Sport Golf

Saturday 24 March 2018

Clarke struggling to stay patient

Darren Clarke will be hoping to reach the heights of 2011, when he was 'the Champion Golfer of the Year'
Darren Clarke will be hoping to reach the heights of 2011, when he was 'the Champion Golfer of the Year'
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Darren Clarke had a glint in his eye and a smile on his lips as he repeated the sweetest words that he would love to hear once more in his career.

With a glance over his shoulder, he said: "The ultimate thing is to have Mr Dawson say 'And the winner of the Gold Medal and the Champion Golfer of the Year with 276 strokes is Darren Clarke.'

"It doesn't get any better than that."

The aforementioned 'Mr Dawson' was none other than Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A, who happened to be passing at that precise moment, hence Clarke's digression from discussing his Open prospects.

There was, however, an obvious yearning in the happy memories of that famous triumph at Royal St George's in 2011 when Clarke was 'the Champion Golfer of the Year.'

It was only four years ago, but not much has happened on course since for Clarke (right) to write home about.

He does welcome the honour of Ryder Cup captaincy for 2016, and today he is due to receive the Freedom of the Links, an award given to Open winners every time the championship returns to St Andrews.

It all pales by comparison this week of all weeks.

History will record that Clarke is a Major winner and as a player he still wants to be competitive, even among this crowd of fearless young guns such as Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler who want to blow old fellas like him off the road.

Maybe in 25 years' time, they too will have to cope with the sense of frustration that underpins Clarke's efforts to match results with desire.

He freely admits that patience with his game, particularly on the greens, continues to elude him.

"Twenty-five years on Tour would drive anybody mad.

"My patience levels are low because I'm hitting good shots and not making any putts. It's frustrating to say the least.

"I've played much worse in my career and scored much better. If I'm hitting the ball well and not scoring, my patience tends to run out.

"It's not the way I'd like to be, but unfortunately that's the way it is," said Clarke.

Clarke loves the Open championship and he loves playing at St Andrews.

One aspect remains unchanged, even for an experienced professional after 24 Opens.

"The nerves will be the same as every year.

"The Open is always a special event, even more so when it's played here," he said.

Irish Independent

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