Darren Clarke wants to ride his magic putting carpet to a Ryder Cup return at Celtic Manor.

The Ulsterman, 41, believes he’s close to rediscovering his touch at last after slaving for six weeks on a special putting mat at his London home.

On the face of things, Clarke's putting was what prevented him making it tougher for Charl Schwartel to win his second successive tournament at last week's Joburg Open. Still, Clarke's not prepared to turn his nose up at a second place finish that has pushed him back into the world's top 100 and he believes the putter is starting to warm up at last.

There's still a long way to go before he makes it back into the top 50 but he's feeling positive as he tees it up in this week's star-studded Abu Dhabi Championship and the Dubai Desert Classic in two weeks' time.

Hoping his game will stay hot on the desert, Clarke said: “The putting's still a work on progress but it feels good. I really want to make that Ryder Cup team this year, so I need results and I need to start climbing the rankings fast.

“I put in a 15-foot putting mat in my games room at the end of the season, spent six weeks working on my technique and the results are starting to show.

“My coach Phil Kenyon stayed for a few days when the weather was really bad and we identified a few things that weren’t quite right."

Clarke feels he was lucky to escape the snow storms at home and was pleased to give his game a serious test run with back to back events in South Africa.

He's back at No 95 in the world rankings but his goal is to get back into top 50 so he can tee it up in events like the Masters and the megabucks World Golf Championships.

He said: “If I want to make this Ryder Cup team, I've got to get more points on the board and that means getting back into the top 50 and the WGCs."

Clarke also has a new caddie in Englishman Mike Boddy and insisted: "The enthusiasm and the fire is definitely there. The first two weeks have been pretty good.”