Darren Clarke Open Q&A
Darren Clarke was brought up playing links golf and tells Golf365 he’s looking forward to the Turnberry challenge.
Few British players have Open records as consistent as Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke.
He has thrived at Royal Lytham (11th on debut in 1996, third in 2001) and also enjoyed St Andrew’s (7th and 15th) but he has reserved his finest golf for the west coast of Scotland – second place behind Justin Leonard in 1997 at Troon and 11th at the same venue five years ago.
He is yet to play at Turnberry but he does enter Open week knowing that he proved his links pedigree again when winning the KLM Open at Kennemer last summer.
Clarke will be keen to rediscover that form this week and recently took some time out to discuss his prospects with Matt Cooper.
Golf365: Hello Darren, the Open is heading back to the west coast of Scotland – you’ve enjoyed it in that neck of the woods before so must be happy to be going back?
Darren Clarke: I’ve played well at Troon which is a great track. Same area, not same course though so we’ll see.
Golf365: You said at Troon five years ago that it has less crooked bounces than some links fairways and Turnberry is similar.
Darren Clarke: Well I’ve always said that about Troon and I think is goes for Turnberry too. It’s not as bad as other links courses. And I’ve had my fair share of them go sideways after you’ve hit a good one – that’s not fun! But accepting those bad breaks are all part of the challenge, the mental side of Open golf. It’s why you need to be calm in Open week.
Golf365: The last open at Turnberry was 1994 and you didn’t make your Open debut until 1996 so have you played the course?
Darren Clarke: Yeah, it’s a fantastic layout. I was there with my sponsor Barclays a couple of years ago. I haven’t seen the new tees which they have put in but I liked the course. It’s a great location, one of Britain’s most beautiful courses.
Golf365: You’re not scared of bad weather so would you like it to get tough?
Darren Clarke: Well, I’d prefer it to stay dry to be honest. No-one likes that, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of breeze. If it is windy then I think those of us with more experience of links golf will have a better chance because the course is right by the ocean and any sort of wind will throw a lot of players.
Golf365: You enjoy typical links golf: knocking 5-irons 120 yards into the wind or running an approach along the ground.
Darren Clarke: True. I love that aspect of links golf. It’s nice to be able to land a ball short of the green and slide it on to the putting surface rather than just bomb it over water and bunkers. That can get a bit boring.
Golf365: During the last 12 months you’ve played really well on the links. You won at Kennemer and then made the top 15 at Baltray in the Irish Open. Is your game in good nick for links golf?
Darren Clarke: I’ve been working really hard on my game recently and putting a lot of hours in. The work hasn’t yet come good yet so I’ve got to hope playing courses I like will be the prompt to play well.
Golf365: The stats say that at Wentworth and Baltray your long game was in good nick.
Darren Clarke: The problem at the moment is getting everything working at the same time. I just can’t seem to do it, but when it comes together I think I’ll do all right. I’m still motivated. Maybe I’ve become a little bit obsessive about my practice and gone over the line. I’m doing seven or eight hours a day and that can be just practice, not even getting on the course. I’m looking to change thing and look for quality instead of quantity. We’ll see if it pays off.
Golf365: Sometimes you have to wait for that effort to come good?
Darren Clarke: Yeah, I’ve been making silly mistakes, trying to push too hard and going for things that I shouldn’t be and it is costing me shots. But one thing is for sure – I won’t give up.
Golf365: You’ll be getting to Turnberry by car I guess but your old caddy Billy Foster is making life difficult for himself by walking there?!
Darren Clarke: Billy and me go back 11 years. We’re great friends even though we’re not working together any more. He’s been there through the good times and the bad times so I’ve got such a lot of time for him. For years he’s been saying that he’s going to do a sponsored walk and finally he’s done it: 90 miles with a tour bag from Loch Lomond to Turnberry for The Darren Clarke Foundation (breast cancer charities) and Candlelighters Children’s Cancer Trust. It’s a great effort.
Golf365: You’re launching the new Tiger Woods 10 for the Nintendo Wii. Have you played it much?
Darren Clarke: I have but the problem is that my boys Conor and Tyrone keep beating me. The good news is that it’s the first golf game to have new Wii Motion Plus technology. The attachment to the nunchuck means that players can experience much more realistic golf swings so hopefully I can start winning again – on the Wii and hopefully on the course as well.
Darren Clarke appears in EA SPORTS Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, out on all formats including Wii, and incorporating Nintendo’s new Wii MotionPlus technology.
For further information, visit Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10
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