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July 28, 2011

Darren Clarke


Q. Your first competitive round since winning in Sandwich; how was it on the first tee being announced as Open Champion?
DARREN CLARKE: Wonderful, to tell you the truth. It was very nice. Especially here at home in Ireland, it was very good.

Q. Give us your thoughts on your play today.
DARREN CLARKE: A little bit of rustiness because I had last week off doing other things.
But then I finished a little bit stronger again, gave myself a lot of really good chances out there, and a little disappointed not to make the one on the last after hitting two good shots in there. Overall, 2-under is not a bad start at all.

Q. How are you feeling physically?
DARREN CLARKE: Not quite a hundred per cent. My self-inflicted flu has not quite gone away yet. I'm not feeling that strong at the moment. But that's no excuse. I'm feeling good enough to play well.

Q. Talk about the reception you received here this week.
DARREN CLARKE: It's been incredible. All of the people clapping and shouting for me. And you know, coming up the last there, I felt like I was coming up winning a tournament on a Sunday afternoon, any Sunday afternoon. It's been very special.

Q. You played quite beautiful at The Open Championship, Saturday particularly, and I interviewed Tom Watson last week and he shot 72 in difficult conditions just ahead of you, went and did some TV and was saying to me: I was in awe of Darren, he did not miss a shot, this is as good as I've of seen. How do you feel when a guy like that says that sort of thing?
DARREN CLARKE: That's very high praise indeed coming from the legend that Tom Watson is; and saying that, you know, he got the tough side of the draw and in fairness, we got the good side of the draw. But for him to -- sitting there and watching and praising me so much, you know, again, it's a very special thing for him to say towards me.

Q. What's the best thing about being Open Champion?
DARREN CLARKE: What's the best thing (pausing to think). I don't know what the best thing is. I don't know. To tell you the truth, it has not quite a hundred per cent sunk in yet. It's almost like Open Champion is, wow, hasn't quite got there. I don't know what the best thing is; just that I've managed to do it I suppose, after all these years of trying.
And you've been on the range watching me many times, as well, and working and working and working, and eventually dreams do come true.

Q. What did Conor and Tyrone have to say?
DARREN CLARKE: They were obviously very pleased. They are over the moon. They are down here this week, and The Open Champion was fortunate enough to bring them into the TaylorMade truck and the guys in the truck spoilt them; so a few more brownie points for dad and stuff. They are just happy. They are over the moon.

Q. Your first competitive round as The Open Champion; how did it feel to go off in Killarney as The Open Champion?
DARREN CLARKE: It was very special to be announced as Open Champion on the first tee. I know it was nice to go out and play pretty decent.

Q. On a given day, you're struggling this week, a little under the weather, given the manner of your 69 today, is it fair to say that you scrapped your way around to a 69?
DARREN CLARKE: I wouldn't quite say I scrapped my way around. I hit a lot of good shots and had lots of chances but didn't quite have the speed of the greens today. But you know, 69 was -- I think maybe one or two more than I felt I should have had, but overall 69 is pretty good.

Q. When you look at what Jeev Milkha Singh is putting together, did you think coming in with a 69, you would consider you are six shots back?
DARREN CLARKE: It's the first day of the golf tournament, there's a long way to go yet. I've been on Tour a long time. It's fine.

Q. Irish double would be something pretty special?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, it would be fantastic but again there's three more rounds of golf to go, and you know, got off to a decent start but I need to improve.

Q. Big galleries following you around.
DARREN CLARKE: They were brilliant. I have as many people walking around today shouting and roaring with me, and with Shane and myself and that group and Pádraig and Damien in the group behind; it was brilliant to have so many people out.

Q. Did you feel any extra pressure today going out as the Major Champion?
DARREN CLARKE: Absolutely not, no, no, I didn't. I was going out to try to play as well as I could that was all.

Q. Is the pressure off now?
DARREN CLARKE: Is the pressure off?

Q. Major Champion. No more pressure?
DARREN CLARKE: I didn't feel pressure, let's put it that way. I didn't feel possibly as pressurised as I have done in the past in previous Irish Opens.

Q. Can you go through your birdies?
DARREN CLARKE: First hole, I hit driver and I just pushed it a hair, missed in the fairway, kicked right and right into the hazard and had had to take a drop, the lie was shocking in the stoney sand things. Hit a drop to ten feet and missed par are par 7.
7, driver, rescue on to the green, 40 feet, two putts.
9, driver, right-hand rough, 8-iron to seven feet.
Bogey, hit a poor tee shot, tried to hit a low fade and pulled it left into the rough and struggled from there.
16, good drive, really good rescue on to the green. If it moves a foot left, it's stone stiff, but hit a good putt, just didn't go in.
17, good 3-wood, nice little 50-degree wedge again to about eight feet.

Q. Were you waiting to be introduced as Open Champion?
DARREN CLARKE: No. No, I wasn't. No, I wasn't. I was just ready to play. I was trying to figure out what shot I was going to hit.

Q. Did you milk it?
DARREN CLARKE: No, not at all. Not at all.

Q. Did you feel that the putt you made on the last hole in the final round was the key moment?

Q. In The Open.
DARREN CLARKE: Oh, no, there was lots of key moments. That was a good one, yes, but there was lots.

Q. What pleased you most about today?
DARREN CLARKE: That I finished strongly. I could easily have finished birdie, birdie, birdie, because I hit two great shots. I hit a great 6-iron into the last and hit a really great putt and slightly miss-read it. You know, I finished strongly.

Q. Did it keep you going during the day the way the crowds just kept really clapping everywhere?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, the crowds were magnificent today. They were really good. I've said that earlier, they were great, and they have been absolutely brilliant to me.

Q. The way that you are treated at this tournament is different to anything you've ever experienced before. What will it do for you to keep this sort of feeling going, and the good vibes that it generates?
DARREN CLARKE: I don't know. I've just got to keep playing well. That's what I'm trying to do, and that's what I want to do.
Yes, it's wonderful being Open Champion, but I've still got to keep on trying to get myself into position to contend for tournaments on Sunday afternoons.

Q. Do you feel this is a serious week now that you've got off to this kind of start?
DARREN CLARKE: It was always going to be a serious sort of week. I didn't come down here to make up the numbers. I want to come down here and play well. Today is not bad. There's room for improvement, so I'll go to the range now and work on a couple of things and hopefully come out even better for tomorrow morning.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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