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September 23, 2006

Darren Clarke

Jose Maria Olazabal


GORDON SIMPSON: Just to remind you again, please, that this is a one hit interview room, and we'll finish after that.

Darren, gentlemen, two of the older heads shall we say on the team, but clearly there's life in the old dogs yet. Darren, tell us about your chip in to win that match.

DARREN CLARKE: It wasn't just a chip in. It was all day long, we played fantastic. They didn't quite hole as many putts as the chances they gave themselves and I come in there and hit a couple of decent shots and Tiger and Jim had just an off day on the greens. Neither of them could make anything at all and we holed a few and they didn't. It certainly was nice to chip in and finish the game on 16.

GORDON SIMPSON: What about your match with Sergio?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: We had another lovely day out there. We gelled together very well. He missed a few shots, and whenever he missed, I was there for him. We had a good start and then we made three crucial putts on 8, 9 and 10 and they missed the one on 10 especially, and they had another chance on 11 that they missed. I think that was the turning point. We got 4 up there, and, you know, we looked pretty much under control.

GORDON SIMPSON: Straight to questions, please.

Q. To both of you, Chris was just in here a couple of minutes ago and he said the difference so far has been putting. And this is something that we hear over and over and over again in match play, but why is it over the last five Ryder Cups or so, that you guys have putted so well, and they haven't?

DARREN CLARKE: Got no idea, really. You know, the best greens in the world are on the PGA TOUR week in and week out. I've got no right answer to that. You've got to hole some putts; some people hole them, some people don't hole them. If you hit it close, you're going to make more putts from hitting it closer than further away.

You guys have probably seen more golf on the television this week than we have because we've been out playing. Maybe the Europeans have been hitting it that little bit closer, I don't know. But the percentages, if you hit it closer you're going to hole more putts.

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: In '99, there was some players that made some putts on the U.S. Team, (laughter), and that's the last one I played. (Laughter).

DARREN CLARKE: The older you get, the less your memory fades, obviously.

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: I think it goes both ways to be honest. Sometimes we make a few putts and sometimes the U.S. Team makes them. You know, I don't think there is any reason for, you know, anybody to make more putts than the others. I think we're all pretty good putters, and, you know, it's what happens during the week.

Q. Are you surprised Tiger Woods isn't playing better?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: I haven't played with him. Darren knows.

DARREN CLARKE: We all have times whenever we're in sync and out of sync. And just at the minute, he's struggling a little bit with his timing. It happens to us all, and I think because Tiger's standards are so high, both from himself and all of you guys, what you expect from him, it's just highlighted more whenever he doesn't achieve those standards that we know he's all capable of.

He just struggled a little bit this morning and didn't knock any putts in, either. It happens to us all.

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: The other thing I would think of is that, you know, he's had an unbelievable stretch of tournaments lately. I mean, it's very hard to keep playing at that level week in and week out. Sooner or later you're going to have a little slump, and for whatever reason, it looks like he's not delivering the way he usually does. But, you know, nothing wrong with that.

Q. These are obviously difficult conditions for anybody to play golf in. Do you think as a team the European players are just dealing with that better than the Americans at the moment?

DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. I think we're used to these conditions on this golf course a little bit more than the Americans are.

But you know, it's part and parcel of the job. We play in bad weather, we play in it all around the world, but it just so happens that we've done it here on quite a few occasions because the tournament is here on this golf course, and I think that helps a little bit.

Q. Did you put a putting curse on the Americans for the experience in '99? (Laughter)?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: I'm not guilty (raising hands in air).

Q. You've been around; what has The European Team been able to do? What we're seeing today or have seen in two days here, for those who have seen some Ryder Cups, this is not new, this is just what the Ryder Cup has become; you guys make plays, the Americans don't. Do you have an explanation for that?

DARREN CLARKE: Don't give those secrets away. (Laughter).

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: I'm saying nothing. (Laughter).

Q. Some players at this stage are going out to play on both sides to play their fourth set of 18 holes in two days and it's a very quick turnaround, and particularly Padraig Harrington, he was in at the press conference yesterday and looked a bit knackered and admitted he's tired; it is hard work. Are you worried about taking on too much here?

DARREN CLARKE: Padraig is very, very fit. He works out an awful lot, and I'm sure we have every confidence in him that he'll be fine for tomorrow.

I've played five times and quite a few Ryder Cups, as has José Maria. It's very, very draining, and come Sunday, you know, sometimes the effects do show. This year because of the depth of the team, Ian has been able to rest some players such as José and myself, and hopefully we'll reap the benefits of that tomorrow.

But you're right, four games in the past two days is a very, very tough task.

Q. Along the same lines, was it very difficult to maintain concentration in that horrendous weather this morning, and secondly, do you expect a reaction tomorrow from the United States in the singles?

DARREN CLARKE: It wasn't hard to keep a concentration in that weather. We've got to get on with things and it's the same for both teams. You've just got to keep doing what you're doing, and even though the weather is becoming a little bit more difficult, you just keep doing what you're doing.

As regards the reaction from the Americans, I'm sure they will come out fighting. But there's still an awful long way to go. A lot of things can happen this afternoon in the foursomes, and you know, hopefully we will have a lead going into tomorrow. But I'm sure we're guaranteed of 12 fantastic games tomorrow.

Q. How much of an energy boost or a momentum boost for you guys and morale has it been that you've been able to keep the two big gun groups of the U.S., for example, Tiger and Furyk and Phil and DiMarco down? Just can you talk about in the team room what that's done for your morale, the fact that these two teams have been held in check, and both of you guys have had a lot to do with it?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: It's always great in an event like this when you can really, you know, shut down the big guns on your opponent's team.

But let's not forget that it's a 12 member team. You know, everybody counts. And as Darren said, there is four matches to go this afternoon, 12 tomorrow. There's a lot of golf to be played. But, you know, as long as we keep our heads ahead, that's great news for us.

Q. Can you just address that, too, a little bit?

DARREN CLARKE: Well, you know, Tiger and Jim and Phil and Chris are obviously very, very strong pairings. But, you know, some of us on The European Team can play, as well. They are strong, but so are we.

In 18 holes in match play, whether it be individual, fourballs or foursomes, anybody can beat anybody. We seem to be able to get ourselves up for those games. Certainly Lee and I yesterday against Phil and Chris and then today against Tiger and Jim, big games for us, and we rose to the occasion.

Q. Just to get back to the foursomes situation again, for both of you, you both played great golf so far, you were quite philosophical yesterday about not playing in the foursomes. Are you a little bit disappointed now that you're not playing the foursomes this afternoon, the both of you?

DARREN CLARKE: I think it's great to be sitting here, don't you?


DARREN CLARKE: Oh, I think it's fine, it's pissing rain out there, it's whatever he wants to do, go out and get soaked and try and make four footers all day, this is fine. (Laughter). It's all right to be sitting here, it's fine. It was all right winning in the morning like we have, so that's fine.

Q. Tiger's a good friend of yours and he was clearly quite out of sorts today and spent a lot of time with his head in his hands, no putts went, missed by inches time and time again. Is there ever any scope in the Ryder Cup for you to feel for him at all, or are you pleased he's missing because he's such a good player?

DARREN CLARKE: I do feel for Tiger, because he obviously is such a good friend to me. He had an off day. His timing was off, putting to go with it. Sometimes with the best player in the world, you want him to play well, you want him to play at his best and you want to try to beat people when they are at their best. Just, you know, he had a tough day, and we all have them.

Q. Lee misses a long putt, he laughs; Sergio kind of flares one in the air at 8 and comes up short and he kind of smiles about it. You guys have big leads; can you speak to the importance of getting out early and being able to play loose and how that affects the Americans playing from behind and playing tight?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, I think obviously to have a good start is always important. You don't want to be falling back and just trying to catch ground during the round. That makes you also play more relaxed. And I think that is important. Sergio and I managed yesterday and today, we had a good start, and, you know, somehow it saves the momentum. I think it's quite important, yeah.

Q. Will you describe just how well your partner Sergio has been playing and what that means to the team, what he's done through three sessions?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: I said yesterday morning, yesterday morning he played awesome, barely missed a shot. He drove the ball really long and straight. And whenever you play with a guy like that, I mean, you are relaxed to be honest. You know, you know you're playing with a guy that is not missing a shot, so there you are, you're pretty much watching the whole scenario from the best chair.

You know, today he played not as good as yesterday, but he played solid. Even if he misses a fairway here and there, he still has the tools to, you know, get something out of it. And you know, you really appreciate that from your partner. You know, you know you can count on him pretty much on every hole.

Q. The Europeans have picked up some big points on the 18th in the last couple of days; is that an example of the fact that you guys handle the pressure better? And if so, how much of a boost is it to you to win points like that?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, it's important to win those points; I think they are crucial. Like today, I mean, Casey and Robert on the last hole, I mean, you know, it was a tricky pin position. Even J.J. went for the green in two and he got a really, tough, tough putt down the hill and very, very fast. It's very easy to make three putts from there. The fact is that Paul Casey hit a wonderful second shot and gave himself a better chance for birdie.

It is important to turn around those points. At the end of the day, a half point here, a half point there is huge.

But I don't think it's just a matter of handling the pressure better than the other guys. I'm pretty sure that Tiger and all of the boys, Scott Verplank and Cink and all of those guys can handle pressure quite well, too. They have proved that all through their careers. I don't think in that sense that we are any better than they are.

Q. Sergio was talking yesterday about his passion for the Match and how he couldn't live without it. Apart from how well he's playing, in the team room and so on, off the course, what kind of influence does he have on the rest of the team and how is he with you guys?

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, he's young. (Laughter).

DARREN CLARKE: And José is not.

JOSE MARIA OLAZÁBAL: I think that sums it up quite well. He has a young spirit, he's full of energy. He loves this event, because of the whole atmosphere, the crowds, the team event. You know, we've done, pretty much Darren and myself and Monty, we've been through that period. The only thing maybe is when you get close to 40, the energy level is just a little bit lower.

DARREN CLARKE: Speak for yourself there. (Laughter).

JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: But it's always nice to have guys like Sergio and Luke and Paul. Maybe Sergio coming from the south of Europe, you know, he expresses it more. In that sense we might be just a little bit different. You know, it's always nice to have young kids like that.

GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, gents, thank you very much and well played again.

End of FastScripts.

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