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July 9, 2010

Darren Clarke


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks, as always, for coming down and joining us, and many congratulations on another good day at Loch Lomond. Give us your thoughts on that 67. Pretty good?
DARREN CLARKE: Pretty good today, yes. Obviously conditions were very, very tough. The ball was going nowhere; so consequently, the course was playing brutally long. Made a few mistakes, hit a cup of bad shots but away with them and then hit some good shots, as well and rolled in a couple nice putts.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Anything in particular please you today? Was it survival for you?
DARREN CLARKE: It was one of those days where you know it was always going to be tough. You have to take what the course gives you and try and grind out a score. Certainly I'm very pleased to have ground out 4-under.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Those of us in Ireland that watched you play at JP's, we know it was a charity event, but you played very well there, and the pins on the first day were particularly tough and yet you ground out a score; it's carrying on from that, isn't it.
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, as I said yesterday, I've been playing not bad for quite some time, and to see a few putts rolling in certainly gives me an extra little bit of comfort.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Give us the details and we'll go to question. Start at 10 and bogeyed 11.
DARREN CLARKE: 11, hit a beautiful shot about 20 feet behind the hole and 3-putted.
12, I hit driver, 7-iron to about 15 feet and holed it.
16, was driver, 3-wood off the right edge of the green and chipped it in. It was a net albatross.
No. 1, I pushed my tee shot a little bit but it was okay. I hit a 4-iron into 1, drove it around the tree just off the right edge and holed it from 15 feet just off the edge of the green.
No. 3, the green was on in two with a soft drive up the fairway, a 7-iron down there and hit a gap wedge just off the front edge of the green and holed it from about 20 feet.
Next hole, hit driver, leaked it right but it was fine, okay in the rough, off the green to 25 feet and holed it for birdie.

Q. On a day like today, what is the most difficult element, concentration? Preparation?
DARREN CLARKE: Probably having to hit clubs into holes that are so far removed from what you thought they were going to be. For example, the first hole is usually driver, 9-iron or driver, 8-iron and I was hitting driver, 4-iron.
16 I hit driver, 9-iron yesterday and I hit driver, 3-wood today. Some of the holes were playing brutally long. That's the biggest thing, there is rain is air and the air is heavy so the ball is not going that far. I hit some drives today that I absolutely killed less than 240 yards.

Q. When you walked out, is there an element of fear of saying, well, hang on, is it six clubs more and easing back, or do you still have to commit yourself?
DARREN CLARKE: No, you're wearing out long irons all day long into par 3s and par 4s. There's very few short irons into any holes out there. So just take what it gives you. We got a pretty good idea on the first couple of holes how far the ball was going or not going as the case may and be go on from there.

Q. Curious, one bogey in 36 holes in these conditions, what's been your best par save?
DARREN CLARKE: What's been my best par save, 18 yesterday where only shot I missed yesterday from the middle of the fairway when it started raining heavily and hit it out, to, what, six feet, five feet and holed it from there.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And today, the best par save?
DARREN CLARKE: I hit most of the greens. I'm trying to think where I missed. 7, I hit a good tee shot on 7 and bent down to pick up my tee and walked up there expecting to be down the fairway, and I kicked the left edge of the tree and kicked straight right down. I hit rescue just off the left wedge through the gap and chipped it to four feet and holed it from four feet.
I hit a lot of greens; the greens that I've missed most of them have been two inches off the fringe.

Q. You've been telling us for so long that the putting has held you in despair; you could hardly have had worse conditions for putting yet you still come out on top, is there a reason or just the way the cookie crumbles?
DARREN CLARKE: Just the way it goes. Changed my posture and working on things and it's just nice to have balls going in and making good strokes and seeing them going in.

Q. When is the last time you played in bad weather conditions, as bad as that?
DARREN CLARKE: The conditions were -- it wasn't torrential, heavy rain. It was just torrential rain. But if you're from Ireland, there's a difference. Torrential rain and torrential heavy rain, there's a massive difference. But put it this way, when we got on the first tee this morning, there was no saying we were all surprised. We knew it was going to be very hard and the forecast was poor. So it just tough to play in it.
But obviously having been at home in Portrush, I've had much worse than this.

Q. Which more satisfying, today or yesterday?
DARREN CLARKE: Probably today, because I think today was tougher. You know, the golf course was playing, as I said, really, really long, really tough conditions. So every hole, you know, par was a good score on every hole. So being able to shoot 4-under I was very pleased with.

Q. Yesterday you said one round is too soon to start talking about winning the event or Top-5, are you now thinking Open Championship?
DARREN CLARKE: No. It's two rounds. Not yet obviously. I've consolidated my position. I've played nicely again. And you know, it's been a couple of years since I've been at the top of the leaderboard in a European Tour event, so I'm going into the weekend probably a little bit nervous but very excited at the same time. I want to get out there and play and give myself a chance and see how we go.

Q. When you look at some of the other scores, double-bogeys, even people like Ernie and Phil have been making, and it looks like you've been playing a different course; do you ever get into that zone where you get to that point yourself?
DARREN CLARKE: Sometimes thinking is not one of my strong points, as you're aware, especially with course management. But you know, I've been thinking very well so far this week, managing when I have a tough shot to miss it on the right side and not taking on as many flags as I normally would do. It's a of whenever maybe whenever I haven't been playing my best I've been trying to go at flags to make up for things and it's difficult because I'm not making putts, and it's a bit of a vicious circle and you short-side yourself and make more bogeys. Whereas this week, because my putter feels better, rolling the ball better, I'm a little more patient with my putting and chipping.

Q. You said you've done well here in the past; what do you feel was a missed opportunity here?
DARREN CLARKE: I finished second twice, I finished second to Ernie one time, didn't I? And then Tim Clark, as well. Can't remember. Absolutely no idea. Don't ask me what I did yesterday never mind anything else. But I do like the golf course, obviously.

Q. What did you think was going to be a decent score, about level par?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, about level par. Anything around par was always go going to be pretty good today.

Q. And no place in the right; did anybody have any bad mud balls?
DARREN CLARKE: We had a couple, but I think the course stood up remarkably well to the amount of rain that's come down thus far. I think the guys this afternoon might have a bit more difficulty with it.

Q. Did you have any?
DARREN CLARKE: No. I had one but didn't really make that much difference.

Q. You said you'd been playing quite nicely for a while, but did you think 10-under par on a course playing this tough was this close?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, you know, I've been hitting the ball really solidly of late, so 10-under par, I'm obviously delighted with that these past days in those conditions. But in terms of the shots I've been hitting, I've been very pleased with what I've been doing; just getting perturbed.

Q. Does the period of play, when you have been playing particularly well that you're talking about, does it date back to a particular time, and is it the result of some significant change in your swing?
DARREN CLARKE: No, nothing at all. Just putting in the hours. The more I'm playing poorly, the longer the hours I was practising, and it doesn't get back to anything.
At the end of the day, you have to put -- I've always been a worker on the range and putting in as much time as I possibly could working on my game. The only thing that was really stopping me was my putting wasn't quite good enough, and the ball was refusing to go in. All of the sudden a few go in and changed my whole outlook.

Q. Do you know where you are in The Ryder Cup standings?
DARREN CLARKE: Absolutely no idea. But I told Monty what a major tournament that was at Adare Monday and Tuesday and I did remind him won my first tournament off the year down in South Africa and there's massive World Ranking points and forgot to put them on the list -- apart from them, no, I haven't looked at where I am at the minute. (Laughter)

End of FastScripts

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