Exasperated Clarke heads for the bar

By Brian Keogh

Darren Clarke crashed to last place in the American Express Championship at Mount Juliet after playing his worst golf “for five years.”

Not even some words of advice from Tiger Woods on the range after his first round 75 made a difference.

The Dungannon man went out full of hope and took 76 yesterday.

Now he is so depressed that he joked that he’d be better off heading for the bar instead of the practice ground.

Alone in 64th place on seven over par, Clarke just can’t understand why things have gone so wrong for him in Kilkenny.

“It’s a mystery,” he said. “I haven’t played so poorly for quite some time. I’ve been putting the hours on the range in but I just can’t seem to do anything right this week. I haven’t played as bad as I did today for about five years.

“I was on the range until after seven o’clock last night but I would have been better off going for a couple of pints in the bar than going to the range.”

Clarke took five bogeys and managed just one birdie - on the par five eighth - in one of his worst displays of the year.

It means that the big Ulsterman has made 10 bogeys and one double bogey in 36 holes.

Out in the third group of the day with South African Tim Clark, he never got going once he had bogeyed the dangerous fourth.

With just 138 yards to the pin his wedge shot sailed over the back of the green and into the water - to the amazement of his caddie Billy Foster.

Another shot went at the seventh where he drove deep in the trees on the right.

After pitching and putting for his birdie at the par five eighth to turn in one over par, things got worse on the back nine.

In an unplayable lie after a drive into more trees at the 12th, Clarke holed a 15 footer for bogey and then repeated the trick at the next where he had dumped his wedge approach into the pond that fronts the green.

Now six over for the championship, Clarke parred his way to the 18th but finished with yet another bogey.

This time he tugged his second into the sand on the left of the green and splashed out 20 feet short of the flag for another miserable bogey.

And it looks as though he will need a radical change of form to recover in time for the Ryder Cup.

“The reason why I have been working so hard this week is trying to get myself ready for next week but I was hoping that through practising as hard this week then obviously I would play a little better than I’ve played so far this week.

“I’ve done the practise and I’m still doing it so I don’t know. I’ve just got to keep on doing what I’m doing and hopefully that it will turn around in time for next week.”

Clarke has been suffering form a slight head cold be he was offering no excuses for his poor showing at Mount Juliet.

“There’s no reason for what’s happening, I’m just doing the things that I usually do and just scoring dreadfully. I’m mystified and I’m just extremely disappointed to shoot 75-76.”