Darren Clarke appears to be jinxed when it comes to four wheels after a mystery “traffic accident” forced him to withdraw from this week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
The 2011 Open champion was originally entered for the final event of the European Tour’s desert swing but his name was notably absent from the entry list over the weekend.
A query to his management company, ISM, brought a guarded response with a spokesman reporting: “Darren was involved in a minor traffic accident last week and is suffering from a bit of stiffness. That’s all we know.”
No more information was forthcoming.
The Ulsterman, 44, has a colourful history when it comes to cars, motorbikes and even golf buggies.
In the 2008 Australian Open at Royal Sydney he was lucky to limp away with nothing more than a bruised leg when he went head first into a bunker in a runaway golf cart.
He was being driven off the course with Australia’s Robert Allenby after torrential rain stopped play but the driver sent to retrieve the players from the furthest point on the course failed to notice the yawning bunker in the middle of the sixth fairway.
The buggy careered down a steep slope into the trap, flipped over and threw everyone from the cart.
Relieved to escape serious injury, Clarke said at the time: “We were very lucky, it could have been much worse.”
While Clarke wasn’t at the wheel that time, his love of high-speed vehicles cost him in May 2007.
The Ryder Cup star suffered severe bruising when he flipped his 250cc off-road buggy in a field at his Surrey home just days before the PGA Championship at Wentworth.
At the time Clarke revealed: “I flipped it over, it rolled several times and even went head over tip. It has a four point harness and it’s a proper piece of kit. It’s not a toy. But I’ve flipped it.
“I’ve been out in it 15 or 18 times and never even threatened to flip it but this time I did it good and proper.”
A few years earlier, Clarke took delivery of a high-speed trike for Christmas and immediately crashed it into the wall of his garage.
He eventually sold the Hells Angels style bike to pal Sam Torrance.
According to an AP report from Dubai, Clarke’s manager Andrew “Chubby” Chandler confirmed that he will play as scheduled in India next week:
…Clarke suffered a stiff neck and “just needed to rest this week” after a car in which he was a passenger was in an accident. He says the accident was last week, but didn’t provide other details.
Clarke will be one of 24 players taking part in next week’s inaugural Pearl Golf Premier League. The event, inspired by cricket’s Indian Premier League, features eight franchises that have bought the players at an auction. The teams take part in a 14-hole competition rather than the traditional 18 at the Aamby Valley golf course from Feb. 7-10.