Saturday 7 December 2019

Slimline Darren Clarke hits the gym after superb 67 but admits: "I'm not a teetotaller angel"

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke tees off the 10th to start his round during day three of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke tees off the 10th to start his round during day three of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.

Carl Markham

Former Open champion Darren Clarke's new fitness regime meant he marked his best round of the week with a gym session and a couple of glasses of wine.

In the past the Northern Irishman would probably have washed down his 67 with plenty of Guinness, although not nearly as much as when he won the Claret Jug at Sandwich in 2011.

Instead the newly slimmed-down 45-year-old left Royal Liverpool and headed for the gym to reflect on his five-under total which, although being highly unlikely to allow him to win on Sunday, could propel him towards his highest major finish since his victory in 2011.

"It's not quite Jane Fonda's workout but I'll probably go to the gym this afternoon and lift some weights for 20, 25 minutes," he said.

"I'll probably have a couple of glasses of wine but that's about it - I'm not a teetotaller angel or anything, far from that."

Clarke has spoken extensively about how his new regime has allowed him to be quicker through the ball.

"I hoped it was the problem. If you've got 50 pounds or 60 pounds sitting in front of your gut you're going to swing a lot slower through the ball than what you would do otherwise," he added.

"I kept leaving the club behind me but I've done a few things this week and the club's got back in front of me again so it's been better.

"The ball-striking has been pretty good. I just need to knock in a few putts and get some momentum going and It feels like I've started to do that."

Saturday was an historic day after the R&A decided to have a two-tee start for the first time in the tournament's history because of an amber weather warning.

The predicted conditions never materialised but Clarke defended the move, even if he was surprised by it at first.

"Whenever I was told last night we were going to have a two-tee start I used a bit of foul language and called them a liar," he added.

"Obviously it's easy to say now that it was the wrong decision looking at the weather that we've had thus far but if they'd have had a couple of bolts of lightning it would have messed everybody's day up.

"They've had to do what they had to do to try to get it done today and they're trying to do what's best for the tournament so there can be no blame apportioned at all to the R&A for that.

"They were proved right. So it was slightly different because we've never done it before at the Open Championship.

"But they had to do it today, and it looks like they've made the perfect call."

Compatriot Graeme McDowell, who shot 68 to also be five under, was more questioning of the R&A's plan.

"I was disappointed. Getting out a couple of hours in front of the leaders can often be an advantage," he said.

"The decision to play two tees looks interesting now. It is better to be safe and sorry but they were good, easy conditions out there from the point of scoring.

"The first three or four holes were very wet and nasty but the back nine was played in much more benign conditions."

The form of another Northern Irishman, Rory McIlroy, means McDowell, like many of those on the first page of the leaderboard, is playing for a consolation prize.

"It has given me a shot at something tomorrow but I'm not expecting the lead to be coming back in my direction," he added.

"A solid top-10 or top five all I can really hope for. Rory's two 66s would have been tough to live with the first two days but there is no doubt I'm ruing that two-over par on Thursday in probably the easiest conditions this week."

Shane Lowry shot a 70 and is in a tie for 23rd on -3.

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