out there a few times. It's always the same at the start of the year. We start our Tour in Europe later than you guys start here, anytime in February most of the guys are going to be rusty.

Q. Was it good or bad for you missing the cut as far as -- you had the weekend -- how did you spend the weekend and the time since then?

DARREN CLARKE: I came down on Saturday and played the course on Saturday and been practicing since. My manager, I played with him on Saturday and he stuffed me. 6 and 5 and he stuffed me.

Q. Actually in a weird way missing the cut, did it help prepare you for this?

DARREN CLARKE: It gave me a little more time to come down and work on a few things.

Q. Had you ever played this course before last year's tournament?

DARREN CLARKE: No. I think it's like anything, I think when you get to know the golf course a little better, you tend to perform a little better. We go and play courses in Europe where we keep going back year after year, the scores come down. The Americans know the course here, and I think the more you play the more you get to know some pieces about it.

Q. How does the tension compare this week to the Ryder Cup?

DARREN CLARKE: I think the Ryder Cup is an awful lot more.

Q. How is it this week? Do you get tense, or because you've been through the Ryder Cup experience you don't?

DARREN CLARKE: Of course you get a little bit tense, because you want to play well and you want to win for obvious reasons. But as regards the Ryder Cup, you're playing for the team. Here you're playing for yourself. If you make a mistake for yourself, so be it, it's not affecting the other guys.

Q. Does it make it slightly easier and more enjoyable, than it had been if you hadn't been through the Ryder Cup experience?

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah. I think the Ryder Cup experience is not something you can easily discredit without having been there and playing on it. It's a little bit easier for me, because I've played Ryder Cup, I'd say.

End of FastScripts...

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