Clarke lashes IMG-run World Matchplay

Fuming Darren Clarke prepared for the start of American Express Championship by launching a bitter attack on the organiser of the stg £1 million Cisco World Matchplay at Wentworth.

The Big D is angry that he has been snubbed by organisers IMG for the event at the Surrey course from 17-20 October.

Ranked 17th in the world, Clarke failed to gain an invite to the exclusive 12-man event that is organised by Mark McCormack's International Management Group and sanctioned by the European Tour.

"It's ridiculous. They should call it the IMG World Invitational or the Mark McCormack Invitational, whichever one you want."

He added: "IMG are a law unto themselves. I'm ranked higher in the world than five of the players that are in it and I'm deemed not good enough to play.

"I'm perturbed and angry about it because it is a European Tour sanctioned event and as a European Tour sanctioned event there should be guidelines.

"I don't think it's right that they can do whatever they want to do and that's something that I will be taking issue with."

Ten of the 12 participants are managed by the IMG stable - defending champion Ian Woosnam, last year's runner up Padraig Harrington, 2001 US Open Champion Retief Goosen, Justin Rose, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Canadian Mike Weir and American Fred Funk.

Only Kiwi Michael Campbell and Open champion Ernie Els are managed by other companies and both of those players are also ranked above Clarke in the World rankings.

But Clarke is annoyed that Montgomerie, Rose, Funk, Weir and Faldo have been invited despite being ranked below him in the official world rankings but he is not going to let the matter lie.

He raged: "IMG can do whatever they want and that's not right for a European Tour sanctioned event. There should be a limited number of invites and then a set number of qualification guidelines by which you either get into the tournament or you don't.

"You should qualify through the world ranking or the order or merit or money list. It's typically pathetic of IMG and I'm not happy but that's them through and through. It's absolutely pathetic, 17th in the world and not good enough to play in their tournament."

According to the European Tour, players are invited based on the sponsor's agreed system of qualification with the tour.