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May 14, 2008

Darren Clarke


RODDY WILLIAMS: Welcome to the Irish Open here at Adare Manor. You missed it last year but no doubt relishing the opportunity this year?
DARREN CLARKE: Unfortunately I was injured last year with my hamstring and watched it on television. It looked pretty challenging with the weather being bad and everything. But with Padraig winning and then going on to win The Open was a massive boost for golf in Ireland and then in recent weeks we have had the four winners and I think a lot of that is due to what Padraig did last year. We will be looking for another Irish winner this week.
RODDY WILLIAMS: The recent wins shojld really give this tournament a lift?
DARREN CLARKE: Definitely. Hopefully we will have big crowds and people coming into see. Give a lift to the likes of Rory and Paul and Padraig who I am sure want to get on that winner's list as soon as possible.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Can you reflect on that win in China and what is meant to you?
DARREN CLARKE: I think I have said it all but it was great to get back into the winners circle again and it meant an awful lot to me. I want to carry on from there. I played in Spain the week after but was too tired and made too many mistakes. I was to kick on from there.

Q. The win must put you in good shape for the rest of the year?
DARREN CLARKE: Definitely. It's why I have been putting in all this hard work. It was great getting back into the winners circle. Winning is what I play and to get back there again, okay I made it more difficult than I should have done but I got it done in the end. I want to get back as soon as possible again.

Q. Was it like getting a monkey off your back?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, it was, it's been a very difficult period of my life both on and off the golf course which you guys all know. To get back to my job again and winning, was definitely something that I wanted to do and it had been a long time and it was quite difficult, to say the least. Hopefully I won't make it as tough the next time.

Q. Did you ever doubt it would happen?
DARREN CLARKE: No. Because I can play a little bit -- I know I can play. It took me a lot longer than I thought it was going to.

Q. Playing and winning are two different thinfs?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, totally. If I had doubted it, I wouldn't have spent the time I was doing working on things. I wouldn't have been in the gym. I wouldn't have been up hitting balls. I wouldn't have been doing that. But I was, and so I did.

Q. Having made it nso tough, what do you think of Damien winning by nine?
DARREN CLARKE: I've never won by nine so I can't quite comment but it would be a lovely stroll down the last, it has to be said.

Q. Given that you have won and others, you have the reigning Open champion, do you think it will be the most exciting Irish Open for years?
DARREN CLARKE: I think so. I think it could be. You know, they ask guys all the time to join that winner's circle. Have we ever done this before, have we ever had three winners in a row? It's a fantastic time for Irish golf.
I think Graeme's win in Korea kicked it all off and Damien's win, and Peter and myself to a certain degree, and I think that seeing guys win helps the other guys come along and that's happened. I'm sure you're going to have a cup of the Irish guys up there challenging this week to try to keep that run going.

Q. We know what you've been through, but you are doing more work than before so why was it so hard to get it all to come together?
DARREN CLARKE: Because my head was getting in the way. I couldn't quite focus on what I was trying to do. My concentration wasn't as good as what it should have been and I was making silly mistakes.

Q. Is that being a single parent and so much more going on in your head?
DARREN CLARKE: Probably had a little to do with it. It's definitely been a different experience, to say the least, looking after the boys, making all the decisions myself. It's not something that I ever did before. It's been great -- yeah, most definitely, and I suppose things happen in life which everybody has difficult times but definitely got a lot closer to my boys through what's happened.
In terms of the golf course, it hasn't been the best thing for my golf until recently.

Q. Have you got to the stage where you can reconcile your golf with your time at home and how?
DARREN CLARKE: Time, just getting used to different situations. Being a single parent has taken a while to get used to, and the boys are happy and I'm certainly a lot happier than I've been for some time. It's just progressing. It's life moving onwards, that's all.

Q. You are going to have a go at retaining your Ryder Cup place but giving how emotional 2006 was, can you separate 06 with it being a regular tournament. Can you compartmentalize it?
DARREN CLARKE: Most definitely. Yes, because everything that I've been doing and stuff since Heather passed away in golfing terms, I've been back here once, I've been to The Ryder Cup since she passed away; I've won again since she passed away.
So all of those benchmarks, those first-time things I've done. It's the first time -- there's a few times going back to even last year where I was going back to venues where I remembered, well, Heather and I use to stay here, we used to do that, so now I've done it all. I don't think that The Ryder Cup will be -- it's one I desperately want to play in, but because I've already done it once it is a lot easier.

Q. What do you need to do to make the t?
DARREN CLARKE: Probably win another couple of times.

Q. Couple of times?
DARREN CLARKE: Mm-hmm. Win another couple of times. Because this year, we talked about it at the start of the year, my whole schedule is based around Europe, to get myself back on the ladder again, to start climbing up the World Rankings, which I've done. It's all worked out as we would have hoped so far.
You know, I've got to win another couple of times to get myself back in there.

Q. Why did you decide not to play in the US Open?
DARREN CLARKE: Because as we said, my intention was to play in Europe all this year and to go have a look at The Ryder Cup course, which I haven't done yet, I'm only 39, I'm hanging onto my 30s at the minute. To go all the way over there for one week with only Monday to prepare; I've committed to Austria, so I can't play the week over there. So my preparations wouldn't be the way that I would want them going into a major championship.
So for me, I think putting Wales into my schedule, which gives me four tournaments in a row now, I'm doing everything I can to try to make The Ryder Cup Team.

Q. you can still qualify for the US Open with a good week here and at the BMW PGA Championship next week - will you play then?
DARREN CLARKE: At the moment, no. You know, my schedule now, it's firmly based around Europe. My goal is to try to make the team and you know, some people may frown at my decision but that's the way that I see it.

Q. Azinger has an interesting side about Faldo and the Ryder Cup and it is also as if he wants to be more aggressive, not Mr Nice Guy this time?
DARREN CLARKE: The last one was a little bit different for a few reasons. Everything has been, not calm, but Zinger has always been a firey personality. That's the way he is on and off the golf course. Nick and himself don't particularly see eye-to-eye, which is obvious. And you know, you have two different captains and whether there is a little bit more spice, I imagine there will be, that's only good for The Ryder Cup. They are desperate to win it back, and they will have a very strong team trying whatever they can to get the trophy back.

Q. Do you think a Brookline style atmosphere suits the Americans more?
DARREN CLARKE: Fortunately when I go and play in America, people are always very nice to me. I don't see all that sort of stuff. I've been very lucky that way. They seem to like me over there, so I didn't see any of it.
But I was -- you could hear some of the stuff that was going on, and we all heard some of the stories. But it was a very hot Sunday afternoon.

Q. Is your game good enough now to win any tournament?
DARREN CLARKE: Very close. It's very close. When I play well, you know I've got no doubts whatsoever about winning tournaments. I'm still working on things. I'm still trying to make it better and better and, you know, that's the game and that's what I'm trying to do.
I'm very close to playing the way that I want to play.

Q. What is your No. 1 goal this year?
DARREN CLARKE: My No. 1 goal at the term of the year -- Chubby and I had a good chat at the start of the year and we sort of came up with a few things as to what I should do and get back there. We spent a lot of time working on all of those aspects as I told you. That's what I wanted to do, so now that I've done that, I want to try and do it another couple of times and try to get myself on The Ryder Cup team. That's my goal for this career and that's what I'll try and do.

Q. What are you lacking?
DARREN CLARKE: Maybe a little bit of consistency on the greens is probably what's not quite right at the moment.

Q. What are your differences with Faldo?
DARREN CLARKE: No, I didn't say we didn't see eye-to-eye. I said zinger and Nick don't see eye-to-eye.

Q. It took 20 months to get back to the winners enclosure. Is there a defining moment where things started to go right?
DARREN CLARKE: It's been a while. You know, I kept telling you guy, I'm playing okay, I'm playing okay. Even sometimes I was playing okay when I was missing cuts, and I kept saying I was playing okay. I must have sounded like a broken record to you guys because I knew I was playing okay.
I just persevered and kept on going. I think toward the end much last year in South Africa, where did I finish, third I think, I think that was a big step in the right direction for me. I knew everything I was working on was right. To get myself back in there again, that was probably the one that I felt that, I'm all right again now.

Q. What is your putting coach Stephen Feeney doing?
DARREN CLARKE: Alignment. He works on my alignment. He works on snooker, darts and golf and it's basically getting my eyes -- matching where my eyes have been looking. My head has been tilting across the line quite a bit so, when I set the putter down, I know it's lining up in the right place, which I haven't been before.

Q. When did you know that putt was going in in China?
DARREN CLARKE: It was tracking from six feet. It was going -- it was five feet past if it misses but it was having a chance.

Q. Have you seen the replay?

Q. You haven't?
DARREN CLARKE: No. I haven't seen it yet.

Q. You haven't seen your reaction?
DARREN CLARKE: No, I haven't seen anything.

Q. Any reason?
DARREN CLARKE: No, just haven't seen it. I haven't got a tape, I haven't got a DVD to watch it. I've seen the pictures but I haven't actually seen the film.

Q. Did you ever feel sorry foro your opponent?
DARREN CLARKE: That's just the way it is. Robert was very good. Sometimes things go for you and sometimes things go against you and obviously it was meant to be my day. He almost did that. He's a professional golfer, as well.
You know, at this point as it was, he was actually very pleased for me at the same time, which was really nice.

Q. Is that the first time you started thinking about The Ryder Cup?
DARREN CLARKE: I still had a look, but in terms of ranking and lists and all that sort of stuff, I haven't been looking for a couple of years.

Q. Why did you let two Scots have your private jet?
DARREN CLARKE: It was the easy option -- thought we were giving them at a cheap price.

Q. Your putting routine, is that part that you're working on --
DARREN CLARKE: No, that's a bit more Bob Rotella and I've been speaking a bit to Bob, as well, just a bit of hit and go, less tactical.

Q. What exactly does the alignment process entail?
DARREN CLARKE: You drop the putter down and you hope it lands straight -- you do your stuff, he gets my alignment with a few different things that he's got. Basically after you do the drills that he has had me doing, you know, I can step up to the top and I line the putter up without the indicator that he uses and I'll be lined up perfectly just through subconscious. That's what happens -- just stop irking myself.

Q. Who has been the biggest help to you?
DARREN CLARKE: Everybody I suppose. Chub and Ewen and Keith Maxwell at home and my parents. A lot of my really close friends have been, when things have been going well, you're still there, keep going, keep going, but my very close friends have been proper friends, as I would call them.

Q. What do you remember of Adare Manor from the JP McManus Pro-Am?
DARREN CLARKE: Not a lot. I think I was too hung over to remember that much about it. There was a little bit -- I remember watching it last year at home when obviously Padraig won, but I remember it being a very long, tough golf course. I'm sure it's going to be the same this year. I believe the weather is going to turn a little bit, from Friday or something, it's going to turn, so we shall see.

Q. Did you learn anything from Greg Norman in the first two rounds in China?
DARREN CLARKE: I'm almost 40, so I've learned most of the things myself now -- no, no, I was just chatting away to him. Greg was my hero growing up. He was the guy that I wanted to play like. You know, I've always enjoyed playing with him and he is a proper gentleman. I enjoyed the first few days playing with him.

Q. What are you doing for your 40th?
DARREN CLARKE: If I had my choice I would disappear off the planet for the first three days, but I'll be at the US PGA hopefully.

Q. Do missed putts still hurt as much?
DARREN CLARKE: Of course I do. Of course I do. I don't -- sometimes, but of course I do. When I don't play well, I'm not accustomed to playing poorly, that's been the most difficult thing the past couple of years when I just haven't perform, and that's been the hardest thing, because I've never done that. I'm fortunate that the game has been, not easy, but I've always had a pretty good handle on it, and it has not been the past couple of years to this point.
Now that I've got back there again, I think I'm a lot more relaxed and looking forward to it now after having won a few weeks ago.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Darren thank you very much. Congratulations once again and good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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