In an exclusive interview with London’s Daily Telegraph, Darren Clark gave some insights into his dramatic encounter with Tiger Woods:-
It was another case of me turning up believing that Chubby Chandler [my agent] had more chance of winning it than me. In fact, that’s not as daft as it sounds, because I’d missed the cut at Riviera the previous week and we’d arrived at La Costa early. We went out and played on the other course there and, as if my confidence wasn’t low enough already, Chubby beat me 6 & 5.
It seemed to be pointless teeing up the following Wednesday. ‘If I can’t beat Chubby,’ I thought to myself, ‘then what chance do I have against the world’s best? I’d be better off going home.’ But I stayed, and as soon as the gun went off I started hitting the target.”
“I had breakfast with Tiger Woods, our caddies, Steve Williams and Billy Foster, Chubby and Butch Harmon. All week long I’d been winding Tiger up about the fact that I was 1–0 up over him at matchplay, because Lee [Westwood] and I had beaten him and David Duval at the 1999 Ryder Cup.
I don’t know what made me think of it but I remembered Tiger once having chipped in at Muirfield Village and running round the green doing very animated fist pumps. ‘Hey Tiger,’ I said. ‘If you chip in today and start one of those ——- exaggerated celebrations running round the green and fist-pumping, then I’ll give you a slap across the face.’
To which Tiger replied something along the lines of ‘Go away, you overweight sod; you couldn’t catch me anyway.’
If my message to Tiger was said with a smile on my face, there was an element of truth, because I have always been very keen on etiquette. The game means a great deal to me and I firmly believe it should always be played in the right manner. It’s a matter of showing respect for your opponent, something I have tried to adhere to from day one. I may have put a fist-clenched arm out occasionally, but only if it was to recognise something which really did mean something.”
“On the Sunday when you’ve won a tournament, that’s fine. I’ve seen guys fist-pumping after holing a three-footer on the third hole. What a load of nonsense. It just sits uncomfortably with me.
Previous generations of players didn’t do it and I tell my boys not to do it now. That’s not to say the guys that do it are wrong, but I just don’t see the game that way.”
[Clarke won the match 4 & 3]
“I was lucky that he had an off day. I don’t want that to come across as patronizing, but he just wasn’t quite at the races and I was.”
“By the time I’d done the presentation ceremony and the media, Tiger was long gone, but he’d left a note on my locker. ‘Congratulations, be proud’. There was a PS, however, with a ruder comment about my physique. I have the note framed at home.
I think Tiger respected me a bit more than just as a friend after that match. I’d not shied away from anything and in those days everybody was falling backwards for him. It was indeed a proud moment to realize I had beaten the best in the world at the time and arguably of all time.”
Courtesy of the The Telegraph.UK.