Competitive juices still flow for slim golden oldie Clarke

Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:00pm EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - Darren Clarke may be unrecognizable from the figure that won the 2011 British Open but one thing will never change for the Northern Irishman - the competitive juices always flow for him at golf's oldest major.

The 45-year-old has endured a miserable season, missing a combined 10 cuts on the European and U.S. PGA tours, and is still waiting for his first top-20 finish of the year.

Clarke, however, always loves to check his game on the testing seaside layouts of the Open and he again rose to the challenge on Saturday with a sparkling six-birdie, one bogey 67 catapulting him through the field.

"This is the biggest and best tournament in the world," he told reporters after ending the third round with a five-under tally of 211.

"I enjoy playing links golf and the Open championship is one I always look forward to playing from the start of the year."

Clarke decided to dive head first into a new fitness regime in the close season and, although his form does not seem to have benefited, his body has.

"I'm not as fat as I was," he said. "If you've got 50 or 60 pounds sitting in front of your gut you're going to swing a lot slower through the ball than what you would do otherwise and I kept leaving the club behind me.

"I've done a few things this week. The club's got back in front of me again so it's been better.   Continued...

Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland laughs on the 14th green during a practice round ahead of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, northern England July 16, 2014.   REUTERS/Toby Melville