Clarke to play through the pain barrier

Darren Clarke admits he may have to “eat painkillers” to stay the distance at Augusta after picking up a groin strain in Houston. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieDarren Clarke insists he will “eat painkillers” to make sure he makes it to the tee for his eleventh Masters appearance this week.

The Open champion, 43, suffered a groin strain as he missed the cut in the Shell Houston Open last week.

But he insisted that he’ll battle through the pain barrier to tee it up alongside Fred Couples and Ryo Ishikawa at 6.20 pm (Irish time) tomorrow.

Determined to make the start after a five-year absence from the Masters, Clarke said: “I feel so-so but I’m going to try and play. It would take a lot to stop me this week, I’ve been looking forward to it so much.

“The groin is still sore but I haven’t had any treatment because there is nothing you can do except rest.

“There’s nothing else for it but eat painkillers for the week.”

The Dungannon ace spent the weekend at his house in the Bahamas but couldn’t practice until Monday and didn’t arrive to register at Augusta National until 2pm on Tuesday.

And as the last man in the field to arrive - he’s badge No 96 - he’s hoping that might be a good omen and end his a bad run of luck since his Open win.

He said: “I was the first man to check in here when I made my debut in 1998. The defending champion gets badge No 1 and I was No 2.

“Now I am the last man to turn up. I guess you could say I’m just trying something different.

“It was good to get some rest in the Bahamas and see my kids there but I’m currently just having a very tough time. What can you do. Your luck has got to change some time.”