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July 27, 2010

Darren Clarke


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Let's talk about the 3 Irish Open; Darren, are you looking forward to it?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, the course, I don't really remember that much about it. It was a long time, '92. So I didn't remember an awful lot about it.
But the greens are a lot more undulating than what I remember. The bits that I do -- have they redone the greens? They have redone the greens, haven't they, and the tees, moved in some new tees. But the greens were never as slopey as this, were they.
The course's protection this week is going to be the breeze, which I believe we are going to get some, because it's not the longest that we play on the Tour. So the attention is on the severity of the greens and the slopes of the greens.
So all in all I still think it's going to be a low-scoring week so I think the spectators will have a lot to look forward to.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: You must be one of the few guys in the field who played.
DARREN CLARKE: There wouldn't be many. Is there anyone else -- oh, thanks very much. Don't say that with a smile.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Peter O'Malley and Barry Lane.
DARREN CLARKE: Thank you very much.

Q. Your fellow Vice Captain.
DARREN CLARKE: Mr. McGinley, he's played here before. It will be great. The course, they have done a great job with it, the course, I believe it got severely burnt or something last month, isn't it; it was brown. There's a couple of patches out there but overall they have done really well.

Q. Just wondering, there's four amateurs playing in the field this week representing the GUI, at this time this event last year, even Shane Lowry never dreamed that he could win an Irish Open. Is possible for amateurs to go on to win Irish Opens?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, Shane didn't it, didn't he? Shane did it last year.

Q. Is it a once-in-a-lifetime thing?
DARREN CLARKE: It's a big ask. It's obviously a big ask and it just goes to show how well Shane actually did last year. It's a different game than we play than what the amateurs play, because obviously we are doing it week-in, week-out on different golf courses to what they do. It's certainly a big ask for them to do it. But Shane obviously won and won very well last year, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

Q. What do you think of that last year?
DARREN CLARKE: I thought it was amazing. I thought it was amazing. I've tried to do it, God willing for 17, 18 years as a pro, and never got near it -- well, got close a couple times, but he managed to do as an amateur and that's fantastic. There's not many amateurs winning on The European Tour, and for him to do that was incredible.

Q. There wouldn't have been that much difference in your game from 1990 to '91, would it?
DARREN CLARKE: No, there would been hardly any difference as all. No, there wouldn't have been any. You learn, you know; the longer you're on Tour, you learn. I'm still learning now. You learn different shots and different ways of doing things, which some people it takes a longer time to learn than others.

Q. With the advance in technology over 20 years, is this course looking a little bit short?
DARREN CLARKE: In terms of a par 72, yes, it would be short. In terms of a par 70, which I believe we are going to play it as -- either 70 or 71 -- is 11 going to be a par 5?

Q. 11 is the par 4. The 7th a par 5.
DARREN CLARKE: What's the normal par, 73? 11 is going to be a par 4, and 13 is going to be a par 4 -- is 13 not usually a par 5?
Okay. So the par is 71. It's still not that short for a par 71, you know what I mean, because the tees, there's some long holes out there and lots of birdie opportunities.
In terms of what we usually play, last week could have been 8,000 yards after the back of the tees in Sweden, more than; that's just the way the game is going. In modern terms, it probably is a little bit short, but as I said, the defence is in the wind and the greens.
If we have a week where it's 20-under par or a little bit more, it will win the tournament, great. The spectators will see more birdies and that's fine.

Q. How encouraged are you by recent results, second in Loch Lomond, chance to win and all that kind of thing?
DARREN CLARKE: Very much so. Very much so. It's been good. You know, as I say, I'm working away, working away, working away. It's tough to keep working away and not seeing any results. You see them for you guys, as well, you keep working away, you don't get the right this, you don't get the right that; it's frustrating. And our job is no different. You put the hours in and you don't get the results and that's very frustrating. To actually see some results and stuff has been very encouraging. So certainly my confidence is a lot better than it was pre-Adare.

Q. So you think you can kick on from here now?
DARREN CLARKE: I hope so. I hope so.

Q. Just as a follow-up to what I was asking earlier, how far would you say with technology you hit the ball further than 20 years ago?
DARREN CLARKE: I don't think I hit it any further than 20 years ago. I think that modern technology has benefitted some players and has hindered others -- maybe not hindered them, is the wrong word, but I think -- you know, I grew up using Persimmon. There are not many of the guys out there even ever hit them. I probably hit it just as far then as I do now.

Q. US PGA, do you know any more?
DARREN CLARKE: No. I wish I did. I wish I did.

Q. When is the cutoff?
DARREN CLARKE: There's a cutoff this weekend.

Q. That's their funny points system.
DARREN CLARKE: I don't know that either.

Q. Doesn't really involve The European Tour, does it?
DARREN CLARKE: All I believe is that I'm considered, that's what I'm aware of. So, we shall see. Hopefully it's to the positive.

Q. Did you get an invite before?
DARREN CLARKE: I got an invite last year. At Hazeltine, I got an invite last year. They were kind to me before, so hopefully they are kind to me again.

Q. Maybe that was it.

Q. How serious are your aspirations to being a playing member of The Ryder Cup?
DARREN CLARKE: I would love to. I would love to play. Of course I would love to.

Q. Talking the realistic element.
DARREN CLARKE: Well, if I play the way I can play, you know, I feel that I can still make the team. That's the way I look at it.

Q. What do you need to do?
DARREN CLARKE: Don't know.

Q. You just have to win.
DARREN CLARKE: I just have to play and I just have to play well, that's it. But in terms of -- do I think I can still make the team if I play well? Of course I can. Of course I can.

Q. You would have to get into the PGA to do so.
DARREN CLARKE: Correct. It's a big decision for me if they give me an invite to the PGA obviously. That's very important for my Ryder Cup aspirations.

Q. As a Ryder Cup vice captain --

Q. Can you envision a situation where Padraig Harrington, three-time Major Champion, will not be the tee?
DARREN CLARKE: Personally I can't envisage that situation but I'm not the captain.

Q. That's a good enough answer.
DARREN CLARKE: No, I couldn't envisage that. And as Pádraig was saying there, you know, maybe the superfluous things that he did well at The Open will transpire into good, positive things this week. (Laughter).

Q. Do you share that view?

Q. Maybe the superfluous things that he did.
DARREN CLARKE: You guys all know, we all know in here how good of a player Pádraig is. And it would be very difficult to see us going -- Pádraig not being on that team in Wales. That will be a very difficult scenario. As I say, it's not my position to say yes or no. I'm not the captain. But you know, obviously in this scenario, it would be good to see Pádraig play really well and qualify for the team and give Monty the extra choice of another pick. I think we would all like to see him qualify for the team and we hope he does.

Q. Does the weight that a three-time Major Champion brings to it --
DARREN CLARKE: And Pádraig is a world-class player, he just is.

Q. Who is going to lead the team?
DARREN CLARKE: (Laughter) Who is going to lead the team? Our captain, Mr. Montgomerie, is going to lead the team.

Q. I don't mean that way, the way Monty did as a player. Pádraig didn't want that role at Valhalla.
DARREN CLARKE: No, that's not quite Pádraig's way, is it. Pádraig's a quiet, unassuming man that goes about his business the best way that he can and has been very successful at doing it that way.

Q. So who --
DARREN CLARKE: You're probably going to have to look at Lee, aren't you. You'll probably have to look at Lee that way -- apart from me, if I don't make the team -- (laughter). I'm looking everywhere apart from Otway. Come on, ask me another intelligent question. Come on.

Q. You had a conversation in your room or in his room with Monty?
DARREN CLARKE: In my room, thank you.

Q. In your room --

Q. -- at St. Andrews about the vice captaincy.

Q. And obviously you said to him, 'I want to play if I can,' and he accepted that.

Q. Or he said he has. What would be the position if you got a win here and whatever, and you are in 10th, would you still be looking for a wild card rather than vice captain?
DARREN CLARKE: I would probably be talking to him very nicely, yes. The wild cards, no matter who they come down to, is going to be down to the captain to pick those, and that is probably the most unenviable position of the captain. It's probably the toughest thing that the captain -- he has a massive amount to do that week, but to tell some guys who are obviously great players that they have not been selected to the team, that must be one of the toughest parts of being The Ryder Cup Captain, but that just happens. You know, the captain will look at whomever he thinks is going to compliment the team the best, and that's what the picks are based on. So it's going to be a tough one.

Q. So in your discussions with him --
DARREN CLARKE: That be up to him to decide if he thought my game would benefit the team more than being vice captain. That's his call.

Q. Did you actually when you were approached by Monty about the voice captaincy and at the time currently you're still not within the points to qualify, did you in your own head remove the pick when you said yes to the vice captaincy?
DARREN CLARKE: Absolutely not, no. No.

Q. Playing on?
DARREN CLARKE: Not in the slightest. Monty said to me that he wanted me there one way or the other. So I said, that's fine by my.
So as soon as he asked me, you know, I certainly haven't -- I still haven't given up any aspirations, it might be possible for me to qualify for the team; so there's no way I would give up any aspirations of being on the team.

Q. Had being vice captain gone through your mind before?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, I didn't know I was going to be one until I had been asked.

Q. Had you been thinking about it, if I were asked I wouldn't mind doing that I won't be?
DARREN CLARKE: I had not been particularly thinking about it, no, I haven't. I want to play and play better like I did just around Loch Lomond time.

Q. Two years ago you won twice and didn't get picked. How resentful were you of Faldo?
DARREN CLARKE: I can sit here and say I wasn't resentful at all because I was disappointed I didn't make the team, because his criteria that he had set earlier that year was that he was going to look at the people that were on form for his picks, and not in terms of where I had ranked. And I had won the week before and I thought I had put myself in very strong position to merit a pick.
But as I said to Graham there, the captaincy, that's part of it. That's very, very tough. And the captain's picks are to benefit the team. And he obviously decided, Nick decided, that my presence wasn't going to benefit the team. And that's fine. That's the way it was. I was bitterly disappointed; but resentful, no, not at all, because it's a tough call.

Q. You would not understand anybody being resentful on this occasion if they were not picked for the team --
DARREN CLARKE: Of course but you have to take it whatever way you can. If you don't get a pick, you have the opportunity to qualify for the team. I had the opportunity to qualify for the team and play well enough to do it. You have the option if you play well enough you qualify for the team, you don't have to rely on the pick. That's the bottom line. If you get a pick, that's because the captain decides that you merit a pick for the team, whatever way he wants to put the team out.
You make picks, probably I would imagine because you already have some idea of fourballs partners, fourballs partners, so there for you're making your picks accordingly. You know, if you don't get a wild card pick, in my opinion, you've got no room to complain. Was I disappointed? Yes. Was I resentful? No. Because I had the same opportunities as everybody else to qualify for the team.
If I would have played better, I'd have qualified and that's the way I look at it. And that's the way that hopefully the guys that miss out there this time -- and there's going to be a few, that's the way it is. Play better is always, you know, the bottom line. Play better, you qualify for the team.

Q. Talking about partners, do you think that Bernhard Langer has played himself into contention for the team?
DARREN CLARKE: Which team?

Q. For The Ryder Cup Team?

Q. This year.
DARREN CLARKE: Have you been drinking?

Q. No.

Q. As winner of the British Senior Open?
DARREN CLARKE: No. I couldn't see that, no. I think Bernhard is a great player, has been a great player. I think he's obviously played great winning the British Seniors Open last week but it's a different field you're competing in the Senior British Open than you are week-in, week-out.

Q. If you're not in the PGA --

Q. What is your schedule? Czech Republic?
DARREN CLARKE: Moving the house. (Laughing).
I could do, I don't really know. It's tough at the moment for me to plan a schedule for that reason. If I have a good week this week, I move up the ranks, then yes, it would be stupid for me though not going to Czech. I'm going to play Gleneagles anyway because Monty wants us all there whenever the picks are announced. So I'm committed to Gleneagles anyway. Whether I play Czech, I don't know. I've got a couple of my academies with all of the young kids and different places around Ireland scheduled for that week, so I don't know.

Q. You wouldn't do the PGA and the Czech?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I would --

Q. You would if you could?
DARREN CLARKE: Depends how I get on with everything. It's a bit up in the air. I'll play -- if I still have a chance, you know, of making the team, and think I've got a genuine chance of making the team, I'll play. If I don't think I have a genuine chance, I won't play. And I'll be delighted to be there trying to help the guys in whatever way I can.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Darren, we wish you well with your quest.

End of FastScripts

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