Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Golf

Masters perfect for Tiger: Clarke

By Peter Hutcheon

Darren Clarke is backing old pal Tiger Woods to give a great account of himself when he makes his comeback at next month’s Masters in Augusta.

“Tiger doesn’t make many wrong decisions when it comes to his golf,” he said.

“So I’m sure he’s doing what he thinks is best and Augusta will be fine.

“I think it’s a great venue for him to come back and play at because the course is so good and he likes it so much there, I think it’ll be great.”

Clarke is in Morocco for the Trophee Hassan II which starts today as the European Tour resumes after a two-week break. Fellow Ulstermen Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin are also in the field.

The Dungannon man was amongst the Tour pros lining up to shake Jack Nicklaus’ hand as the Golden Bear turned up for a visit to the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course in Rabat.

And Nicklaus, whose record of 18 Majors is Woods’ driving force in the game, says he doubted whether the world number one could possibly be at his best after such a long lay-off.

Seve went to that Masters not having played very much golf,” Nicklaus explained. “I remember he and I were playing a practice round and he said to me 'I'm not as sharp as I should be'.

“As soon as he said it, I knew when Seve came down the stretch on Sunday, he wasn't going to be as tough as he'd usually be. When he hit his ball into the water at 15 in the final round, it was the type of swing you'd expect from somebody who wasn't sharp.

“And being sharp is being tournament tested on a recent basis,” Nicklaus added. “That'd be the only negativity for Tiger at Augusta -- he'd not be tournament tested, though as a golfer and having practiced all the shots, he will be fine. So it's going to be very interesting.”

Nicklaus said the decision to play the Masters shows Woods is as determined as ever to surpass his 18 Majors — and the appalling train of events which turned

Tiger's private life into a three-ringed circus.

“I look at Tiger as a golfer and his personal life is none of my business,” Nicklaus insisted. “I look at him as a terrific player and a phenomenal athlete. His focus is as a golfer and I doubt if his goals have changed.

“Coming back for the Masters makes that quite obvious to me. He still wants to win more Majors than I did and that's fine,” he added. “It's not a cinch but he can do it.”

Nicklaus has confirmed he will be an honorary starter at Augusta this year alongside Arnold Palmer.

Clarke won’t be playing the Masters but says he will be glued to his television at home.

“I for one, like everybody else, will be watching a lot of it to see how he plays.,” he said.

“But I’m sure he will be right there in the mix.”

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph