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January 15, 2008

Darren Clarke


SCOTT CROCKETT: Darren, thanks, as always, for coming in to join us. The weather is a bet more like Portrush than Abu Dhabi, but your thoughts on being here.
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I'm looking forward to playing again as I have been. I finished off last year and went away for the Christmas break and stuff, and back down again last week and this week again.
It's my first time here. Played the golf course yesterday. Was very, very impressed with it. I thought it was a fantastic test. The rough is almost U.S. Open rough. But the course is fantastic.
SCOTT CROCKETT: A lot of encouraging signs last week. You played very well and were that far from a victory; that must give you confidence.
DARREN CLARKE: Definitely. The couple of weeks in South Africa prior to Christmas certainly gave me a big boost, and then last week, again, I played very well. Thursday I played reasonable but I was very poor on the greens and shot 2-over on a very easy course comparatively speaking.
So then went out the other three days on a tough course and played really well. I'm looking forward to it. I want to play and be competing and get myself right back in contention.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You were right there in Sunday, you had that feeling right back.
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I had it in Pearl Valley, as well, the Sunday down there and it was good to get over the Christmas break. I didn't take much time off. I kept working and working and working and working, and I think I had four days off in three weeks over Christmas. I just kept working on all of the things I'm trying to do. It was nice to come back out last week and pick up where I left off.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks for that. Take some questions.

Q. Can you describe your journey from your lowest ebb to now, being really keen to play again?
DARREN CLARKE: I don't know what the best way to describe it is. I was working away, working really hard. My head just wasn't there. It wasn't in a place that I could compete and get out there and things were irritating me, simple little things. My head just wasn't in the right place.
I got to the stage where I got through a lot of it, anniversaries and stuff from last year, basically from middle of August onwards that I really got myself into position where I wanted to play again. You know, it's been a gradual thing of getting better.
Overall I'm doing a lot better. I want to play and I want to get myself up as a top player again, I don't even know where I am in the World Rankings. I'm desperate to get myself back up there again.

Q. Was the one year anniversary a turning point for you?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, more or less, more or less.

Q. Is it all about confidence?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, you know, I believe I'm doing the right things. It was a combination of things and working away with -- I really like the stuff that we're working on. My ball flight, so it's better, and much more controllable, so that has made a huge difference, as well.
I really want to play I want to compete and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to play. I'm keen to get to the range and practise and keep on doing the things that I'm doing.

Q. What's your schedule?
DARREN CLARKE: I'll going to play this week, have a week off and then I'm playing Dubai, India, Indonesia and then I think I've got a couple of weeks off and then going to Malaysia, three after that, and so I'm playing a lot.

Q. Are you taking the private jet to all of these?
DARREN CLARKE: Unfortunately not, no.

Q. Although you are keen now, did you ever have to force yourself to get out there?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, of course. It's not much fun whenever you are struggling like I was last year, being where I've never been. But it's not me at all, and no, it was just wearing me down. Just kept on going.

Q. Did you have any particular support?
DARREN CLARKE: I've had a lot of support from all walks of life and I've been very thankful for that and helped me through some very difficult periods. I have to get comfortable with myself but with my new life and the way things are.
I think I'm doing better and because of that, I'm a lot happier and my boys are doing great at home and they are happy for me to get out there playing. They want to me see doing well and it nice to call them after a tournament and stuff and they say, "Well done, Daddy." I'm getting there.

Q. Are you going all these places because it is a Ryder Cup year and you want to get back in the team?
DARREN CLARKE: After the year I had last year, I'll be going wherever I can to play golf. And I think you know with the Royal Trophy being cancelled, playing South Africa, I got a text from Chubby, whatever morning it was, the week prior to the Joburg Open saying the Royal Trophy has been cancelled. And first thing I said was, "Can you get me into Joburg, I want to go and play."
I haven't won a tournament since Japan whenever that was, and got myself back up there can again and I want to keep up doing and hopefully things will start getting back to winning habits.

Q. Was Friday big last week after the Thursday?
DARREN CLARKE: No, not really. On Friday I still gave myself lots of opportunities. I just didn't putt very well.
I played okay. Tee-to-green I was still very good. But been playing -- the two golf courses, it's a very stern test and it was wet like this and it was tough to play on a tough golf course and I played as good as I've played in a very, very long time. I flagged it all day and shot 6-under par which is probably the worst score I could have shot, so it was great.
The way I played, you know, it certainly helps give me a good boost that the things I'm working on obviously are good.

Q. Is it just that something turns on in your head?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I've got a few things this year that I want to do on the people I'm working with. I'm sticking to my routine and doing the same things every day, I'm the first to admit I've jumped and changed things in the past, but now I'm getting back into a more solid regime of doing the same things?

Q. You said you got a few things straight, what were they?
DARREN CLARKE: Just going back and forth between Ewen Murray and Pete (Cowen) wasn't really working, so it's more simple. I think the world of Pete but Ewen in just more simple for me. Pete is a world class coach but Ewen in simpler for me and I think the simpler the better for me is the key.
I'm sticking with that and I know what I'm trying to do on my putting and working with Karl Morris at home and I've got a definitive number of things that I'm doing as opposed to going between things all the time so I can't wait to keep on going?

Q. Any specific goals for this year?
DARREN CLARKE: I'm not quite sure. I'll let you know if I do. I have a few and I know what I want to do myself but they are for myself.

Q. Any holes to look out for out there?
DARREN CLARKE: I didn't play today. I played yesterday for practise. There's quite a few tough holes out there. Just the severity of the rough, even the par 5s if you hit it in the rough off the tee, you're struggling to reach in three on quite a few of the holes and even some of the par 4s.
So you know there's huge premium of driving it on the fairway this week. The rain coming down obviously won't be helping that because the ball won't be running so far when it hits the fairways but again the course is going to play longer. I believe the guys were saying the scores have been low in the past but the rough and the combination of the weather and the way the golf course is set up, it's going to be a much tougher test than it has been in the past.

Q. Thoughts on the 16th?
DARREN CLARKE: 16, I hit driver, 4-iron yesterday, it was into the wind. I hit driver, 4-iron and regards to the redesign, I have no idea what it was like before as this is my first time here.

Q. When was the last time you were this enthusiastic?
DARREN CLARKE: Long time ago. I've always been keen but now I am working harder than I've ever worked, spending more time than I've ever worked, I'm just getting happier now and starting to smile on golf course and more comfortable on the golf course which I haven't been for a long time.

Q. Are you hungry to win again?
DARREN CLARKE: Just hungry to be in contention, it's what I do and it's what I want to do and I haven't been there the last few years for obvious reasons of course and I want to get myself up there again. I think there are a lot more wins in me.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Did that last putt last putt last week, sum up the way you are on the course now, there was a lovely big smile when it eventually dropped into the hole?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, it was one of those I was going to hit it it's going to miss and halfway there, up over the green and back in and it was really lucky to go in.
You know it was nice, just nice to think -- it's easy to say that we all get bad breaks all the time, it's just how you deal with them and how you go forward and maybe in the past I've been very hard on myself but it's nice to be more comfortable and more accepting on the course than I've been. It's nice to be lucky.

Q. Can you top what you did before in your career?
DARREN CLARKE: I would like to think so. I wouldn't be working as hard if I didn/t

Q. Did you make a New Year's resolution?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I did. I did just to get on with things, you know, I don't think -- has there been anybody in the tour who has been through anything like I have? I don't think there has. Stuart Appleby maybe? He wasn't married with kids and all that - not to take anything away from Stuart whatsoever as it was a very traumatic thing. But you take everybody's advice and well wishes and understanding which has been great but you have to go through it yourself, and it's a lot different.
Tiger took a little time after Sherwood and spoke very kindly about what I was going through and all that sort of stuff. So it's nice to know I have support from friends and just want to help me get through it. I've been much happier with myself and I want to go, I want to play; I want to win.

Q. Tiger has always been in your corner though hasn't he?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, he's been very, very kind to me. He's a good friend and he's been very kind. You know, the court case that Tiger and Elin had at The Ryder Cup, they donated the money to cancer in the memory of Heather and that was again, another thing, and Tiger's been a really, really good friend to me for a long, long period.

Q. You have a new lady in your life, without wanting to go too much into it, it does have an effect on your professional life, doesn't it?
DARREN CLARKE: It does, it is just normality, having normality in your life which is nice, it's good.

Q. Are you feeling confident about Abu Dhabi?
DARREN CLARKE: I'm looking forward to it, I'm really looking forward to it.

Q. Is Ewen Murray here this week?
He's arriving this evening.

Q. Having him commentating and analyzing your swing at the same time must be very handy?
DARREN CLARKE: Very. He's very good and he understands my is swing and he's been watching it for a long time.

Q. How did you and Kerry meet?
DARREN CLARKE: Through mutual friends - now stop being so nosy Karl.

SCOTT CROCKETT: That's another thing that hasn't changed this year either Darren!
DARREN CLARKE: Exactly. You said it just before I did!
SCOTT CROCKETT: Darren, thanks very much for that and good luck this week.

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