Clarke (67) finally adjusting to slimmed-down body


HOYLAKE, England – Many will attribute Darren Clarke’s solid play this week to his return to the Open Championship, the event that is most important to the Northern Irishman, but in truth it has more to do with his suddenly svelte frame.

The 2011 Open champion underwent a major transformation during the offseason, shedding some 50 pounds. It was a change that took longer to adjust to than he would have thought.

“I hoped it was the problem,” said Clarke, who had missed five cuts on the PGA Tour before advancing to the weekend at Hoylake. “I kept leaving the club behind me.”

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Clarke said his club head and ball speed increased as a result of the lost weight and he had to transition to stiffer shafts in his irons to accommodate the change.

On Saturday at Royal Liverpool, however, he didn’t have any problems, making four consecutive birdies at the turn (he started on the 10th tee) and carding a round-of-the-day 67 to move to 5 under par.

“I’m not as fat as I was and it just took some time to match everything up,” Clarke said.