Clarke: “I take my job very seriously”

Darren Clarke insists that his indifferent form since winning the Open is because he’s been too eager for more success.

Darren Clarke insists that his indifferent form since winning the Open is because he is too eager for more success – not because he has lost his drive or focus.

Clarke’s dream victory at Royal St George’s earlier in the year fulfilled a life-long ambition for the Northern Irishman, but since then his form has taken a serious dip.

Some believe it is because he has been celebrating too much off the course and now feels as if his job is done, but the Ulsterman insists it’s because he has in fact been trying too hard to repeat his Open win.

“The process of resetting my goals is ongoing,” Clarke told the Daily Telegraph. “Since I won at Royal St George’s I have struggled because I have wanted success too much. I have chased it, rather than relaxed. I will continue to spend eight or nine hours at Portrush, hitting balls on my own or with a friend.

“I know how fickle this game can be. There might be a caricature of me as a man who enjoys the good times, but that is not the case permanently. I am not in the bar every day. I take my job very seriously.

“I seem to have struggled with my disappointments since the Open. I think, ‘Why can’t I do it again?’ I am even more obsessed. I have never accepted mediocrity in my career. When I play poorly, it really gets me down. And yet when I play well, I merely expect it. Because I practise, I feel that is what I should do. At the same time, playing poorly is what drives me to keep working hard, maybe too hard.”

Clarke will defend his Open title at Royal Lytham next year and isn’t planning on just making up the numbers.

“If I am to win another major, I would have to accept that the Open remains my best chance,” he added.

“I am 43, so my last serious chance of winning it again will come in the next year or so. That is why I will be doing everything in my power to prepare properly for Royal Lytham next year. Quite simply, I want to continue playing successful professional golf.”