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Clarke turns focus back to golf


Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke

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.