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Darren Clarke laps up Jose Olazabal tips

It's all about 'give and take' on Tour. In recent days, for example, Darren Clarke has received a valuable putting tip from incoming Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal which the Ulsterman believes could help put him back in the winner's circle.

Yesterday on the range at the Royal GC of Bahrain, he was overhead delivering a brilliant curve ball to outgoing European skipper Colin Montgomerie.

“What's that over there, Clarke said to Monty, gesturing to a JCB. “That's a mechanical digger with a front loader,” the Scotsman reputedly replied. “So it'll be ready to go into action next Monday,” Clarke retorted, implying to course-designer Montgomerie that his creation might be dug-up after this week's inaugural Volvo Golf Champions.

As one might expect, Monty has been given a right, royal ribbing from European Tour colleagues this week. Yet, joking apart, the greens have more humps than a camel ranch and will stretch the patience of many of his fellow professionals.

“It's clearly going to get a bit of stick from the players,” Paul Casey confessed. “From tee to green it's a pretty decent layout and I like it. It's almost as if the plans came in for the green and they got crumpled — significantly,” he added.

Clarke missed the cut in Abu Dhabi but was in optimistic mood after yesterday's Pro-Am.

"I had two hours of Jose Maria on Saturday afternoon on the putting green in Abu Dhabi," he said. "It was very good. I'd worked a bit with (putting guru) Philip Kenyon and he was reiterating what Philip had said."

Ireland is also represented by Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane and Michael Hoey in an event which, in 2012, will bring this season's winners and players with 10-plus victories on the European Tour back to Bahrain to tee-off next year's Race to Dubai.

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