| 16.9°C Dublin

Clarke out to win his way into Ryder action

Darren Clarke wants nothing more than to get back into the European Ryder Cup team in 2010, but the Northern Irishman knows he must first start winning again.

The 41-year-old is in East London, South Africa this week, where he tees off in the Africa Open later today, and, after a forgettable past 12 months, he is hoping for redemption in the new year.

Clarke, one of the heroes of the 2006 Ryder Cup victory at The K Club in Ireland, had only three top-10 finishes in 2009, the best of which came at the KLM Open in Zandvoort, where he tied for fifth.

By his own admission, it was a poor year and he is now keener than ever to make amends, with one eye firmly set on the contest against the United States in nine months' time.

"Yeah (it's a big year for me), that's why I'm here," he said. "As well as enjoying coming back to South Africa and being down here and playing, I like the golf course.

"I missed it (the Ryder Cup) the last time. I thought I had a good chance of making it but I missed it and I desperately want to get back on the team again. So that's the idea behind the early start."

Meanwhile, Colin Montgomerie believes a win for Europe at the Royal Trophy this week would prove an important step in their preparations for the Ryder Cup later this year.

The 46-year-old Scot captains the European side as they look to exact revenge on Asia for their 10-6 defeat last year and he has also decided to include himself as a player on the team to observe potential players for his team at Celtic Manor in October.

Last year's defeat in Thailand came hot on the heels of Europe's crippling loss to the US at the 2008 Ryder Cup and Montgomerie is eager to restore the side's reputation in team golf.

"It is an important year for European golf in 2010, culminating in the Ryder Cup in October," said the eight-time Order of Merit winner.

"We have a great wealth of talent in Europe. We have seven possibilities here this week to show off their skills and we look forward trying to regain the Royal Trophy against a very strong Asian team."