Clarke reflects ahead of Augusta return

Published Friday, 23 March 2012
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Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke has been reflecting on his last Masters outing and admitted he just "wasn't really there", as he prepares to return to Augusta - this time as Open champion.

Clarke reflects ahead of Augusta return
Darren Clarke is Augusta-bound again. (© Pacemaker)

Back in 2007, Clarke was facing his first major since the loss of his wife Heather just eight months earlier.

"I was just going through the motions at that stage," the popular golfer told Press Association Sport.

"I just wasn't at the races. Golf was not meaningless to me, but it just wasn't high on my priorities. My mind wasn't there."

And unfortunately for the Co Tyrone man, it showed in his performances on the course and two days later - after an opening round of 83 and despite a 12-shot improvement the following day - he was packing up to go home.

"I didn't think I wouldn't be back. It was more just that the golf course was not the place for me," Clarke said.

The now 43-year-old didn't make his Augusta debut until he was almost 30, but he ended up joint eighth after having made the cut with only a stroke to spare.

His best start on the course came in 2003, when he held a three-shot lead - only to fall away badly.

With plenty of lessons learned along the way, Clarke can look forward to another return.

"The thrill of going back is not quite the same as going there for the first time, because I know where all the potential disasters are now - but of course it'll be wonderful to experience it again," he said.

"My life has completely changed again in golfing terms because of last year and I am very, very grateful for that."

© UTV News
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