DARREN CLARKE is busting his gut to get back into the top flight of world professional golf.
Clarke's 2011 British Open victory made him the perfect talisman for chubby golfers everywhere to eat, drink and be merry.
But the 45-year-old Ulsterman has shattered that image by shedding three stone since October on a scientific diet and fitness plan devised by Jamie Myerscough at Dublin's Educogym.
"I could always play, whether fat or thin," explained Clarke (above). "I wouldn't say I'm thin but now I'm this size, hopefully I just may have more good weeks on Tour. I feel twice as strong and will not fatigue that easily."
The Ulsterman is convinced his programme will help him climb the world rankings after slumping to a lowly 297th.
"I dieted before but didn't do the weights to get myself stronger," he said. "I didn't take all the protein supplements and amino acids. I wasn't that careful about my diet. So this time I've done it properly, not just losing weight."
Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell has been honoured by the Golf Writers Association of America for his accommodation and insight with the media, winning the ASAP Sports Jim Murray Award for 2013. Padraig Harrington was accorded the same honour four years ago.