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"I still can't f***ing putt!"

Open champion Darren Clarke. Picture Credit / Phil INGLIS / www.golffile.ieWhen Darren Clarke tees it up for captain Paul McGinley in next week’s Vivendi Seve Trophy it will be his first playing appearance in a team situation since he played so magnificently for Europe in the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club.

The reigning Open champion won three points out of three that week and may well be expected to produce a similar performance for McGinley’s GB&I side at Saint-Nom-la-Breteche near Paris.

Exactly which Darren turns up remains to be seen, if coach Pete Cowen’s amusing account of the goings on at Royal St George’s earlier this year are any indication.

Renowned as “a fixer” and set to try and put Padraig Harrington’s game to rights, Cowen would never have picked Clarke as a potential Open winner early that week.

The Ulsterman was certainly living up to his ‘Prince of Darkness’ nickname when Cowen caught up with him on the range at Sandwich:

“Darren walked up to me Tuesday morning at the Open, down the range near the Mizuno truck.

“And I said: ‘Alright, Darren?’

‘No, I’m f***ing not. I cant f***ing hit it. I’m f***ing useless. I’ve got no pressure on it, no flight, the f***ing spin is out of control, I’m hitting about that far behind it, I’m narrow on the downswing and I can’t f***ing putt.’

‘Oh. Okay. What are we going to do about that?’

‘We’d better f***ing sort it, f***ing right out.’

“So two hours later he’s hitting it great and turns around and says to me: ‘I still can’t f***ing putt!’

“I wish I’d had that tape recorder so I could play it back to him on the Sunday night [after winning] and say, ‘Who’s this guy?’”

Clarke has withdrawn from this week’s KLM Open after deciding late in the day to support the Vivendi Seve Trophy. But McGinley will get to meet several of his GB&I team members at Hilversumsche - Simon Dyson, Ross Fisher, Robert Rock, Scott Jamieson and David Horsey.

In fact, the event features a host of star names including Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy - the world No’s 2, 3 and 4.

The Irish challenge includes Clara’s Shane Lowry, who has brought his coach Neil Manchip to Holland after missing the last two cuts.

Down to 61st in the Race to Dubai standings, 24-year old Lowry must be in the top 60 after the UBS Hong Kong Open on December 4 if he wants to contest his first Dubai World Championship the following week.

Peter Lawrie (57th in the Race to Dubai), Michael Hoey (81st), Damien McGrane (95th) and Gareth Maybin (100th) complete the Irish contingent in the Netherlands.