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July 18, 2011

Darren Clarke


LYNN WALLACE: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined by the 2011 Open Champion, Darren Clarke. I'm not sure if you've had the chance for it to sink in yet, but how does it feel to be Open Champion?
DARREN CLARKE: It still hasn't sunk in yet. You know, it's wonderful to -- I've looked at the trophy all night and sort of semi figured out it's mine. Nice to be, as you say, Open Champion. But it hasn't quite sunk in just yet.

Q. How much sleep did you get last night?
DARREN CLARKE: Zero. I've not been to bed yet. There's no surprise really, is there? It's now 10 past 9:00 and probably won't get any sleep until tomorrow at some stage. Have to enjoy it when you can.

Q. You hit 70 shots yesterday, how many pints did you have last night?
DARREN CLARKE: I had quite a few pints and quite a few beers and quite a few glasses of red wine, and it all continued until about 30 minutes ago. I did look at my watch before I said that, so it did take a while. But it's been a very good night.

Q. What messages have you had, and have you been able to read any?
DARREN CLARKE: I have 294 messages, and the writing is far too small for me to look at them in this state, so I may look at them tomorrow at some stage and figure them out.

Q. You said you'd speak to your kids when you left here last night, what was that like?
DARREN CLARKE: Tyrone, my oldest one, he was very pleased, very proud. He said he was going to tell everybody his dad was Open Champion. My younger boy, Conor, wanted to know what he could spend all the money on. So it was a huge difference between the two. But they were both very happy.

Q. Chubby said last night he thought the one thing you wouldn't be buying with your winnings would be a John Deere tractor. What have you got in mind?
DARREN CLARKE: I actually don't have anything in mind because I've been there, I've done that all before, haven't I. Fortunately I've had the opportunity to buy whatever I want to buy and have all that. This time I'm a little bit older and a little bit more sensible. If I can put a little bit more aside for my boys in the future, then that's what I'll do, as opposed to looking after myself.

Q. Much has been made of how much this is going to be worth to you financially, but when it comes down to it, when you see your name inscribed on the Claret Jug, isn't that just beyond price?
DARREN CLARKE: That is beyond price, yes. For all my golfing career, to get my name on here, it means more than anything. Chub will, as he always does, look after everything, and I'll be fortunate that it will benefit me hugely financially, but it's more to have my name on there, which is the most important thing.
But what's more important is when I get home maybe later on today and I have my boys, have the trophy in their hands and look at their dad's name on the trophy, that's even more important.

Q. What's been in the trophy overnight?
DARREN CLARKE: Actually there's been nothing in it overnight at all. There's been nothing in there. I'm a little bit of a traditionalist. I love the thought of whatever being in the trophy, but I'm a little bit of 2-iron as opposed to rescue, and I'm that sort of guy. I feel a bit funny about putting stuff in the Claret Jug that shouldn't be in there, so I'm a little bit more reserved as to what I should do. So there's nothing in it as yet. That may not be the case as the week goes by, but at the moment there's been nothing in there.

Q. What's it mean to have your parents with you? And could you talk a little bit about your dad's background as a greenkeeper and how that plays with what you accomplished.
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, well, my mom and dad, same as a lot of people, they're very normal, ordinary, down-to-earth people. My dad had different jobs when I was growing up, as did my mother, and all to support me and give me the opportunity to go play golf around the world.
Dad, within his greenkeeping stuff that he was doing, I was out there cutting the greens, as well. That was part of my early -- one of my very few jobs because he got promoted, I think. I was trying to go play the golf course and stuff, never mind cutting the greens.
It's wonderful to have them down here this week and share it with me and share a lifetime dream. It's not very often that somebody can share their dreams with their parents, and I've been able to do that this week, and that's very special.

Q. How do you think winning The Open sets you up as regards Ryder Cup captaincy? Does it make any difference? And is it still an ambition?
DARREN CLARKE: It is definitely still an ambition at some stage. I think at some stage if I get the opportunity to be Ryder Cup captain, possibly I may have a little bit more respect from players having been a major champion.
As to when that will be, it's down to the Committee if and when they ask me to be captain. Obviously the next one is -- where is it, Chicago next year? So unfortunately these points don't qualify for the team next year, but in saying that, I am a major champion, so Jose Maria will be paying attention, as he always does, so we'll see where that brings me.
When I'm possibly going to be captain, I don't know. It may or may not put my aspirations back a little bit, a couple of years from when I thought I may have been the captain. So we shall see and see what the Committee, when their thinking is it's best for me to be captain, if they ask me.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your caddie for The Open this week and last month. You had an interesting start to the week; you weren't quite getting on with him.
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, John has been fantastic. You know, I went to Mallorca six, seven weeks ago, and he was supposed to caddy for David Howell; he got injured. And then he was supposed to caddie for Martin la Faber; he got injured. Ricky Roberts was supposed to caddie for me and then he went to Ernie's induction to the Hall of Fame, Ernie Els, which was fine. And then I ended up with John Mulrooney working for me, which was wonderful. He's a really good guy. He's a little bit different, a little bit quiet, but a very, very good caddie. He's worked on some proper bags before. We went out that week and we won, and obviously then it was a case of having to call Ricky and saying, Ricky, I'm sorry, but I've just won with John, so with your permission I'd like to carry on with him. So Ricky was fine. I carried on with John, and he's been very good for me, obviously.
We had a tough week last week in Scotland where he didn't quite know what to do whenever I was having a little bit of wobbly on Sunday. But he's finally learnt and he knows a little bit better now, obviously a lot better now, as to what to say to me and how to deal with me. And this week has been absolutely fantastic. You know, he was spot on with his clubs. Everything that he did all week was very, very good.
You know, it's fantastic to have a nice caddie for a nice winner.

Q. Do you think you appreciate the success more now than if it happened to you maybe ten years ago?
DARREN CLARKE: Most definitely.

Q. Do you think you're a better player now?
DARREN CLARKE: I think I'm definitely a better player now than I was ten years ago. And yes, I definitely appreciate an awful lot more what I've achieved now than what I did then. Ten years ago maybe -- not maybe, I did take an awful lot of things for granted as a professional golfer. I played well and I won this and I achieved this and blah, blah, blah, but definitely I'm much more appreciative of what the sponsors do, of what the players do, of what the -- everything goes along with the tournament, and I'm much more switched on to everything that goes into the tournament than what I did ten years ago.
This week has been a combination of all that sort of things, much easier and much more -- it's been wonderful, and I'd like to think that I've thanked everybody along the way.

Q. You said during the week how good your attitude has been. I just wonder to what extent you attribute this victory to your sheer calmness and work that you've done with Bob Rotella.
DARREN CLARKE: A lot of it, because my attitude this week has been very, very good. I've been very calm, collected, and lots of the texts I've had from colleagues have been, I can't believe who calm you looked. But a lot of that has been down to Dr. Bob Rotella and a few other guys, Mike Finnigan and a few different people. But this week it's been very easy -- it's much easier to perform well with a smile on your face than a scowl on your face. Fortunately this week I've had a smile on my face much more often.

Q. The next Ryder Cup captaincy up for grabs is Gleneagles in 2014. I think it's fair to say that's not been your most popular venue in the past.
DARREN CLARKE: I didn't say that. Who said that?

Q. Would you have any concerns if you were offered the captaincy there?
DARREN CLARKE: That's a bit of a tough call because I've just won The Open. So I'd like to think that I can still contend for a place in 2014. So we will see.
But yes, I've made some disparaging remarks about Gleneagles in the past, and my views -- actually when it comes to my views, they're quite straightforward. And to me a spade is a spade and I'll say what I think. And to some people's liking and some people may not like it, but I'll say what I think. I've always done that, and I will stand by what I said. You know, at some stage in the future that may come back to get me, but I will always stand by what I've said.
But hopefully in 2014 I'm sure we're going to have a wonderful Ryder Cup. It will be a fantastic event, as it has been for numerous years now. In terms of me, I would love to be on the team playing in the 2014 Ryder Cup, never mind anything else. So we will see how things work out, and whatever role, if any, I have in it, I will be delighted to be there, hopefully be there.

Q. On the website for your foundation, you say the aim of the foundation is to introduce the game of golf to young people and the qualities of honesty, integrity, responsibility, fair play and equality. If you're thinking about a legacy associated with this win, would you want your reputation for adhering to those qualities to be that legacy?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, legacy is not really something that I think about an awful lot, but I just want the kids to have a good time that are involved in my foundation. I want them to enjoy the game, whatever form that may come in, whether it be a short-game clinic, whether it be a weekend where they're working hard on their games. All my stuff is to try to help the kids in whatever shape or fashion I can.
You know, as well as my foundation, I have my school in Antrim where I pop in and try -- I have 38 kids enrolled in the golf school over a two-year course, and I pop in there and try and help them as often as I can. My whole outlook on the game has come full circle where I'm trying to give back because the game has been very kind to me over a long period of time, so I'm trying to help the kids in any way I can.

Q. You have this reputation for playing the game in the right way.
DARREN CLARKE: Well, I try to play the game in the right way. The game, sometimes you -- as professionals you lose sight of the fact that it is a game, and I try and play it in the right manner. I try to play it in the way that it should be played. You know, there's give and take, there's sportsmanship, there's whatever you should do, and at the end of the day the best man wins. Shake their hand on the 18th green, have a drink with them afterwards and say, "thank you very much for the game." That's what I try to instill in all the people that come through my school and my foundation. It's a game at the end of the day. It's not life or death. It's a game, and enjoy it, play hard but enjoy it, and that's what I'm trying to do.

Q. Have you been asked to be Seve Trophy captain?
DARREN CLARKE: No, I have not, as yet. I have not been asked to be Seve Trophy captain. Will I qualify now?

Q. Would you want to be a captain?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, I wouldn't want to be a captain if I'm qualified for the team, no I'd prefer to play. I would still prefer to play in any role that I possibly can. Playing is much better than being a non-playing captain. If.
I'm in the team, I will most definitely prefer to play, under whichever captain that may be. I would be delighted to be part of the team.

Q. What would you think of the idea of having the Irish Open at Portrush next year as kind of a showcase for the whole thing?
DARREN CLARKE: That's a very political question, isn't it?

Q. I just mean to illustrate that it could facilitate --
DARREN CLARKE: Oh, it definitely could, definitely could. But to have the actual -- we've been struggling with the Irish Open now the past couple years. Since three pulled out, we've had a very tough time, and the Irish Open has been one of the oldest and most established tournaments on the European Tour. This year we've been fortunate that we're still down in Killarney, and I think our opportunity to keep it going, which I hope they will, if Portrush is part of it, that would be wonderful.
But yes, I know where you're coming from. We have fantastic players from up north right now, and if that's what it takes to get the Irish Open going, then yes, I would be delighted to be part of it.

Q. Peter Dawson probably made his strongest remarks in favour of an Open at Portrush and said that the achievements of the Northern Ireland golfers do increase the pressure. What's your thoughts on that? And are you proud if it goes there that you'll have done a lot to help it get there?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I met with Peter last night in the trophy room and with the R & A afterwards. But the logistics are very hard to measure in terms of The Open, how many people you're going to have, and bedrooms and all that sort of stuff. The R & A they've been doing it for a very long time, so they know what's required.
At the moment Royal Portrush has not quite come up to that requirements and their logistics. At some stage in the future hopefully they will do and they may look at it in a favourable manner and have The Open there. Until such time I would love to have it there, but until they deem that it's feasible, then it's nice to have the idea, but until they decide that yes, it's possible to have it there, we can't do anything about it.
From a personal point of view, I would love to see it going to Royal Portrush because it is every bit as good as any Open venue that's on the rota right now. But until the R & A take a look at it -- the logistics are huge. This week we've had unbelievable crowds. We've had 181,000, I think, spectators through the gates this week, and that has been fantastic. Any tournament that is sensational. They have to look at it from all different points of view. Do they think they'll get 181,000 people through the gates in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush? I'm sure they would but they have to look at other aspects outside of that to make sure the tournament works. So we will leave that to them.

Q. Rory didn't seem to be having quite so much fun yesterday. He often said it wasn't really his type of golf with the weather conditions. Any advice you would give him about winning a British Open?
DARREN CLARKE: There's lots of advice, but I'm not going to share it with you. I will share that with him in the coming weeks and what have you, but in terms of what he can do, he is as talented, even more talented, than anybody on the planet with what he can do with a golf ball. It's just a little bit of maybe intuition, maybe a little bit of direction from his old mentor that will point in the right direction. He'll be fine. He'll be okay.

Q. You've had, I'm sure, lots and lots of advice from all sorts of people going into majors about how to get over the line and win one. What changed this week? Did you actually listen for the first time?
DARREN CLARKE: Listen for the first time, I don't know. This week I felt very comfortable. It's been one of those sort of weird weeks. As Chubby says, it's once every three years that I get in the sort of in the frame of mind to listen this week. I've had so many texts this past -- last night from when I finished until this morning, from major championship winners, "welcome to the club," which has been wonderful. There's winning tournaments, there's winning big tournaments, but there's winning majors, which is just a little bit different.
You know, I can't put my finger on what's been different this week. I've just been very comfortable, and hopefully I will find that state of mind next month in Atlanta.

Q. Lee has made much about preparation, about exercise. I wonder if you're willing to embrace this in your new dawn?
DARREN CLARKE: (Hacking cough.) So you're trying to tell me that hiding athlete underneath this physique is maybe not all it's made out to be?
I don't know, it's different for different guys, isn't it? Lee has done everything he can do to get himself into contention to win. He has been there many times, got himself in a position. Unfortunately he's had guys that have played better than him on quite a few occasions, or they've had the bounce of the ball or things going their way.
Right now things haven't gone his way, but I'm sure that they will go his way because he's too good a player to not go his way. The game is fickle. It hammers you, it hammers you, and then it gives you something. Of all people, I think Lee Westwood deserves something to be given to him. And I'm very sure that he will win majors and not just a major. Right now it's been tough for him, obviously Rory winning and then me winning and stuff, and that will be hard on him. But if I was a gambling man, which I'm not, Chub, I would have a substantial bet on Lee Westwood winning the PGA in Atlanta. I hope he does.
LYNN WALLACE: Thanks very much for joining us this morning. Thank you.

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