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Clarke ready to risk Open defence for Irish appearance

ESPN staff
May 30, 2012 « Parker feared Euro 2012 KO | Chartbeat test »
Darren Clarke will miss the forthcoming US Open © Getty Images
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Reigning Open champion Darren Clarke is prepared to put the defence of his Claret Jug at risk to ensure he tees it up at next month's Irish Open.

Clarke is currently struggling with a groin strain, an injury that has forced him to pull out of both the US Open and the Scandinavian Masters in June.

The Irish Open kicks off at the end of that month but Clarke is determined to play in his home event - even if it makes him a doubt for the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, where he will be the defending champion.

The third major of the year gets underway on July 19.

"I've got to play [in Ireland] - even if I have to use a Zimmer frame," Clarke said. "I've still got four weeks so hopefully the groin will have cleared up by then anyway.

"I started feeling a bit of pain in Houston just before The Masters, so this injury doesn't excuse my poor play over the past nine months."

Clarke has admitted that the extra attention - and perks - that comes with being a major champion has adversely affected him in some respects over the last few months, and hopes a break might help him rediscover his best form.

"Since I won The Open at Royal St George's it has been an incredible experience off the course, getting married and being greeted everywhere as the Open champion," he added.

"My schedule has been crazy - crazy good - but my feet haven't touched the ground. It's been exactly the opposite on the course, where I've struggled just to make a cut.

"I can only put that down to me pushing too hard. Maybe taking a step back will help.

"I'm only able to swing at 60 per cent but I can putt and hit wedges so I'll keep ticking over while I'm 'resting'."

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