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May 16, 2008

Darren Clarke

Paul McGinley


Q. How do you feel about 69 overall?
DARREN CLARKE: Very pleased with it because I didn't play particularly well at all today and my ball-striking was poor. My speed on the greens was poor and I managed to just hang in there and sneak it around. Paul played fantastic all day. Tough finish. He probably could have shot 65,66. Just was trying to hang onto him the way he was playing and I got a couple of good breaks at the end.

Q. Feel frustrated, taking a bogey at the last, but overall, lots of positives?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, lots of positives. I was disappointed the way I played the last six, seven holes, not as well as I played the rest. But I'm still there, thereabouts, tough course, lot to play for yet.

Q. Your stats have been terrific, are you swinging the club as well as you ever have?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I've been working hard on it. My short game was pretty decent today, too, despite last few holes and other than that it was very good so I'm pretty pleased.

Q. You said yesterday the putter was errant; was it better today?
DARREN CLARKE: A little bit. I'm really struggling for a solid strike and I'm trying too many different things out there, messing about. And you know, if strikes are no good, then the pace is off; and if the pace is off then you lose a little bit of confidence with it, and just didn't feel comfortable with it at all. Lucky to hole a couple decent putts around the turn but struggled after that.

Q. How about the atmosphere on the course?
DARREN CLARKE: It was great. Always going to be a few people following Paul around, and with the weather, there was a good, big crowd, especially the front nine which was our back nine, which is always great to see.

Q. You were critical of the way it was set up yesterday, was it better today?
PAUL McGINLEY: It was better because it was softer. They put in all these new tee boxes which make it a monster of a golf course. And in my view the length of shots you're asked to hit into the greens the way the greens are, with quadrants and slopes all over the place are designed for 7-, 8-, 9-irons, not, 4-, 5-, 6-, like we were hitting yesterday. Because the greens were soft, the course is playable and that's why I think the scoring was pretty decent this morning.
It's always the thing in promotional golf. Everybody thinks it's length that makes it tough for us; it's not. It's when the greens are firm. That's what makes it really tricky because we can control the ball from A to B, but when it gets on the grounds and starts rolling that's when it's out of control. Everybody think it's all about length but not really, it's firm greens that's tough for us.

Q. Some work on the greens for you at lunch time?
DARREN CLARKE: Definitely, spend a little time on there and get back on to the greens. Flushing it on the greens but not quite doing the same on course. A little bit of work with Ewen this afternoon.

Q. Fancy your chances over the week?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, we'll see. I need to be tidier than I was today. I need to be really tidy over the weekend to contend.

Q. What are your thoughts making progress up the leaderboard and your performance overall?
PAUL McGINLEY: Pretty good. I was a bit scrappy the back nine. I didn't put it all together. My iron play is not as good as it should be, so I have work to do on that.

Q. Were you really buzzed up by the performance on the opening nine holes, three birdies in there, you were looking really good.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I was and I started the front nine decently, too, and then I started hitting some bad iron the should. The shots I missed, dropped, were bad iron shots. Need to work a bit on that this afternoon.

Q. Are you happier with the way the course was set up today compared to yesterday?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, it's the same golf course; just playing in the morning, the greens have a lot more moisture in them and they are soft. You can hit them into the bowls where the pins are. Yesterday it was rock hard and you couldn't get near the pins. It was tough, really tough yesterday afternoon, and today was very playable because it was soft.

Q. Now, it's an incredible run for Irish golf at the moment and you would dearly love to win this championship, your best finish tied for third in 2000; 2008, is it looking good for Paul McGinley?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I'm there or thereabouts. I don't think the leaders are going to run away. The golf course is too tough for them to run away into double figures. I'm there or thereabouts. I have to be a bit tidier over the weekend. A lot of good golf, I just need to be a bit tidier.

Q. You were a little critical of the course yesterday, has anything changed today?
DARREN CLARKE: I played better today but it was softer, it's still the same thing. We're still playing off tees that the greens are not designed to be hit by, so I stand completely by what I said. You know, length on this golf course doesn't necessarily make it better.

Q. Looking ahead to tomorrow and Sunday, what do you think you?
DARREN CLARKE: I have no idea. The course as tough as it is and the greens as tricky as they are; if the wind starts to blow and we don't get that much rain, it's going to play really, really tough.
I think probably looking at 10-under par winning score, so we shall see.

Q. Shooting 69, not hitting it, not putting it as well as you would like, that's good scoring.
DARREN CLARKE: It's just a grinding out score today. And grinding has not been one of my strong points in the past but I just hung in there. Paul played fantastic all day and got a little unlucky the last couple of holes. I was just trying to hang onto him the way he was playing.

Q. You really did pull each other along with a huge gallery for a second day at the Irish Open?
DARREN CLARKE: It was fantastic to see it, it was fantastic.

Q. You've had good Irish Opens and very nearly won two years ago; what would it mean for Darren Clarke to win this week?
DARREN CLARKE: I have a long way to go before we think about that, but I have a lot of work to do, it's very good on the range but not quite as good on the golf course. I have to go and do some work.

Q. Winning in China, it looks like you're almost ready to get into a groove.
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, 69, that's a pretty good sign, so there's a lot of positives. I'm taking a lot of positives out of my golf game.

Q. And the course today? You made some remarks yesterday about it being fairly difficult and not much fun.
DARREN CLARKE: It's still tough today. This morning, the greens were a little bit softer and the flags were a little bit more accessible.
The guys going out this afternoon are going to face the same sort of things we did this afternoon; although, the breeze has not picked up yet so the greens may still a little softer than they did yesterday afternoon. It's a very stern test, some of the clubs we are asked to hit into the greens.

Q. The weekend ahead, the weather might hold, good galleries, an atmosphere worth savouring?
DARREN CLARKE: Most, definitely, I want to get myself up there and contend this week.

Q. So it would have been wrong to make the course easier today, because the second half of the field suffered yesterday; so you were not expecting to see changes?
DARREN CLARKE: No, I wasn't expecting to see changes.

Q. Will you over the weekend?
DARREN CLARKE: Would I expect to see them; no. Would I like to see them; yes.

Q. Were the pins any different, easier today?
DARREN CLARKE: Difficult. We really can't be playing off the tees on some of the holes that we are trying to hit into. The greens are 9-iron greens, and we are hitting 5-irons into the greens; it's not quite right.

Q. Your birdies?
DARREN CLARKE: 16, I hit 3-wood, lob-wedge to three feet for birdie.
7-iron on 16 to 20 feet for birdie.
18, driver, laid up with a pitching wedge, 15 feet for birdie.

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