Tuesday 25 April 2017

Clarke determined to kick on after Wentworth 66

Darren Clarke was in good form yesterday, both on the practice range and in the media room
Darren Clarke was in good form yesterday, both on the practice range and in the media room
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Darren Clarke got a glimpse of the player he used to be when he bowed out of the BMW PGA Championship with a fighting 66 in round four last Sunday.

Oh, how the Ryder Cup captain would love to put four rounds in the 60s, back to back, particularly this week.

The 46-year-old Open champion of 2011 is playing on fumes nowadays, despite changing his body shape, working incessantly on his swing and practising devotedly.

If intention and ambition were the criteria for enduring success, Clarke would have added a bagful of tournament wins to his Open win at Royal St George's in the last five years.

Instead, his has been a journey of frustration punctuated by some flashes of form and then back to trundling along the broad highway of hope - his world ranking his dropped to 466.

But Clarke refuses to bow the knee and meekly fade into oblivion.

"I'd love to have four consistent rounds like that one in Wentworth, but my work ethic is as strong as ever, my desire has increased, and although I'm 46, I'm trying to play my best," he said.

"Am I hard on myself? Absolutely, but I played well last week and just made some silly mistakes.

"In terms of my ball striking, it was really, really good again. Hopefully I can bring that with me this week and just kick on from last Sunday."

Clarke was in good form yesterday, both on the practice range and in the media room.

Behind it all, you just know that he's bursting with desire to strike a blow against the doubters and once again enter the winner's enclosure.

Can it happen this week? An interesting question for one of the home hopefuls, on a very tricky links challenge.

"This golf course requires a little bit more guile and patience than most courses," he explained.

"I haven't played here for at least 10 years, but the golf course, it's a proper test.

"It's not a coincidence that it's so high up on the list of golf courses in the world."

Alongside his playing duties, Clarke's Ryder Cup captaincy requires attention, and he announced that the points qualifying for Europe will begin at the Russian Open from September 3-6.

The skipper for Medinah 2016 also stated that he is delighted the qualification method remains the same as for 2014, which was five players from the World points list, four from the European points list, and three captain's picks.

Irish Independent

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