Darren Clarke’s magnificent Open Championship victory at Royal St George’s was arguably the highlight of the golfing summer. In the third instalment of our review of 2011, we look back at some of the most significant quotes this year. (Read Part I, Part II)
“I didn’t read the notices and my caddie misinterpreted them.”
Damien McGrane is one of four players disqualified for signing for a wrong score in the opening round of the Open de France. He failed to read a local rule and was disqualified for taking an incorrect drop on the water-protected, par-four 18th.
“I have known Holly for six years, and for a 22 year old that is a big part of my life. At the start of the year I wanted to focus on my game, and just take a break or whatever. But I realised pretty quickly that I had made a mistake, and I had to do a lot of begging and grovelling to get her back.”
Rory McIlroy tells CNN’s Piers Morgan how important Holly Sweeney is to him.
“Obviously I respect everything that Tiger has done and as a kid I was in awe of what he was doing. But I am supposed to be a competitor of his now. I can’t be in awe of what he does or anything like that.”
Rory McIlroy’s view on his former idol, Tiger Woods.
“Europe lost a genius this year (in Seve) but has found his replacement. Pure genius and a display of the most natural golf ability we’ve seen in a very, very long time.”
Greg Norman on Rory McIlroy’s US Open win.
“Holing the winning putt in The 2002 Ryder Cup at the Belfry was probably the highlight of my career and is what I will be remembered for.”
Paul McGinley before his 500th European Tour appearance in the Scottish Open.
“I am hitting my putts really badly, as bad as I’ve ever hit them.”
Padraig Harrington fails to make the weekend at Sandwich.
“I’ve always enjoyed the mental side of the game but I wouldn’t say I’m enjoying it so much right now because I’m a bit of a mental case out there.”
Graeme McDowell after missing the cut in the Open.
“Did I ever doubt myself? No. Did I ever think that I wouldn’t get myself back into this position? Yeah. I never knew I was going to do that. Did I ever doubt my own ability? Never. Not at any stage. Did I get frustrated and fed up and annoyed? Yeah. Did I doubt my ability? No.”
Darren Clarke asks and answers all the key questions on the eve of the final round at Sandwich.
“I’m not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. It’s not my sort of golf.”
Rory McIlroy slags off the weather at the Open and lands himself in hot water with the British press.
“I’ve been writing this speech for 20 years now and it’s been a long bumpy road. I’ve had good and bad things happen to me on the way. Sometimes I was good, sometimes I was bad but I have had so much support from everyone. There might be lots of Irish black stuff in this trophy this evening as I’m fond of a beverage from time to time. This means a lot to me and my family and as you may know there is someone up there looking down on me as well. I can’t thank you enough for the support I’ve had this past four days. The roaring has helped me to stand here and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart… If it hadn’t come off and I hadn’t won, I could still have said I did my best. I ask my two boys to do their best and that’s what they do, so I think their dad should try and do the same.”
Champion golfer Darren Clarke on the 18th green at Royal St George’s.
“There was a period when I gave myself airs and graces and I was a bit of a horrible prat. I’d have a bad round and I wouldn’t speak to you guys. I’d be rude and it wasn’t right. But I hope I’ve learned from my mistakes… You have to be careful with that sort of stuff where I live now because otherwise you come across as the flash w***er who lives on top of the hill.”
Darren Clarke speaking to a group of mainly British journalists invited to his celebration barbecue on Sunday night.
“Rory, we’ve got to look after, he is so young you could burn him out. Whereas Darren is burned out a few times already.”
Chubby Chandler on his plans for the Open champion.
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
Bob Rotella inspires Darren Clarke to take it easy during the Open with a quote from Vince Lombardi.
“We have had our ups and downs and we turned up here hardly speaking. Was I almost sacked? Well, he almost ended up getting the boot as well… We call it ‘The Madness’. Golfers get the madness. It’s the kind of game that can drive you mad.”
Caddie John Mulrooney on his tense relationship with Darren Clarke early in Open week.
“You guys get them when they’re disappointed, when they have just finished. So what comes out of their mouth, Bubba Watson style isn’t always what they are thinking.”
Chubby Chandler calls for a wide berth for McIlroy after his negative comments on playing in bad weather.
“Rory McIlroy’s long-time relationship with Holly Sweeney came to an amicable end before the Open Championship.”
ISM statement issued shortly before pictures of McIlroy kissing Caroline Wozniacki appeared on the internet.
“That was just Chubby being Chubby!”
Darren Clarke plays down his agent’s claim that he seriously considered quitting golf after a bad weekend in the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco in April.
“It was not easy, but I knew if I kept the ball in play and made pars I would have a great chance to win and it worked out.”
Lisa Maguire made a mockery of her non-selection for the GB&I Vagliano Trophy side when she became the first Irish player to win the prestigious European Ladies Individual Amateur Championship at wind-lashed Noordwijk in the Netherlands.
“It’s a fascinating subject. The likes of Dr Bob Rotella say you shape your own destiny, it’s all in your own hands, yet I believe the golfing gods have a lot to do with it. Especially in an event like The Open, where even getting on the right side of the draw is a massive thing- that’s another way in which things worked in Darren’s favour.”
Paul McGinley on what Seve called ‘destino’.
“Not particularly, no.”
So said Darren Clarke, glancing sideways at his Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, when asked if he was struggling financially following reports of cash flow problems.
“Certainly, if I look at any part of my game this year, I’ve been erratic on the greens. It’s nice to know what other people go through. Certainly I’ve seen it in me over the first six months of a few tournaments and go, ‘God, I’d hate to feel like this it all the time’.”
Padraig Harrington on his putting woes. They didn’t go away.
“If I don’t get annoyed when I play poorly, I’m in the wrong job. I’m not going to be sweetness and light all the time if I’ve had a bad day.”
Darren Clarke doesn’t quite reject the dark side altogether.
“Shut up…. You’re a commentator and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing!”
Rory McIlroy reacts angrily on Twitter after on-course commentator Jay Townsend tweeted that he’d just watched “some of the worst course management I have ever seen beyond under 10’s boys golf competition.” McIlroy had 545,000 followers at the time. By the end of the year he had close to 760,000.
“I’m not thinking of changing personnel. I’ve got to change something in myself, attitude or something along the lines of that.”
Padraig Harrington after missing the cut in the Irish Open. Less than 24 hours later, he sacked Bob Torrance.
“I don’t really have any respect for the man after what he did, or after what he has done the last three years… I know he was on Tour for six years and he finished second in the Heineken Classic or whatever it was. But he doesn’t need to be that opinionated. I don’t care if he criticises me, because I’m the golfer; I’m the one that hits the shots and I can take the criticism. It’s JP who doesn’t have to do this and can’t stand up for himself in the media.”
Rory McIlroy stands by his tweets about Jay Townsend.
“[The decision] was taken yesterday evening after I decided I needed a change. We always had a good argument. But at the moment there is less arguing, there is just more frustration and tension rather than getting it out there. I think it comes down to the fact that I want to spend more time working on my mental game and my short game than necessarily beating balls, which I would have done earlier on in my career. I would have hit a lot more balls and done less short game, whereas I want to do more mental stuff and short game now. If I win a tournament next week or in six weeks’ time, or in two years’ time or in 10 years’ time, my swing will be based on what Bob has taught me. At the end of the day that is never going to change. He has shaped and put his mark on my golf swing that will be there for the rest of my life, everything about it. Bob has been unbelievably important in my career and he has completely shaped it. But at the moment I am frustrated and I don’t know if I want him standing looking at me and when he is not standing looking at me I am not happy either… This is a selfish decision at the end of day. I have certainly tried to leave the door open for myself. At the end of the day I don’t want to break the relationship with Bob but I have got to see what else is out there.”
Padraig Harrington on his reasons for sacking 79-year old coach Bob Torrance after almost 15 years together.
“He has been going down one road that I think is the wrong one and he is determined to go down that road. I said to him, if you go down too far, you won’t come back. You cannot make changes at 40 in golf. You can make them when you are in your 20’s, but once you get to 40, it is too late… His game is in bad shape because of his mind, not because of his golf. I’ve said that and he agrees. That’s why he wants away.”
Bob Torrance on his split with Padraig Harrington.
“You’ve got to be nuts to play this game well… Something had to break really with Pádraig. He’s been working too hard to not get any results. I can’t think of anyone other than maybe Vijay who grinds like Pádraig does. At some point you just need to hear something different.”
Graeme McDowell on the Harrington-Torrance break-up.
“It would be a dream to come back some day and win the Irish Open. I’ve learnt that I don’t have to do anything different to compete with these guys, just go and play my own game.”
Paul Cutler after finishing tied 21st as an amateur in Killarney.
“I’m absolutely made up. I came in playing some very good golf, but I didn’t think it would be that good. I impressed myself a little bit to be honest.”
Irish Open champion Simon Dyson.
“Because beneath it all, beneath all the stuff that’s happened, self-inflicted or otherwise, he is essentially a really good kid, a man, beneath everything.”
Darren Clarke on why we should root for Tiger Woods.
“I feel as if I play my best golf over here. I’m very comfortable in this country. I’m going to look at a few houses down in Florida after the (US) PGA.”
Rory McIlroy all but confirms that he’s rejoining the PGA Tour in 2012.
“I have had security guards at my house every night since I won the US Open, patrolling around the area. It is something that I just had to put in place, I’m afraid.”
Rory McIlroy on how life has changed for him in Northern Ireland since he won his first major.
“This was the most satisfying win of my career.”
Caddie Steve Williams steals Adam Scott’s thunder at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Williams did not miss the opportunity to dig the knife into ex-boss Tiger Woods, who has sacked him just a month earlier after 12 years and 13 majors wins together.
“I asked Pete Cowen to have a look and he gave me his opinion and watched me hit a few shots and it is certainly something different.”
Padraig Harrington seeks help less than a week after sacking Bob Torrance.
“Obviously I asked him a bit what he was working on and he actually didn’t know, which I found amazing. He said, ‘Well I don’t know. I haven’t got a clue. I asked what he’d worked on in the past and he said, ‘This, this and this but I don’t really understand’.”
Coach Pete Cowen on his chats with Padraig Harrington.
“It would be a huge honor to represent… your country in the Olympics.”
Rory McIlroy sits on the fence this time when asked about golf in the Games.
“He’s my caddy, not my father.”
Rory McIlroy rejects claims that his bagman JP Fitzgerald should have stopped him playing the fateful seven-iron from a tree root in the first round on the US PGA. He ended up in hospital with a badly injured wrist.
“He showed some Bradley toughness. We’re an Irish family and we have that Irish toughness and he showed that today. I am just so very proud of him the way he fought back and brought it home.”
Hall of Fame legend Pat Bradely on nephew Keegan’s US PGA victory.
“Why do I do it to myself?”
The self-effacing reaction of Padraig Harrington after a wobbly finish left him sweating to see if he’d done enough to make the top 125 who would tee it up in the first event of the FedEx Cup play-offs. He had. Just.
“As I said, once it’s within the rules, I wouldn’t use it for myself. But who knows what I’ll need to do in years to come.”
Harrington won’t say ‘never’ when it comes to the long putter.
“The groove change rule has made a massive change to my game. An incredibly big change. A massive change. I would say the game is a lot easier with the other grooves for me.”
Padraig Harrington confesses that life is tougher for him without square grooves.
“Well, if I wanted to make a flute, there was a courgette taken from my garden recently that would have comfortably done the job. It was 16 inches. I didn’t grow it personally. My kids grew it. You were probably hoping I was going to say cello, weren’t you?”
Padraig Harrington on the musical instrument he might fashion from a vegetable.
“Darren walked up to me Tuesday morning at the Open, down the range near the Mizuno truck. And I said: ‘Alright, Darren?’
‘No, I’m f***ing not. I cant f***ing hit it. I’m f***ing useless. I’ve got no pressure on it, no flight, the f***ing spin is out of control, I’m hitting about that far behind it, I’m narrow on the downswing and I can’t f***ing putt.’
‘Oh. Okay. What are we going to do about that?’
‘We’d better f***ing sort it, f***ing right out.’
“So two hours later he’s hitting it great and turns around and says to me: ‘I still can’t f***ing putt!’
“I wish I’d had that tape recorder so I could play it back to him on the Sunday night [after winning] and say, ‘Who’s this guy?’”
Coach Pete Cowen hilariously recalls Darren Clarke’s pessimism early in Open week.
“It was like a dream come true. I said on Friday this was how I wanted to end my amateur career and it’s worked out fine.”
Paul Cutler on winning the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen. He was unbeaten in his last event as an amateur.
“I didn’t have the normal childhood, per se, growing up in the spotlight.”
Michelle Wie on being a child prodigy.
“I’ve been in agony all day. The players have had such heart and passion and purpose. I hand it all to them. They’ve been unbelievable.”
European skipper Alison Nicholas on Europe’s dramatic 15-13 Solheim Cup victory at Killeen Castle.
“At some stage in the future I might be asked to be Ryder Cup captain. What more could I do?”
Darren Clarke wants to be Ryder Cup captain. The question is, when?