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September 28, 2011

Darren Clarke


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Darren, Welcome back to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - have you ever seen a more beautiful day in St Andrews?
DARREN CLARKE: It's one of he best we have ever seen here. I played the course on my own this morning. It was beautiful out there, nobody on the golf course, St. Andrews, no breeze, blue skies.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: How is your own game at the moment?
DARREN CLARKE: Not bad. I've work really hard the last couple of weeks but obviously it's good to get back on the links again.

Q. Your play at Vivendi --
DARREN CLARKE: I was just completely out of sync. The more I practised, the worse it got. The team won and that's what it was about.

Q. Coming back here as Open champion?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, obviously coming back to links again, especially here at St. Andrews and the weather we are going to get this week, it's fantastic. I obviously enjoy links golf, and you know, it's wonderful in these conditions, it's great.

Q. What makes this week so special?
DARREN CLARKE: It's three of the best courses in the world really. Kingsbarns is newer, obviously, a lot newer than the other two but you have the home of golf and you have one of the other major championship venues in Carnoustie, two fantastic golf courses.
At the moment, the amateur format is something that we all enjoy because Dunhill are massive sponsors for the Tour. They have a great field here and they have a lot of the best players in the world that come and play and the amateurs seem to enjoy it as well, so all in all, fantastic.

Q. But you all take it very seriously?
DARREN CLARKE: Oh, most definitely. We are playing for an awful of prize money this week, Ryder Cup points and World Ranking points. It's a huge tournament for us on The European Tour and what we are trying to do. First prize -- I don't even know. It's a lot. It's a lot of Ryder Cup points and World Ranking points. Yeah, we will be laughing and joking and carrying on with our partners but we are trying to play well obviously.

Q. You said after the trip to America for the PGA that it put you out of synch - is it getting back to normal?
DARREN CLARKE: Gleneagles, I didn't play, so I don't remember seeing that there -- I wasn't there, might have been somewhere else it definitely wasn't as Gleneagles.
I had a chaotic time after that, didn't have any time off, played nicely in Switzerland and putted poorly, and then Vivendi just wasn't quite at the races. It's been quite a tougher balance than I thought it would be with the commitments that I have to do, more commitments than I had to do before, and finding time to practise and do what I want.
It's a bit of a balancing act at the moment. Albeit, very good problem to have as Open Champion, but I'm certainly getting there, and as I say, I'm very happy with the way I'm hitting the ball.
I love playing links, and it's a format that I enjoy the most.

Q. How is Chubby's game?
DARREN CLARKE: Chubby is trying to move his left shoulder towards the golf ball. That in itself is a bit of a challenge. He may have a one-and-a-half-inch shoulder turn, which doesn't help when you're trying to play, we are trying to step up to two inches to see if he can get this way a little bit. We shall see. He's full of hope as he normally is.

Q. Any days off?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, some, but there's always something to do at home. It's busy. But that's part and parcel of the whole thing.

Q. Claret Jug been seen some action?
DARREN CLARKE: Like Somebody having too many drinks and me trying to straighten it out. Yes, it has. I have not managed to drop it yet, myself, but a few other people have. It can bend quite easily believe it or not. I won't tell you where it was but it's happened a few times, and it's not my fault.
Doesn't need to be repaired. Just a quick -- (laughter). It's all right. I mean, other people have obviously had a bit of fun with it before I got my hands on it, so I'm not the only one I'm sure. I did give it a bit of a twist to straighten it out a little bit.

Q. How many have you ordered?
DARREN CLARKE: I get one, the champion golfer gets one replica, and another arrived a couple of weeks for me at home and I'm allowed to order three, I believe, three other ones, so I've ordered the three other ones for different people -- that's irrelevant.

Q. Is it more special three months on?
DARREN CLARKE: It doesn't really feel any different. I've managed to win the tournament I've wanted to win from when I started playing the game of golf, the biggest and best tournament in the world. My difficulty since has been assessing some goals and fixing some goals. I've done what I always wanted to do, got to the top of the mountain.
So what else can compare it to? Winning it again? What else is there to do -- yes, they are all very important but The Open to me is the oldest, the biggest, the best there is. There's nothing more than The Open. It's been a bit of a time where I've struggled to it fix some other goals.

Q. What are the goals now?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, I have, from a few different people and I'm sort of getting my head around it now. Trying to win another one if I can. But the struggle with it -- if you ask anybody, if they achieve their lifetime goal how do you keep going and going and going, I have no idea. I couldn't quite figure out what my goals were going to be, especially at this stage much my career. It's not as if I'm 21 or 22. I'm 43 now. Whether I get another chance or couple of chances to win Majors, may not happen.
But am I happy with the one that I've got? Of course I am. Would I like to win more? Yes. But I've got the biggest and the best one.

Q. Where is the Claret Jug now?
DARREN CLARKE: It's here. It goes quite a few places with me. Obviously some of my sponsors like it to be there when I'm doing things with them. My mates like it sitting on the table whenever I arrive to have a few beverages now and again. It travels quite extensively.

Q. Inaudible.
DARREN CLARKE: Trying to get myself back up there and can do it again. Every major now for the next five years, so I'm going to have more chances to play well again. But from then until very recently -- just sorting out my goals. I have more idea what I'm trying to do now again.

Q. Can you share something special that they boys have said to you?
DARREN CLARKE: Don't really say much -- they completely take it in stride, another golf tournament, another win. It's what I do and it has not really -- the pair of them think that that's what they should be doing. I don't think that way but that's the way that they have been thinking.

Q. What was the reaction like when you got back - was there an element of 'you should have done this years ago'?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, a little bit of that. Yeah, it was. It was about time he did it and kind of made the joke that he wouldn't give it back to me and he took it away. There was a lot of that, sort of did what he should have done and all that sort of stuff.

Q. Is it easier to reset goals now that the Majors are out of the way for the year?
DARREN CLARKE: Neither, really. It's basically, I have a lot of big tournaments to play in between now and the end of the year, lot of World Ranking points and Ryder Cup points and I would dearly love to make the team next year and I want to give myself every chance I can to do that.
One of the things we touched on earlier was my time management, has not been as good as it should have been. I've been doing this and doing that and whatever and you know, some things I've had to say no to and I haven't been saying no to things. But if I say necessary to everybody, I'm going to have no time at all. It's been trying to manage my time more productively so I can work on my game.

Q. Inaudible.
DARREN CLARKE: I hope so. I hope so. My desire and determination is as strong as it's ever been, but in terms of my golfing career, I've won World Golf Championships events, I've won The Open, I've won tournaments all around the world. I've had a pretty decent career. At some stage in the future, I might be asked to be Ryder Cup Captain.
You know, what more could I do? I could win more Majors, yes, but all in all, I've had a pretty good -- the game has been very good to me. So I've been lucky.

DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I can, because you know, to perform at that level and to win, you know, obviously you have to be a pretty decent player to do that. And certainly saying that, others didn't win their first win till 42, like myself.
But yes, I can see how they can do it. It's one of those, you take a look -- I tried for so long to win one and you take a look at the other guys, multiple Major winners, and they are in a different league all together.

Q. Would you go to Gleneagles next year if you had to qualify for the team, or make an impression?
DARREN CLARKE: Very good question, if I had to go back I would definitely go back, yes. The Ryder Cup is much more important than my personal opinion.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Darren, thanks for joining us, good luck this week.

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