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Clarke sheds 40-plus pounds, contends in S. Africa

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Darren Clarke has always had a love-hate relationship with his waistline.

When he’s playing well, it’s because he’s heavy and happy.

When he’s not playing well, it’s because he’s too heavy and lethargic.

Well, the 45-year-old has slimmed down again, this time shedding 40-plus pounds in a last-ditch effort to regain the form that saw him win the 2011 Open Championship. His waistline has shrunk six inches and he’s dropped several shirt sizes, all the way down to a medium.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that Clarke has also magically reappeared on a leaderboard. He shot 69 Thursday at the European Tour's Volvo Golf Champions and is T-3, just two shots off the lead. Keep in mind he has just a pair of top-10s in the past two years.

The impetus for this most recent transformation was the Dunhill Links in October, when Clarke faded from contention (and eventually finished T-12) because of fatigue. 

“I took a look at myself in October and thought I was getting too fat so it was time to do something about it,” he said, via the Irish Independent.

How did he shed the pounds? “There’s no cardio,” said Clarke, who trains with a Dublin-based instructor via Facetime. “It’s all weights, and I’m in and out of the gym in 30 minutes, that’s it.”

Sounds easy enough, but this is also the man who once said in 2011: “(Manager) Chubby (Chandler) has always said that I play better fat. I’ve obviously been adhering to that theory.” 

Indeed, the Clarke Diet is not for everyone.