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July 15, 2011

Darren Clarke


BERNIE McGUIRE: Darren, thanks for joining us here in the media centre. Two great rounds of 68, 4-under par. You must be very pleased with today's round.
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, it was a little bit more adventurous today than yesterday. There was some good and some not so good, but overall 68 is very pleasing.

Q. The last person we expected to see in here was you. Is that a mutual feeling?
DARREN CLARKE: I was hoping that you weren't in here (laughter), and I'd ask you to please throw this man out of the place. He irritates me on a weekly basis. He should be put down, shouldn't he? (Laughter).

Q. Now for a more respectful question: What would it mean to you to win an Open?
DARREN CLARKE: It would mean an awful lot, but obviously this is only after two rounds. There's an awful long way to go yet, and I believe the forecast for the weekend is very, very poor, which I quite look forward to. But the course is going to play very, very tough. If that's the case, then the tournament is still wide open for an awful lot of players, and will be.
So there's still two days of tough golf and tough weather ahead of us.

Q. I was out at the first tee yesterday and you were joking around with the crowd.
DARREN CLARKE: That was somebody whistling at me when I was bending over stretching. I said, "I hope that was a lady," was my response (laughter). He whistled again, same guy. I'm doing something all wrong.

Q. I was wondering has that lighthearted approach helped you out as far as your game these past two days?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, well, I'm like that most of the time. It's only whenever I start three-putting stuff that I get annoyed at myself.
It's been great, the support I've had the first two days has been fantastic. The shouting and roaring, it's been a while but it's several been very enjoyable, and it's definitely helped.

Q. Take us back and assess whether you've played as well as this in an Open since Lytham and possibly Troon?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I probably have. I've most definitely hit the ball as well. As I say, my putting has been average to say the least. It was pretty good about five or six weeks ago, whenever I won again, but overall it's been pretty average. But I've been fortunate this week to be able to spend a bit of time with Bob Rotella, an old friend, and we've worked on a few things and it's certainly helped.

Q. Why was there a big gap between your liaising with Dr. Bob? I understand you haven't seen him as much as you used to.
DARREN CLARKE: Probably 4,000 miles.

Q. Couldn't you use video and tech and all that stuff?
DARREN CLARKE: No, not really. I haven't been playing in America that much. Whenever I used to play over there I would see him frequently, but I'm playing more predominantly in Europe now. It's been tougher to see him.

Q. Did anybody ever take his place?
DARREN CLARKE: Many have tried (laughing). I've broken many of them, thank you. But Dr. Bob, his thought process is very simple, and that seems to suit me very well.

Q. You've had a little resurgence this year after a couple of lean years, certainly from the other side of the pond sort of being out of the picture. What do you put that down to, if there's any one single thing in your kind of rededication to getting back in the mix?
DARREN CLARKE: I've changed things about a little bit. I moved back home to Northern Ireland again to Portrush with my kids, their education. One of them had been boarding and the other one was about to go into a boarding school where I was living, so I took the opportunity to move back home, which was the right time for Tyrone, my first born, to be with everybody else. It's a lot easier to play better whenever family life and stuff at home much better, much more stable again.

Q. Clearly you believe you belong here at the very top of the leaderboard. Has there been any time where you've really doubted that you would ever get to where you are now?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I think if you ask any professional whenever they're not playing as well as they think they should be, we all get annoyed and frustrated with it. But I've been around long enough obviously, and won I don't know how many times, 20 times, 21 times tournaments or so. I've been around the mill for a while. So it never really disappears. Just trying to get it back out again. So far this week I've played quite nicely.

Q. In your heart do you really not just think you can win this but you believe that you can win this?
DARREN CLARKE: Of course I do.

Q. You're not just saying that?
DARREN CLARKE: No, of course I do.

Q. The roaring has been terrific over the first two rounds. How well are you going to be able to keep your head on if you're still in contention on Sunday?
DARREN CLARKE: The only roar is whenever in response to good shots, so I'd better keep hitting good shots, otherwise there won't be too many roars.
As I just said there earlier, it's an awful long way to go to Sunday, but no, I'm in a position which I'm very pleased to be in, and I want to keep getting better and better and better, and hopefully come Sunday get myself right in the mix.
This golf course, a funny bunch at the wrong time, anything can happen. But right now, I'm very pleased where I'm at.

Q. Switching your practice from Queenwood to Portrush, how much practising have been doing in bad weather in Portrush? And how will that stand you in good stead this weekend?
DARREN CLARKE: I've been doing a lot of practising in bad weather because that's usually what we get at Portrush. That's a little bit harsh. It's not always that bad. But it's certainly been tough conditions practising, not quite as easy as it was when I was living in London.
It's a case of getting used to playing in bad weather on links again, and that's what I've been doing all over the winter and stuff at home. Hopefully it will stand me in good stead.

Q. How much has the success of your young countrymen sort of lit a fire under you in this resurgence?
DARREN CLARKE: Their success hasn't really made any difference to me at all. I've been personally delighted for both of them. You know, we've got back-to-back U.S. Open champions from a little, small country like Northern Ireland. That's a massive achievement. You can't explain how big that actually is. We've got two wonderful ambassadors for Northern Ireland in G-Mac and Rory and it's been great.
So it hasn't really affected me apart from being proud that I'm from the same place as they are and I may have given them a little bit of a helping hand here and there on the way up.

Q. Did you have a feeling in practice that this could be a really good week?
DARREN CLARKE: No, because I didn't see Dr. Bob until Wednesday, at which stage I was struggling a little bit on the greens. I was hitting it okay. I was hitting it well but struggling a little bit on the greens, and then I just found my feeling, found a little bit of pace on the greens.

Q. I saw you hit a lot of good shots, what was the shot that you thought was perhaps the best shot of the day?
DARREN CLARKE: Probably my little cut 7-iron into the last hole. I had to give myself a chance to make birdie after throwing a couple away -- well, not throwing a couple away but a couple of mistakes on 14 and 16.

Q. A very, very brave line.
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, well --

Q. Deliberately?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I'm either very brave or very stupid. I don't know which one I am frequently. But it was a shot that I wanted to take on.

Q. Did you see Mr. Jiménez on the first tee today doing all his stretches and his exercises --
DARREN CLARKE: I didn't see him. What time was Miguel out at? I must have been on the golf course. Was he getting any wolf whistles, as well?

Q. He was.
DARREN CLARKE: There's a guy that stands on the first tee and waits for everybody to stretch.

Q. While he was doing all this he had this cigar in his mouth.
DARREN CLARKE: He's an athlete same as myself, obviously (laughter.)

Q. Can you just tell us some of what Rotella said to you.

Q. Not at all?
DARREN CLARKE: No. We just worked and covered a couple of bits and pieces that we've done in the past, just same old, same old.

Q. Did you mentor Rory and Graeme at all, or how would you describe your relationship with both of those guys?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, Rory came through my foundation, so I've known him since he was 12 or 13. G-Mac not so much because he had been in America and stuff, but I've played with them both and just given them a little bit of advice what they were going to do at the right times and in terms of what to expect when they come out and turn pro and just little bits and pieces, questions that really only somebody on the Tour can answer. You know, they took everything on board, and obviously all my advice was very, very good.

Q. On the radio this morning they were saying that Rory was under the Faldo thing. Did he go from you to Faldo?
DARREN CLARKE: No, everybody wanted him in everything. He was that good.

Q. But he was just with you?
DARREN CLARKE: No, I think he was in the Faldo one, as well. But you're not tied to whatever. It's just the next way of doing the same sort of thing that I do, trying to help the kids. That's what it's all about.

Q. Chubby was telling some of the boys the other day that you were thinking of enrolling in a Weight Watchers course next week. Is there any correlation between how well you play and how much --
DARREN CLARKE: Well, Chubby has always said that I play better fat, so I've been trying to -- I've obviously been adhering to that theory, and he has been going on with points and Weight Watchers and everything all week. And after having seen myself on television there and the highlights, I think he might have a point.

Q. You can't be unhappy with the way you played today, no matter how much you weigh?
DARREN CLARKE: No, not at all. If I would have been pretty big, and unfortunately that's the way I am.

Q. Has there ever been a correlation between how well you play and what you weigh that you've noticed?
DARREN CLARKE: No, I've played well both heavier than I am now and lighter than I am now, so there hasn't really been any correlation.

Q. You were at the Rory celebrations. Were there people there telling you, it's now your turn?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, there was a lot of people there telling me it's been great that those two boys can do it, it's your turn now and blah, blah, blah, but it was such a big deal to have Rory winning on the back of G-Mac, as well. Everybody was over the moon with it. But there was certainly a feeling of them telling me to get my finger out, et cetera, et cetera.

Q. Were you jealous?
DARREN CLARKE: No. Absolutely not. Why would I be jealous? I'm more proud than jealous. No, definitely not jealous.

Q. Following up on the celebration thing for Rory, is it true that you skipped a tournament you were scheduled to play to stay home?

Q. Or had you already gotten to the site and went back?
DARREN CLARKE: No, I was due to fly out, go to Munich on the Monday, and because I was sitting watching on Sunday night and obviously watching Rory win, and I spoke to one of our top tournament promoters Marco Kaussler from BMW, I spoke to him directly Monday morning and told him why I was withdrawing, and he was very understanding.

Q. When you played that amazing Ryder Cup at The K Club and everything that went with that, because that was such a significant moment in your life, if you are in contention on Sunday, can anything be worse than you had to face on that occasion?
DARREN CLARKE: No, absolutely not. Nothing could be more difficult than that particular week. And we had a good result at the end of the week, so it wasn't too bad.

Q. So this is a breeze?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, I wouldn't say it's a breeze, but nothing would be more difficult than it was at The K Club.

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