Clarke looks to recapture major-winning form

Darren Clarke is looking to reclaim the form that propelled him to his first major at this year’s British Open when the Australian PGA Championship tees off on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 23 Nov 2011, 11:18 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:33 AM

The Northern Irishman was a hugely popular winner at Royal St George’s in July but has had a poor run of results and will face a tough challenge from Greg Chalmers, chasing a double on home soil after winning the Australian Open.

The field for the event which starts Thursday also includes Bubba Watson, a member of the US Presidents Cup team that beat the Internationals on Sunday, and rising American star Ricky Fowler.

Seven members of the defeated Internationals team have made the trip to Coolum — South Koreans Y.E. Yang and Kim Kyung-Tae along with Australians Geoff Ogilvy, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby.

Two-time British Open champion Greg Norman, the non-playing captain of the Internationals, will also be teeing off in the $1.5 million event.

Clarke only arrived in Australia on Monday but said he was impressed with the course.

‘It’s not the longest course, but the way they’ve got it set up dictates you don’t hit a driver everywhere,’ Clarke said.

‘It’s nice that the premiums are on accuracy as opposed to just bombing it everywhere. It’s different, but I was very impressed with it.’

The 43-year-old conceded he would be forced to rely on local knowledge to become more familiar with the resort course, 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Brisbane.

‘I don’t really know the course that well,’ he said.

‘I’ll be watching what the other guys are doing. There’s a couple of holes that I played that I asked some of the other caddies and other players how some of the other guys play it.

‘There seems to be a fair bit of local knowledge (required), so I’ll be picking a few people’s brains before starting Thursday.’

Norman, who will be playing alongside Clarke and Scott in the first two rounds, called on organisers to ensure the event reached the same level of prestige as the Australian Open, even though both have the same prizemoney.

‘I would like to see the regeneration of top-class players (at the PGA), Norman said, of the tournament, co-sanctioned by the OneAsia tour.

‘It’s totally up to the tournament directors. They can do it, there’s no question about it — we’ve done it before and we can do it again.’

The top US players were in Australia for the Presidents Cup and while most played the Australian Open in the lead-up to that event, including Tiger Woods, only Watson has stayed on for the PGA.

‘I’ve spoken to a lot of the American players and they all love Australia and they all say they’d come back here in a heartbeat and spend a week, or more,’ Norman said.

Chalmers, who stunned a high-class field to win the Australian Open earlier this month, said he was full of confidence after his efforts in holding off a rampant Woods in the final round.

‘It felt great to win. It had been coming for a while so the confidence is up.’

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