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'In-demand' Clarke begins epic journey in Brisbane

BRITISH OPEN champion Darren Clarke was a bit bleary-eyed today as he began the first of four weeks of golf in Australia, South Africa, Dubai and Thailand.

Less than 24 hours after arriving from his home in "wet and windy" Portrush, he sweated through nine holes of practice at the Hyatt Regency resort course preparing for this week's Australian PGA Championship on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane.

The global criss-crossing is a small price to pay for Clarke winning at Royal St George's in July, but just in case anyone had forgotten that, he had the claret jug with him.

"I don't take it everywhere, we take it to special places," Clarke said. "It's always nice to travel with, it's one of those things that people never really get a chance to see except on TV and in pictures. It was bent but it is straightened out a little bit now."

With manager Chubby Chandler sitting at the back of the room, Clarke said his life "hasn't really changed" since his three-stroke victory in England in July, which gave him his first major.

"As Chubby will tell you, I have led the life of a major champion before anyway, so nothing has really changed," said Clarke. "I am a little bit more in demand now than I was before, but it has all been good. If anything it has spurred me on to work harder."