European Tour chiefs visit Royal Portrush

PRESS EYE-BELFAST-NORTHERN IRELAND'Conferement of the Freedom of the Borough by Dungannon and South Tyrone Council today.Darren Clarke received the freedom of his home town Dungannon during a special ceremony held in recognition of his achievements in world golf.'Pic : BrianThompson/Presseye.com

PRESS EYE-BELFAST-NORTHERN IRELAND'Conferement of the Freedom of the Borough by Dungannon and South Tyrone Council today.Darren Clarke received the freedom of his home town Dungannon during a special ceremony held in recognition of his achievements in world golf.'Pic : BrianThompson/Presseye.com

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DARREN Clarke was at Royal Portrush last Wednesday (15 Feb) to give pointers to European Tour officials on this year’s Irish Open venue.

European Tour official Miguel Vidaor, who will be the Irish Open’s tournament director, praised Clarke for “giving us some of his valuable time” at the world-famous Dunluce course at Portrush.

“Darren knows the course better than anybody and we really appreciate his input,” said Vidaor.

“This is one of the best golf courses in the world. It’s an amazing bit of land.”

Clarke told the European Tour official that the “course doesn’t need that much tweaking”.

“It just will need thick rough in certain areas where the guys will take things on,” added Clarke, who described Vidaor as “one of our best tournament directors”.

“If the guys get it right, great, but if they get in wrong they are going to struggle to find the green from those sorts of places.”

It has been a busy time for The Open champion. He is hoping a new fitness regime, which has led to him losing a stone and a half since Christmas, can help kick-start a return to form. I’ve been doing everything right and I’ve been in the gym working hard,” said the reigning Open Champion, 43.

“I’m not eating all the rubbish I was or partaking in alcoholic beverages.”

Clarke’s 2012 changes have included a new caddie, Ian Woosnam’s former bagman Phil ‘Wobbly’ Morbey. He takes over from John Mulrooney, who carried the Dungannon man’s bag at Sandwich when he won the Open last July.