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November 7, 2000

Darren Clarke


GORDON SIMPSON: All right. Darren, European No. 1 as we speak. Will it still be that way on Sunday? How do you feel about this weekend?

DARREN CLARKE: The course is in really good shape. The rough isn't as severe as last week. I played well here in the past, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing again.

GORDON SIMPSON: What were your thoughts then on Sunday afternoon? You played really well. Maybe you found one too good for you.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I played exactly the way I wanted to play. Made a tee shot at the 17. That's the game. Same scenario again this week. Hopefully, I'll hit a better tee shot when I need to.

Q. Presumably, this is the position you want to be in? You're No. 1.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, exactly. Went last week, trying to have a good week to give myself a chance to win. Same thing again this week. If I can give myself a chance to win on Sunday, then that will be it. That's why I'm here.

Q. Given that Tiger Woods is here this week and has dominated the season and all year around, Monty said he's almost impossible to beat.

DARREN CLARKE: He says a lot of things.

Q. And is that the case, now Tiger is here?

DARREN CLARKE: Not necessarily. So obviously Tiger's record this year has been fantastic. But you would have expected him to win last week, and he didn't. So you don't really know what's going to happen.

Q. How do you like this course here? How do you like the changes?

DARREN CLARKE: I do like the golf course, yes. It's the same scenario as last week, as well. I played well here in the past. You tend to like it. The changes, they've improved the course. No. 7 is definitely a better par 5 than it was a par 4. The 3rd, a little bit longer, bigger green. I think that's an improvement as well. What else have they done? Something else.

Q. The green on 17.

DARREN CLARKE: Green is -- 17 is still the same. I won't say whether that's good or bad. On the 2nd, they've moved the tee back, 30 yards back. 3-wood or driver. But all in all, the improvements are good.

Q. Your record here, you haven't won, have you?

DARREN CLARKE: No, I haven't won, but I've finished second. I finished once behind Monty. I do like the golf course. It's a little bit funky in places, but it's good.

Q. Have you sensed this week that you're looking at the challenge of two levels, to win the honor of the tournament and to win Order of Merit?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know about that. I'll see. I'm going to try to play the same way as last week, to go out and play. If I had played my best, then whatever happens, I can't control that. I can only control what I do. If I play well enough, give myself a chance to win, if I do that or if I win, then that's great. If not, I've tried my best, and I can't do any more than that.

Q. Did it hurt not winning on Sunday? How did you feel?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, it did hurt not winning, because I put myself in the position. I finished runner-up again. To finish runner-up in a tournament as big as The Volvo Masters is a bit disappointing. At the same time, I take a lot of positives out of that. Where my game was three months ago, I couldn't have competed at Montecastillo last week. As I said, on Sunday I played exactly the way I wanted to: Hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens, made very, very few mistakes, bar one.

Q. Last week you talked about how the mood you were in is much the same as it's ever been at Match Play. How do you get in that mood?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. If I knew that, I'd be much better off. I don't know. I'm just very comfortable with the way I'm hitting the ball. Sometimes my golf game dictates my attitude. It should be the other way round.

Q. Which would be more important: To win the Order of Merit or to win the tournament?

DARREN CLARKE: It would be great to win the Order of Merit. But in terms of world ranking, to win the tournament would be bigger than the Order of Merit. That's not demeaning the Order of Merit in any way, but in terms of long-term goal, in getting up as high in the world rankings as I can, there's more points there.

Q. With winning these major things, you grow in stature obviously in our eyes, in the world's eyes. Within yourself, does it make it easier when you go out or not?

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, it does. Because I know that I can play under pressure. The bigger tournaments, the more pressure there is. I feel more comfortable with the situations I'm putting myself in. Albeit, I didn't manage to win last week. I gave myself an opportunity. If I keep on giving myself opportunities, sooner or later one's going to come my way. If I feel more comfortable, then I'll put myself in that position more often. So yes.

Q. Do you ever still think about money at all? Does it ever come into the equation?

DARREN CLARKE: Only in terms of where I finish, but not thinking from a financial point of view. Some of you may disagree. But not really. It's never been something that I think about an awful lot. I just spend whatever's in the bank (inaudible).

Q. It's a bonus for you I suppose if you win two more events. That's pretty serious money.

DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, as I've already said, I'm trying to get as far up the world rankings as I can, whether that's playing better, being more consistent, winning more tournaments. If I do that, then that takes care of more things. I'm looking more towards performing. The money side is obviously a huge bonus.

Q. I understand from the press today that you signed a letter to Ken Schofield asking for the books (of the European Tour) to be audited. Can you tell me why you signed that?

DARREN CLARKE: Everybody else has. I'm not -- the guys came and asked me would I sign it, and I believe there's about 50 signatures on there, and they said: "Well, it's not just" (inaudible), "just to look at everything." I said yes. I looked at all the other names that are on there. There's bigger names on there. So if people are on there of bigger stature than myself, I signed it. I think I'm doing the right thing.

Q. Who asked you?

DARREN CLARKE: I can't remember who asked me. I can't remember who asked. Maybe it was a couple people who asked me, different names. I can't remember.

Q. What's the best thing about Valderrama? What's the worst thing?

DARREN CLARKE: The best thing is probably the condition of the course. We don't play courses in as good a condition as Valderrama. The greens are fantastic. The fairways are like hitting off greens. The worst thing is that there's a couple of doglegs where trees come more into play. You can get a tee shot into the middle of the fairway and have no second shot. No. 18, for example, you get a good tee shot there and have no shot. You can get a good tee shot in the 2nd and have no shot because of the big tree. But that's part and parcel of the golf course. That's just the way it is. There's a couple of trees where you get into one or two bunkers. If you miss them in the wrong ones, then you've got to negotiate the bunkers, but there's trees there as well. So from that point of view, it's quite tricky.

Q. Sorry to pursue this. Sometimes when people come up to you and ask you to sign something, you say, "Oh, yeah, I'll sign that." Was it more of that or you having a general concern?

DARREN CLARKE: It just seemed from the general consensus of what I've read, people who had already signed it, I thought it was the right thing to do.

Q. Has it been a concern of yours though?

DARREN CLARKE: Not particularly. I haven't been made aware of many of the statements or whatever. I'm here trying to play golf, and I leave things -- leave running the Tour to people who know what they're doing. I don't want to run the Tour. I just want to play golf. It hasn't been a particular concern of mine.

Q. What's your views on the Americans who didn't make it here?

DARREN CLARKE: A little bit disappointing. I think the whole idea behind the World Golf Championships was to gather the best players in the world together on a more regular basis. That's what they're trying to achieve, and that's what they have achieved for the most part. I'm just a little bit disappointed there's not more that are here. I can understand why. They're playing for huge prize money in America. The conception of the World Golf Championships is $1 million first prize. In America, they're playing -- not playing for $1 million all the time, but the prize money's gone up, so it's not quite what it was three or four years ago.

Q. The prize money here obviously is to try to get the Americans. Still, it isn't enough. Is there any way that you ever thought of where we can have something outside of America that they would come to?

DARREN CLARKE: The thing, they're not playing for that much money. $1 million isn't, to them, a huge amount of money. It's a huge amount of money to everybody else. But to them, they're playing two or three tournaments, they're playing for whatever. I think the only way to guarantee that everybody played, just probably through increasing prize money. We've already gone to $1 million. If it was $2 million, maybe then that would get them. I still think it's fantastic we're playing for $5 million this week. It was an awful big purse for this side, the Europeans. We're fortunate enough to be here at home.

Q. I asked Tiger the same question. Do you think if they don't come then the next 11 or 12 in the world rankings would take their place? They'd love to be playing.

DARREN CLARKE: I think, yeah. I think that they should just see who's playing, see who's not. Because then it gives the people behind an opportunity to play and get more ranking points to get into the top 20 or top 50 -- not top 20, but move them to the top, which everybody strives for.

Q. If the names of Seve, Faldo, Langer had not been on that list, would you have thought very carefully?

DARREN CLARKE: Probably. I probably would. With those names on the list, they've been about here much longer than I have. I think it's the right thing to do then.

Q. Can we be clear about this. Does this imply, a suggestion, that some of this isn't quite right, what you're asking for? I mean, is there a feeling that something may have been missing or that something hasn't been done right in the past?

DARREN CLARKE: Not that I'm aware of. The thing is the guys just want to -- I don't know if they think things have gone wrong. I think they just want to give them control and see what the result is. I don't think they're necessarily saying the money's gone amiss and all that sort of stuff. I think they just want to see what's going where.

Q. Don't you see that in the Tour figures every year anyway?

DARREN CLARKE: That, I don't know, because I don't really look at them. I don't really pay that much attention to them. Chubby (Chandler, his manager) tells me how much I have spent at the end of the year, and that's enough.

End of FastScripts….

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