Clarke eyes Tiger at Amex

By Brian Keogh

Tiger chasing Darren Clarke will bid to add to his world title collection when he tees it up with Ryder Cup rival Phil Mickelson at Mount Juliet tomorrow.

The Big D skinned the biggest cat of all at Carlsbad in the matchplay final two years ago when he beat Tiger Woods by 4 and 2.

Now Clarke is ready to capture his second World Golf Championship title - this time on home soil.

"After the Majors the world championship events are the ones we most want to win," he said.

"We work all year to win a Major but after that these four world events are the next best thing.

"And I love this course. I was attached here for a while at the start of my career and I feel very proud to be from here considering the way the course has been set up."

"Playing with Phil in the first round will be nice for all the fans. He's a great player but we will both be concentrating on doing our own thing rather than thinking about the Belfry next week."

Clarke has had a quiet season, winning just once at the Compass English Open in early June, his eighth European Tour win.

Ranked 23rd in the Volvo Order of Merit with 719,000 euro, it is his slowest start to the season for over five years.

Apart from his win at the Forest of Arden, his only managed just two top ten finishes on the European tour - at the Dubai Desert Classic and he Volvo PGA championship.

Poor putting has plagued Clarke this season but he feels that he has ironed out his problems recently thanks to a practice club that allows him to set the ball off perfectly on line.

"Scotty Cameron designed the club for me," he said. "And I've been putting a lot better recently as a result.

"But I'm not unhappy with my game and the fact that the Ryder Cup is next week isn't going to affect me at all."

Five of Europe's Ryder Cup side have failed to qualify for this week's $5.5 million event - Lee Westwood, Paul McGinley, Pierre Fulke, Phillip Price and Jesper Parnevik.

But Clarke doesn't feel that the fact that they are missing out this week will affect their performances at the Belfry.

"Not at all," he said. "It's not going to make a bit of difference. The tournament has rules and even if some of them were eligible last year you can't change them to let them play again.

"But I don't think they are going to be in the least bit worried about not taking part this week. It just gives you and extra bit of time to get ready."