Darren Clarke on fitness, his OCD, Ryder Cup disappointment, Olympics and more

Darren Clarke on fitness, his OCD, Ryder Cup disappointment, Olympics and more
Before and after. Darren Clarke has lost more than four stones thanks to his workout regime

Before and after. Darren Clarke has lost more than four stones thanks to his workout regime

Darren Clarke spoke at length at the Educogym sponsored "Evening with Darren Clarke" at The K Club's Smurfit Course last week.

There were plenty of laughs, including the moment his stunning wife Alison explained how the Ulsterman's obsessiveness — "I have OCD anyway. Alison will attest to my OCD stuff. When I get something to do, I will push it to the nth degree. I am like Padraig. When I get the bug, I can’t leave it alone" — affects his new-found fitness regime.

"We’ve got a new word in house," Alison said as her husband protested in horror as she took th mike. "Instead of OCD we have ODC. He does work very hard."

His OCD even extends to his fashion sense in the gym.

"Everything is matching," she said. "He can’t wear the wrong shorts with the wrong vest. Everything has to match. "

Clarke touched on many subjects in an interview conducted by Tipperary man Shane O'Donoghue, familiar to golfing audiences via his work with CNN.

On his chances of winning next year’s Open at St Andrews

I most definitely think I could (win). If we get some so-so weather, I know how to play a links as well as anybody does, always have done. If you put me playing decent golf on a links course, I’ll play anybody. If I got to the stage where I didn’t think I could win, I would give up playing. If you don’t believe, you will never achieve.

On his putting woes

If I keep putting the way I am, I am going to have to ask my missus who owns a modelling agency for a few jobs here or there because I have to bring some money in some way or another. I am hitting the ball further than I have ever hit it. I am striking it better. I just can’t score. But golf is a funny game. It gives you when you least expect it and takes away when you also least expect it.

On whether he has any desire to play golf in the 2016 Olympics

Absolutely none. I grew up thinking the Olympics should be for amateurs. I think it’s great golf is in the Olympics because it is reaching a much wider audience and will develop the game. But my opinion is that the Olympics should be the pinnacle of amateur, not professional sport. That’s the way it was when I was going up.

On the lack of emerging Irish pros

Jamie’s (Myerscough’s) next project should be the Irish amateur team. We have players pushing through but they need to be strong and better. The standard coming out on tour is getting better and better and better. We are just going through a little bit of a lull. We have been fortunate in Ireland and had a good run of successful golfers and we need more people to come after us to keep that going. If Jamie gets the youngsters bigger and stronger, that will be better.

On being denied a Ryder Cup wildcard by Nick Faldo in 2008 

Yes I was disappointed I didn’t get picked because I won two weeks before the team was announced. But as I have gotten a little bit older and watched things, I think one of the toughest jobs a Ryder Cup captain has is making the picks and leaving guys out that may help, or may not. You’ve just got to look at this year. Paul had tough calls to make and he made the right ones. So while I was annoyed or disappointed I didn’t get a pick, I completely respected his decision because that’s what captains have to do. That’s a hard call they have to make.

On the emotion of bringing the Claret Jug home to his boys

Tyrone and Conor,have been through so much in their short lives. It was so very tough for them losing their Mum. To have a special moment with them and have them say, “well done dad”, that was I feel very fortunate that I was able to give my kids a little bit of something and they were able to look at their dad and say, ‘You did okay dad.’ I’ve had a few, but that was one of the most special moments of my life. Much more special than winning [The Open].

On his physical transformation

I feel better. When I go down to the gym at home, I will put my shorts on, no shirt, no nothing. I would never have done that before. But I feel better, I feel stronger. I am in the best shape I have ever been in my life and I am proud of the work I have put in. I have had a lot of sacrifices. If I was going out for a night with my mates at home, I’d have gone out and had 12 pints of Guinness. And then some more. Jamie persuaded me to have one pint of Guinness and 11 gin and tonics. The end result is the same and I feel alright.

On his fitness regrets

I went through my career enjoying myself and being fit didn’t figure in what I wanted to do. With what Tiger had achieved and the bar that he set, fitness became part of pro golf. I felt my good golf was good enough. But I know now that my good golf would have been better and I probably wold have won more. )Regrets?) Yeah, I do. I wish I had been fitter and stronger but that’s what it is. We all look at things at different stages in our careers and our lives and the bottom line is you have got to be happy. If you are happy, you have got to bear the consequences.