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Clarke Enters - And Exits - Laughing

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Darren Clarke looked remarkably wide-awake at 8 in the morning for a man who treasures his sleep. He should be adjusted to the new wake-up hours by now, having played on the West Coast at Los Angeles last week (he missed the cut.) The eight hours time difference from his bed back home in Ireland doesnt seem so bad, though. The big fella still loves his shut-eye, his pastries and the good life.
 
Work-out is a phrase that hasnt caught on with him yet. The rest of the Accenture field was busy in the La Costa spa with the weights and bikes and gut-busting paraphernalia, but not Darren. He chuckled at the mention of the words weight loss.
 
Youve got to get the flu or something, get a tummy bug, thats the easiest way, he said, contemplating the prospect of weight reduction. And this winter, he had to admit that occasionally he had lost a pound or two. Ive been sick a little bit, he said, then laughed.
 
Clarke, who seems to do everything with extreme good nature, said he has no idea what his weight is. He looked to be about 240, give or take a few Twinkies, but professed ignorance as to the exact number.
 
I dont know ' it varies, he said. I have been doing a little stretching with John, the guy I was working last year. But I havent been doing an awfully lot.
 
Clarke, it must be said, walks about five miles every time he plays a round of golf. And it must be said that he was one of two men who played six rounds at this tournament ' the last round 36 holes - the last time it was played at La Costa, in 2000. The other was a gent named Tiger Woods. Oh ' the big guy won.
 
I was just walking around without a care in the world, Clarke remembered that day when he won, 4 and 2. Walked around, smoking a cigar and having a nice time on the golf course and that was it. It wasnt as if I was trying ' I mean, I was trying, but I didnt FEEL as if I was trying.
 
Clarke sighed. I wish it was that easy all the time, he said. Clarke, you see, at times has as much talent as anybody in the world. At times he looks absolutely unbeatable. Such is the ability of this big man. If you had to come up with a golfer to define streaky, Darren Clarke would be your man.
 
For all his size, Clarke is not a particularly big hitter. But he can be a great iron player. That was never more apparent than that day in 2000, when every second shot seemed to be right on the pin.
 
It was always me hitting first, he said, noting that he was forever further from the flag after the drive. So it was always me hitting first, so it was never really that much pressure on me hitting shots into the green.
 
Thats one of those things, if you can get in really close and put pressure on them. And because I was swinging particularly well that week, I was able to do. I missed very few greens that whole week.
 
Woods agreed. Every time he looked, another shot was in the shadow of the flagstick.
 
He didnt make many putts, Tiger noted. But he didnt have to.
 
Meaning, of course, that so many approaches were up next to their target that Clarke didnt have to spend much time lining up putts. The big guy knocked em close, then tapped em in.
 
That was supposed to signal a new Clarkie, one that was competing for world No. 1. That hasnt happened, of course.
 
The game ' youre continually learning, learning about my swing and what shots I should take on at the right time. Making the right decisions is the hardest part, he said.
 
I would not say that Im very good at that most of the time.
 
Thats a big confession. But it is the nature of this big man. Honesty ' and having a good time ' are the very best policies.