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An Interview With: Darren Clarke

JULIUS MASON: Darren Clarke, ladies and gentlemen, at 8-under after the second round of the 86th PGA Championship.

Some thoughts on the round today.

DARREN CLARKE: Pretty good, considering I got on the back side very early with that double-bogey on 11, my second hole. My caddie, Billy, told me ahead[] and aim at that TV tower, and I managed to pick the wrong one, so I was surprised to find myself in the edge of the bunker in a horrible lie. From the there it came out funny low left into the other bunker. When I got up to it, it was in a hole in the other bunker. I could not get it out of there. I was having a little bit of fun at that stage. I thought how many goes can I have at this hole.

Walked off with a 7, just was very patient, didn't go at any silly flags.

14, I hit 3-iron, lob-wedge to about three feet and holed it.

16, I hit driver, 3-iron from the edge, two putts.

17, I hit 5-iron to about 20 feet and holed it.

2nd, I hit driver into the left-hand bunker, let up a 5-iron, pitched it to about five feet and holed it.

No. 6, pushed my tee shot right in the rough, got a flyer over the back of the green, dead, no chance of getting up-and-down.

No. 7, I hit 3-iron onto the front of the green and holed it from about 100 foot, which was a big surprise.

And then No. 8, got my back straight away, his a drive and pulled a 4-iron just off the left. Putted it to about five feet and missed it.

Q. Tiger is right at the cut number right now and has a couple of holes left, 17 and 18. Would you be surprised, shocked, or what would be your reaction should he not make the cut?

DARREN CLARKE: If I was sitting here whenever he's finished, I'll give you the answer to that one. At the moment -- if I was still sitting here whenever he was finished, I could answer that. At the moment, I don't know what's going to happen.

Q. For the next two days the leaderboard looks like it's going to be really interesting with quite a few people playing well; Ernie is looking for one finally this year. Do you have any idea what it might take or what it might be like over the next two days to emerge at the top?

DARREN CLARKE: It all depends what the weather is going to do. It all depends if it's going to blow or if it's not going to blow. If it blows hard like it did at the start of the week, two level par rounds, 9-, 10-under par could win. If it doesn't blow, then it's probably going to be maybe 14-under, something like that. It's all totally dependent upon the weather.

Q. Do you think it's easier to play better when everyone in your group is playing better, too? Do you feed off each other, or don't you believe in that?

DARREN CLARKE: It's always easier whenever all of the guys in the group are playing well. You know, you see good shots go into greens all the time and that makes it a lot easier to do the same yourself.

Q. Did you realize which TV tower? And tell us about the conversation when it was discovered that you had aimed at the wrong one.

DARREN CLARKE: We had gone through it in practice, whenever we were in the practice rounds, what to aim at, and I had completely forgot about it. I was trying to punch a 3-iron down in the fairway to play sensible, keep it on the level but not be too aggressive. Hit a 3-iron, hit it absolutely perfect, about 20-foot off, and I looked at Billy and said, "It's perfect," and he said, "Well, actually it's a bit right." We're halfway down and he said, "You do know which TV tower I was talking about, don't you?" I said, "Yeah, the one on the right," and he said, "No, it was the one on the left." [] It was all my fault. I didn't really pay that much attention.

Q. I was going to ask whether you were kidding about that.

DARREN CLARKE: No, no, I'm serious.

Q. Did you see this play coming? Were there any precursors where you figured your practice rounds, anything about the course you really liked?

DARREN CLARKE: No, I've been playing reasonably well for most of the year. Just haven't been putting the scores together. My ball-striking has not been quite as good as it has been this week. I have been playing okay. I haven't been making my share on the greens, and this week, albeit today I didn't make that many, but it's been a little bit better.

Q. Is it a compliment if someone says you're the best player now that has not won a major? Is that okay with you for now?

DARREN CLARKE: I would love to have that compliment. Definitely for now it wouldn't be derogatory. But I think there's a few other guys probably would have a better claim to that than myself. But if you want to say it, that's fine with me (laughter).

Q. You said yesterday you played so well from tee-to-green, you didn't get a chance to do all of the things that you had worked with Stan Utley on. How many of those other elements did you have a chance to use today and how did they work?

DARREN CLARKE: I think I hit -- just looking at my stats here, I hit 15 greens the first -- yesterday, and I hit 15 greens again today. So I'm not missing any, but I'm doing a really good job when I do miss them in that I'm dead when I do miss them. So it doesn't make any difference how much practice I've done with Stan, I have no chance of getting them up-and-down. Just keep on hitting greens and stuff; I'm very happy to keep on working on the putting aspect of it.

Q. I followed you out there the whole time, and the numbers you were putting up, were you surprised at the galleries, and did you think there would be more people following you guys around?

DARREN CLARKE: Not really. We were just out trying to play as well as we can. We're not really paying any attention to what's going on outside the ropes. We were all trying to feed off each other and do as well as we could.

Q. There are directional signs out here, Portrush, 3,000 miles, County Down. It looks a little bit like Ireland, or does it not? Is it playing anything at all like courses over there?

DARREN CLARKE: It doesn't really play -- it looks like it, but it doesn't really play like it because the grass is different. The ball runs a lot when you're playing proper links and you can chase the ball onto the greens, whereas here with the bentgrass, you can't really do that. So you stand there and you take a look at it and you could be back at home somewhere. If the wind blows, you could definitely be at home.

JULIUS MASON: Darren Clarke, ladies and gentlemen.

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