Darren Clarke will get straight back into the fray next week when he kicks off a hectic three-week run in the Irish Open.
Putting the celebrations on hold for a few hours, the Open champion was in London yesterday to pick up his £2m bonus cheque from sponsors Dunlop Collection - owned by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct group.
But it will soon be all work and no play for Ireland’s latest major winner as he heads from Killarney to Akron for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and from there to Atlanta for the US PGA.
His WeightWatchers diet has been put on the backburner as he piles on the calories with celebratory pints. But he’ll soon be sweating off those extra pounds with his first appearance in a World Golf Championship for two years.
Unfazed by the heat that awaits him at Firestone, where he won by four shots in 2003, or Atlanta Athletic Club, Clarke said: “It will be nothing like The Open. But it’s fine. I’ve won on those kind of golf courses in America as well. And it will be good for the diet with the heat and the sweating.
“I’ve managed to forget about the diet currently. It will be nice to get over there. I’ve missed playing in some of those bigger tournaments around the world.
“Now I’m back into all of them again. It’s fantastic. I’m into all the Majors. If I can give myself an opportunity or two with Dunlop to give me another nice cheque, it will be fantastic. I may not be the best advert for a sportswear company – but we come in all shapes and sizes.”
Clarke can win another £2m cheque from Ashley but not until next season as their 10-year deal, which runs out in 2015, allows for only one major-winning pay off per year.
That won’t stop him from getting into party mood in Killarney and he confessed that it will be impossible to resist having a few pints of the black stuff when he joins fellow major winners Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy for what promises to be an electric Irish Open.
“Could I go through the Irish without a pint? No chance. It’s essential rocket fuel, without a doubt. I will have a few pints early in the week but I will be ready to play on Thursday.”
Clarke could be forgiven for taking time off following his maiden major win at Royal St George’s but his victory came at the busiest time of the year for the top players and it’s a problem he’s delighted to have.
“Rory McIlroy had the chance to take a few weeks off after winning the US Open but I really want to play,” he said of the Irish Open. “With me, Rory and Graeme McDowell all playing it will be a fantastic event.”
Clarke avoided having to qualify for the Open by the skin of his teeth. He claimed the final qualifying place from the Race to Dubai standings last season when he edged out Italian young gun Matteo Manassero for 30th place by just €1,986.
“Me and Matteo were very close,” Clarke said. “But looking back now, to just sneak in by a very small margin and be sitting here now with the trophy is just wonderful.”