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Clarke turns focus back to golf

Newlywed Darren Clarke hopes he can stop his slide back down the world rankings at this week's Ballantine's Championship in South Korea.

The 43-year-old Ulsterman, who remarried in the Bahamas two weeks ago - six years after losing his first wife to cancer - rose from 111th in the world to 30th with his memorable victory at Sandwich last July. But the Open champion Clarke has not had a top-10 finish since and, after missing the cut at the Masters earlier this month, finds himself 69th.

Clarke said: "It's been good to have another little break again and obviously get married again. I feel very lucky, but it is back to work again now and try to get back into my golf again. I've had a couple of weeks on the beach. I practised a little bit when I was there, so I'll be a little bit rusty this week, but hopefully I'll get back into it."

Clarke is travelling with the Open claret jug and so has a constant reminder of the greatest day of his golfing life.

"It's certainly a privilege for me to bring it with me most places where I go," he added.

With Lee Westwood choosing not to defend the title he won by a shot from Miguel Angel Jimenez last May, the highest-ranked player in the field is world number 12 Adam Scott. The 31-year-old Australian came joint eighth at Augusta after a closing 66 which included a hole-in-one at the 16th.

"I thought my form going into the Masters was good, but it didn't quite happen the first three days and then I managed to put it all together on Sunday," he said.

"I was pleased with that finish because I probably would have been a little disappointed in my efforts and the work I had done if I did not finish so high up. That is why this week is so important - to keep my form going heading into the rest of the season. I've come over here to get myself in contention and see where my game is at."

Scott, a former winner of the Johnnie Walker Classic in Beijing and three Singapore Opens, added: "It's true that I've enjoyed playing in Asia over the years and I have had a certain amount of success, which is great."

England's Ian Poulter and Paul Casey are also in the field competing for a first prize of just under £300,000.

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