Darren Clarke hopes a change to his putting style will give him a grip on the Claret Jug.

The Ulsterman, 40, will be teeing it up in his 18th Open using the 2-Thumb fat grip made popular by Miguel Angel Jimenez and KJ Choi.

2-Thumb Clarke at TurnberryClarke changed to the new-fangled putter after watching Nick Dougherty in action in Paris two weeks ago and knocked in putts from all angles in last week’s Scottish Open.

Believing it could be the key to a Turnberry triumph, Clarke said: “I played with Nick Dougherty in Paris and I was talking to him about it and he was putting lovely and I thought I would have a go at it and it was very nice.

“I used it last week at Loch Lomond and it really takes the hands out of putting and makes it more of a stroke.

“I wouldn't say I live and die by my putting but it is always nice when putts are going in than not going in.”

Clarke had 24 single putts in Scotland and believes he is close to a major breakthrough despite the fact that he has not had a top-10 finish since the Africa Open in January.

In the French Open he finished with a quadruple bogey eight to settle for 31st and then took 77 in the last round at Loch Lomond to turn a potential top-10 into a share of 41st.

Still believing he can win a major, Clarke said: “There is nothing wrong with my golf at all. I am just not putting four scores together.

“I am extremely happy with how I am hitting the ball and I love links golf and the Open. This is a proper, proper links golf course and I feel comfortable here.”

After losing his wife Heather to cancer in 2006, single dad Clarke reckons he is mentally stronger than ever before.

Asked if he felt he was a major champion in waiting, he said: “I'd like to think so. In my own mind I am.”

Second in the Open at Troon in 1997 and third at Lytham in 2001, Clarke added: "Everything with me revolves around the confidence and the confidence is good. It took a bit of a dent in Loch Lomond but before that I was going the right way. If I’m confident I feel as if I can play well and win anywhere.

"I’ve been working really hard and trying to do all the right things and there are signs that my game is right there where I want it to be."