Clarke set to start 2009 in Africa Open

Darren Clarke looks set to tee off his 2009 campaign in the Sunshine Tour’s Africa Open at the East London Golf Club from January 15-18.

According to Grant Wilson, the chief operating officer of the Sunshine Tour, the Ulsterman will join Retief Goosen and Angel Cabrera in the field for the R5-million (€390,000) event.

And that means that Clarke will not be appearing with triple Major winner Padraig Harrington in the European Tour’s clashing Abu Dhabi Championship.

Last year, the inaugural Africa Open was held at Fish River Sun but with the Buffalo City and the Amatola region getting behind it, the Sunshine Tour has announced that the East London Golf Club will host the event for the next three years.

Wilson said: "With an increase of prize fund to R5 million, The Africa Open has become one of the most important events on our schedule. The Sunshine Tour is proud to be associated with Buffalo City and the Amatola region and we are excited about presenting a golf tournament of international stature at East London Golf Club in January."

Meanwhile, negotiations are underway with the European Tour to co-sanction this event and that would mean a major tournament on the calendar for East London in the future.