Darren can be new Vijay Singh says Woosie

By Brian Keogh

Former Ryder Cup skipper Ian Woosnam believes Darren Clarke can become another Vijay Singh.

The Welsh wizard is convinced that Clarke's current slump and his injury problems are only temporary.

And he sees no reason why Clarke can't go on and become a multiple winner in his 40s - just like the Fijian.

Woosie said: "Everybody goes through a little bit of a bad spell and this is maybe the first bad spell that Darren has really had.

"He needs to settle down for a few weeks and get his swing going again and get some rhythm going.

"As for his injury, well, we're all getting older.

"Seriously though, everbody goes through it and he will come out the other side a better player. I am sure of it."

Clarke, 38, has won just 14 times around the world in a 17-year career - a poor ratio for a player of his ability.

But Woosnam think that the Dungannon man can go on and win consistently, providing he looks after his health.

Woosie said: "Some people are like that. They play fantastic and consistently well all the time but don't seem to win all the time.

"But a lot of people as they get older have done a lot more. Vijay didn't win all the time until he got into his mid 30s. Darren could be the same.

"His swing is very simple - a bit like mine - and if he keeps himself fit he will be fine."

Like Clarke, Woosnam has been plagued by injury and poor form this season

But he has no doubt that the Ulsterman will be back to his best once he gets a run of events under his belt.

He explained: "You can hit many balls on the practice ground or you can play a round with your mates, but it is not the same as having a card in your hand.

"That's when you know whether everything you have been working on is going to work on the golf course.

"Until you get tournament golf underneath your belt, you don't know what's happening."

Woosnam, 49, pulled out of the Madrid and Italian Opens with a leg problem and withdrew before the Masters started with related back trouble.

But he has been told that the problem is a virus, not the rheumatic disease he has battled with for 20 years.

As he prepared for the Irish Open, he said: "I'll give it a go. My legs are still aching a bit. I feel like I have done about six marathons.

"I need to start playing again and try and make the cut. I need to walk. What I haven't been able to do is walk."

Winner of the title in 1988 and 1989, Woosie remembers the good old days of the Irish Open.

Asked what was needed to make it great again, he said: "We need some good weather because it has been so bad for the last few years.

"I'm sure we'll get some great crowds. Everyone enjoys coming here."