The Open: Darren Clarke coy on damage as Claret Jug is returned
DARREN Clarke admitted as the rain hammered down at Royal Lytham that his golf game was not the only thing in need of some repair – so was the Claret Jug.
“It’s not quite in as good a condition as I received it in,” said the 43-year-old defending champion after handing over the trophy to Royal and Ancient Club chief executive Peter Dawson at the start of what is threatening to be a soggy Open Championship week.
“It’s been here, there and everywhere, but Mr Dawson looked at it and said ‘Oh, we can fix that, we can fix this’.”
Evoking memories of the damage infamously inflicted on the Calcutta Cup during some high jinks after the Scotland v England international in 1988, the Northern Irishman – oldest winner of the title since Roberto de Vicenzo in 1967 – was at pains to add, however, that he was not responsible for any of the dents.
“I didn’t drop it. I shall say no more – it was nothing to do with me. But it’s not that bad. It’s fine. And I didn’t really want to give it back obviously.”
Right up to the minute of the handover Clarke, despite being known to like a drink or two, remained true to his word – unlike many of his predecessors nothing was poured into the trophy during the year of his reign. “Not at any stage did I put any fluid in it at all. Nothing. It just is too special a trophy. I have so much respect for the Open Championship. I thought about it a few times, but I couldn’t do it. I was tempted on the
Sunday evening and the Monday evening and
the Tuesday evening and
the Wednesday evening – and for about two weeks afterwards. But I just thought ‘No, I can’t do it’. I don’t need to have a jug to drink out of!”
Reminded that following his win in 2009 American Stewart Cink had poured barbecue sauce in, Clarke answered: “I think everybody that’s been fortunate to have their hands on the trophy have done different things with it. All I can really comment on is my point of view on it. I just decided that the trophy was too special for me to put anything into it.”
He did add, though, that it has been a different story with the replica he was given to keep.
Trophy returned then, but Clarke will have a daily reminder at Lytham of what he achieved last year in some of the worst weather to hit the Open of late.
“I’m in the champions’ area of the locker room, which is very nice,” said the Dungannon golfer, adding that he unexpectedly enjoyed a similar privilege at last year’s event.
“I got my locker and I was beside Mr (Tom) Watson and a few of the other guys. I couldn’t quite figure out why and it was due to the late withdrawal of Greg Norman. Mr Dawson wondered who to put in there that won’t offend anybody, so they stuck me in. Having won it, I’ve earned my place in that part of the locker room this time!”
Having been one of the first players to test out the wet conditions and ferocious rough – Tiger Woods described it as “almost unplayable” in places – Clarke had his own warning for the rest of the field.
“It’s just absolutely brutal,” he said.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west