Clarke hoping to cap great season

Darren Clarke will be gunning for his third title of the year when he tees off in the Thailand Golf Championship next week.

Open champion Darren Clarke will be gunning for his third title of the year when he tees off in the inaugural US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship next week.

After winning in Spain earlier in the year, the man from Northern Ireland went on to a dream victory in the British Open in July – his first ever major win.

Since then, however, Clarke has yet to record another top-10 finish, a stat he’ll be eager to turn around next week at the Asian Tour’s season finale at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand.

“I’d love to win a third. I’m trying to win again. If I can then it would be great. I’d like to get further up the world rankings as well,” said Clarke, currently ranked 43rd.

“It’s been a very good year so far – that goes without saying, I’ve won once and ended up winning the Open Championship.

“I want to keep on going, that’s what I want to try and do but it hasn’t been working out. I’ve just got to do what I’ve been doing before and hopefully it will give me more opportunities (to win).”

It won’t be Clarke’s first time playing at highly rated Amata Spring, and he still remembers the venue – and the island green on the 17th hole which requires players to take a boat ride after teeing off – fondly.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Asia. I’m very excited about going and I remember playing at Amata Spring a couple of years ago,” said the 43-year-old.

“I kept hitting into the water on the moveable green but the golf course was wonderful.”

Clarke will face no shortage of quality opposition next week. Aside from a number of Asian Tour stars he will also have to contend with the likes of US Open champion Rory McIlroy, World No 3 Lee Westwood, two-time European Tour winner Sergio Garcia and Masters champ Charl Schwartzel.

Asian notables include Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa, Order of Merit champion-in-waiting Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines and Lu Wei-chih of Chinese Taipei, a two-time winner this year already.

“The players (in Asia) are getting better and better. They travel more and play around the world. Anyone who travels around the world and play on different grasses and different cultures can only get better,” said Clarke.

The winner of the Thailand Golf Championship will also earn a spot in the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational 2012.