New fitness regime reaping rich reward for Darren Clarke

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke on the 10th tee
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke on the 10th tee

Former Open champion Darren Clarke’s new fitness regime meant he marked his best round of the week with a gym session and a couple of glasses of wine.

In the past the Northern Irishman would probably have washed down his 67 with plenty of Guinness, although not nearly as much as when he won the Claret Jug at Sandwich in 2011.

Instead the newly slimmed-down 45-year-old left Royal Liverpool and headed for the gym to reflect on his five-under total which, although being highly unlikely to allow him to win tomorrow, could propel him towards his highest major finish since his victory in 2011.

“It’s not quite Jane Fonda’s workout but I’ll probably go to the gym this afternoon and lift some weights for 20, 25 minutes,” he said.

“I’ll probably have a couple of glasses of wine but that’s about it – I’m not a teetotaller angel or anything, far from that.”

Clarke has spoken extensively about how his new regime has allowed him to be quicker through the ball.

“I hoped it was the problem. If you’ve got 50 pounds or 60 pounds sitting in front of your gut you’re going to swing a lot slower through the ball than what you would do otherwise,” he added.

“I kept leaving the club behind me but I’ve done a few things this week and the club’s got back in front of me again so it’s been better.

“The ball-striking has been pretty good. I just need to knock in a few putts and get some momentum going and It feels like I’ve started to do that.”

Compatriot Graeme McDowell, who shot 68 to also be five under, believes he is playing for a consolation prize tomorrow following the scores of Rory McIlroy.

“It has given me a shot at something tomorrow but I’m not expecting the lead to be coming back in my direction,” he added.

“A solid top-10 or top five all I can really hope for. Rory’s two 66s would have been tough to live with the first two days but there is no doubt I’m ruing that two-over par on Thursday in probably the easiest conditions this week.”