?EURASIA CUP presented by DRB-HICOM
Friday, January 15, 2016
PAUL SYMES: Looking at the sheet, I’m sure gives you a lot of pleasure, a lot of points on the board for Europe, great start.
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, three-point lead after day one, it’s a wonderful start for Europe. There was a lot of matches there that it could have swung either way on the back nine. Halfway around, Europe were leading in all the matches. I was on the radio to a few of the other guys and said, this is match play, Asia are going to come back at some stage on the back nine, and that’s exactly what they did. We had a strong couple matches and managed to finish with a very good result.
PAUL SYMES: Looking forward to tomorrow, as well. Got the foursomes drawn up. Quite a lot of changes and two pairings that remain the same.
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, well, that’s what we did on — what day did we play a practice round, on Wednesday, we played foursomes. They are the same pairings as we played on Wednesday. Just a bit of a different order.
I have my thoughts as to which guy is going to tee off which hole and that’s what they are going to follow tomorrow. I’m very happy with the pairings and again, I can see lots of good matches there tomorrow.
Q. What was your message on the first tee?
DARREN CLARKE: I told them to go out and enjoy it. They have all been playing very, very well in practise. There’s quite a few guys here who are going to be pushing for Ryder Cup places later in the year. I told them to forget about that and to go out and enjoy themselves today. They don’t need to impress me. They have impressed me enough by being part of this team. Go out and play and enjoy themselves, and they all did.
Q. Can you give us an idea, Victor and Danny?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, Victor locked his knee looking at a putt and he locked his knee out on the 15th green. Physio come down and obviously was very concerned at the time. Victor wanted to play on anyway, even if it was on one leg, but sort of eased off. The physio game him some treatment and he was fine. Made birdie on the same hole. He was fine.
Danny, I tried to hit it too easy on 16, just a little twinge in his back. But they are both fine for tomorrow. They have no issues at all.
Q. From a personal point of view, now that the competition has started, how did you enjoy the first day as captain?
DARREN CLARKE: I enjoyed it obviously. We got off to pretty good — mind you, we were all-square, pretty tight early on. It was good. A couple of matches, everything got back to all-square, three of those matches got back to all-square, could have swung either way.
What I found most difficult was which match to follow. Unlike at The Ryder Cup where you have four matches, we have six matches here. I didn’t want any game to feel as if I wasn’t paying any attention, but there was a few matches on the back nine I felt like I should stay with because they were getting tighter and tighter. For the most part I really enjoyed it. It was good.
Q. One of the matches you haven’t changed is Shane Lowry and Andy Sullivan. What’s your thoughts on that?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, they get on great together. They wanted to play with each other, so that’s fine with me. They played really well again today. Their better-ball score was very, very good. They were partnered — I partnered them on Wednesday in the foursomes practise, and they played well. I see no reason to change that.
Q. Once the action starts, what is the role of captain?
DARREN CLARKE: Hope for the best. I can’t hit a shot. Just hopeful that the preparation and work that I put in beforehand is going to bear fruit, as it were, for a result, and it did today. That’s not to say the same thing is going happen tomorrow, because I know how good the Asian Team are, as well.
Certainly as the captain, you watch, you listen to everything that’s going on on the radio and you hope you’ve made the right decisions. So far, most decisions have been very, very good, so no problems.
Q. A lot of conversation as the round progresses, what is going on —
DARREN CLARKE: Now why would I tell you that? (Laughter) I know you’re going to ask but why would I tell you?
Just golf stuff. I know them. I know them well. I like to think that I know what makes them tick and what doesn’t. You know, golf stuff.
Q. How much player input goes into your pairings?
DARREN CLARKE: How much player input — well, I asked the guys, I asked all my players, any three players they want to play with. For the most part I listened to them. I know in my own mind, and with the backup of the stats people — if I can go back — each guy they play with, and the stats, the combination of the stats, as well, back that up, then I don’t think it’s too far wrong.
In terms of players telling me who they definitely want to play with, there’s no player on any team that I’ve been involved with that tells me, I don’t play with him and nobody else. That’s not the way certainly the European is. That’s not the way we work. We, as Europe, have always, as far as I’m aware, played with whomever the captain has asked and are happy to do so.
Q. These pairings that you had now, were made before play started today; were any changes between today’s fourball and the choice that you made for the foursome? So there weren’t any changes?
DARREN CLARKE: They were the same as they were in practise, so, no, no changes.
Q. Guys that may not qualify at Hazeltine, any potential vice captains at this stage?
DARREN CLARKE: Bernie, I’m thinking about this and not Hazeltine. Hazeltine is irrelevant right now. No.
This week is about trying, for us as a team, to show no complacency whatsoever and do our best again tomorrow and see where we’ll go from there. In terms of vice captains, no, I want the guys to go out and enjoy themselves again tomorrow and hopefully have another good day on the golf course.
Q. As a captain, you picked up Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, and you all know what they are capable of, and they showed it today. Both played wonderfully well. How satisfied do you feel when your picks work like that, and obviously you must be expecting them to do as well as they did today.
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, you know, I picked them not only for their experience, but I’ve been tracking their stats, as well, last year. Even though they haven’t won recently, their golf has been up to an incredible high standard. Their stats show that week-in, week-out. So I knew they were both playing well. They just have one or two bad holes, and when it comes to match play, that doesn’t really make that big a difference.
But when you combine the fact that Lee and Poults are playing as well as they are, with the experience that they have in the tournaments that they have done that in, they were pretty straightforward picks.
In terms of how satisfied do I feel, it’s not about me. It’s about the team; and they have contributed for the team, not with the team and that’s the most important thing.
Q. Will picking Westwood and Poulter this week give them any extra motivation to make The Ryder Cup Team?
DARREN CLARKE: I don’t think either Poults nor Lee Westwood nor anybody else on this team here for that matter needs any extra motivation to try and make the team. They all are desperate to make it. But every one of them, bar none, is more focused on this week.
People like Poults and Lee have played so much match-play golf, team match-play golf over the years, they enjoy it so much, and that’s so easy to see in the team room. And indeed, showing all the other young kids who haven’t had it before how much they enjoy it, it’s a huge benefit to everybody.
Would I expect Lee and Poults to get close to the team at the end of the year? Definitely expect them to get close. But I expect a lot of the other guys to get close, as well. The selections come September, wild cards will probably be based upon who is already on the team. If there’s older experienced guys on the team, then maybe I’ll go towards youth. If it’s all youth on the team, then I’m going to go towards the likes of Poults or Lee; not to say I will, maybe I will, but first and foremost, it’s about this week and carrying on from our good start.
PAUL SYMES: Thanks very much. Best of luck tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports