Open champion Darren Clarke jumped out of his sick bed and into his sleek black Ferrari to be first to arrive at the Irish Open yesterday.
But while he’s keen, he’s certainly not green after roaring from Belfast to Killarney in a 200 mph, V12 petrol guzzler that does just 15 miles to the gallon.
Despite weekend headlines of “cash-flow” problems before the open, cash for petrol was the last thing on Dazza’s mind after his €3.2m Open windfall.
He just couldn’t wait to get to Kerry to celebrate his epic Sandwich victory with 100,000 fans in a sell-out Irish Open and help make the event one of the strongest in Europe again.
Keen to get back into the swing, Clarke said: “Last week was such a whirlwind for me in every way. I was doing this that and the other all over the place.
“It was a fantastic week but very tiring. So I couldn’t think of anything better than to come back and play in the Irish Open the week after. It’s just wonderful.”
Refusing to take the credit for the massive surge in ticket sales last Monday, Clarke said: “I hear ticket sales are fantastic and it’s sold out. But sales were going through the roof with Rory and G-Mac and Padraig here anyway.
“It’s great if they have sold so many tickets and are getting people to support our national open, which is brilliant.
“I hope they get the big crowds coming again and we get the good weather.”
Clarke has been in party mode since he claimed the Claret Jug just over a week ago to give Ireland an incredible sixth win from the last 17 majors
But the hard-drinking celebrations took a lot more out of him that he expected and went down with a cold at the weekend.
Insisting he’ll be ready to rumble on Thursday, Clarke explained: “I’ve been more or less in bed for the last couple of days but Ive been on Night Nurse and Day Nurse so I’ll be alright.
“I stayed down in Belfast last night so I was up early, was wide awake and hit the road. I was trying to miss the traffic around the M50.”
Pointing at the gleaming Ferrari 612 Scaglietti he bought 18 months ago, he didn’t reveal how long it took him to make the 300 mile trip south with the Claret Jug in the boot.
Smiling, he said simply: “It’s comfortable.”
Clarke is comfortable with his game too and his mission this week is to get back into the groove ahead of back to back appearances in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA over the next fortnight.
But he also wants to turn on the style in Killarney and help put the Irish Open back on the map.
Fully behind moves to find a new title sponsor that could see Royal Portrush host the Irish Open in the near future, he said: “I think Three have been a fantastic sponsor for the last two years and it’s a shame to lose them.
“But the Irish Open is a massive event and is full of tradition on the European Tour.
“Hopefully we can do all we can to keep it going, get it better and better and put it back up where it should be.”
Clarke shot down suggestions that he was struggling financially before he won the Open.
According to a Sunday newspaper, his agent Cubby Chandler said the 42-year old was “cash-strapped” until he won the €1m top prize and a €2.2m bonus from sponsors Dunlop
Eyeing his €250,000 motor, Clarke said: “Not particularly, no.”