DUBAI, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Darren Clarke is really looking forward to competing in the British Open and U.S. PGA Championship this year because both venues have a special place in his heart.
The Northern Irishman, the favourite to be appointed captain of Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup team, told Reuters in an interview that he always enjoys playing at St Andrews and at Whistling Straits.
“I led in the first round of the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits so I’ve got fond memories of that effort,” said Clarke after missing the halfway cut at the Dubai Desert Classic.
”A St Andrews Open is always special as the Home of Golf and this year will be my fifth British Open there so that is something I look forward to very much.
“I also haven’t missed a cut at St Andrews and remember playing really well finishing seventh behind Tiger Woods in 2000.”
The U.S. PGA in Wisconsin will be held in August and the British Open takes place in Scotland in July.
Clarke is without a victory since the 2011 British Open and is in the fourth season of a five-year exemption for all four major championships that he earned through his win at Royal St George‘s.
“What can I say about Augusta National that hasn’t been said before,” said the world number 431 of the U.S. Masters that will be staged in April.
”The only major venue that’s new, and it will be the same for the majority of those competing at the U.S. Open in June, is Chalmers Bay.
“Having won the Open in 2011 it again means my season will be scheduled around the majors,” added Clarke who has not had a top-10 finish on the European Tour since lifting the prized Claret Jug four years ago.
Next up for the 46-year-old will be a trip to South Africa’s Sunshine Tour for next month’s Dimension Data pro-am at Fancourt where eldest son Tyrone, 16, will be his amateur partner.
Clarke will then remain in South Africa for the Joburg Open, a co-sanctioned event with the European Tour. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)