Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following piece from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.
By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
DARREN CLARKE JUMPED TO ATTENTION under doctor’s orders to putt his way into contention for major glory at the 140th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. The Ulster veteran, 42, cracked five birdies for a super 68 to finish just three shots behind first-round leaders Tom Lewis and Thomas Bjorn and immediately thanked mental guru Dr Bob Rotella. Now Clarke’s second-round 68 has given him the clubhouse lead at 4 under par as play continues on Friday.
After using the blade just 28 times on Thursday, Clarke beamed: “I’ve been lucky this week and seen an old friend of mine in Bob Rotella. I haven’t seen him for quite some time and was able to catch up with him because my ball striking and tee-to-green stuff has been very good, very solid, but the putter has been poor.”
Asked what the Doc had ordered, Clarke said: “He charges me a lot of money, so I can’t tell you that. But he knows me inside out. We’ve worked together for a very long time.”
Clarke said before the start that he needed his putter to fire on all cylinders to win the Open at his 21st attempt. While he’s won three times since 2008 with his latest victory coming in Mallorca this season, his cold putter has prevented him from re-establishing himself in the world’s top 100.
Ranked 111th starting the week, he has been overshadowed in the ISM stable by major winners Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy, as well as world No 2 Lee Westwood.
But Clarke showed he’s still a force to be reckoned with on links terrain as he survived some blustery early conditions and then took advantage of a drop in the wind late on Thursday afternoon.
Believing he’s got enough in the tank to keep it up, Clarke said: “I’m not that old yet, am I? I’m only 42. I still behave as if I’m 14.
“But no, I’m enjoying it. The golf course is great, fantastic. It’s the biggest and best tournament in the world. Why wouldn’t I enjoy it?”
Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.
(Photo: Courtesy of zrim, Flickr, Creative Commons license)