Darren Clarke brings out the Claret Jug for yesterday’s press conference at Coolum.
Darren Clarke brings out the Claret Jug for yesterday’s press conference at Coolum. Nicola Brander

Clarke happy to share jug

NORTHERN Irishman Darren Clarke was lured to the Sunshine Coast to spark interest, but it was the piece of silverware he brought with him that set most tongues wagging.

When he walked into Hyatt Regency Coolum yesterday, he plonked the Claret Jug - the spoils of his British Open win - on the table as if he was putting down a pint of Guinness.

For the larrikin 43-year-old, the Cup represents 21 years of toil and the fulfilment of a lifelong dream - not that you would realise that by the way he was wielding it around the room.

He travelled to the Sunshine Coast with golf's oldest trophy in his overhead luggage compartment and revealed it had recently undergone minor cosmetic repairs after it was dropped by previous holders.

"I don't take it everywhere - I only take it to special places," he said. "They (PGA Championship organisers) asked if I'd bring it down with me this week and I said certainly. It's always nice to travel with.

"People never really get a chance to see it. They see it on TV, they see it in pictures and stuff, but they never really get a chance to see it.

"I'm very happy to take it out and let people have a look and see all the names on it.

"It was bent but it's straightened out a bit now, so it's not too bad."

Clarke will line up at the PGA Championship tomorrow seeking to regain his British Open-winning form of July.

Since then he has had just one top-30 finish, when he came fourth at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf last month.

"It (my life) hasn't really changed," Clarke said. "Obviously, I'm a bit busier now. I'm a bit more in demand than I was before, but it's all been good.

"It's been frustrating that I haven't played as well since. I've been trying way too hard. If any-thing it's spurred me on to work harder than I have done before.

"I worked pretty hard, believe it or not, before that anyway.

"The weather's been poor, but when it's been good I've been out working as hard as I can, putting in as many hours as I can.

"But I've got a full-week trip coming up now, so it'd be nice to play well first-up here."

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