DARREN CLARKE SAYS he has been frustrated by poor form leading in to the defence of his British Open title at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The Irishman Clarke was a popular, if unexpected, winner of the famous Claret Jug last year, beating American pair Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson by three shots at Royal St George’s.
The 43-year-old has since struggled for consistency, with a finish of 20th at the Volvo Golf Champions in January, Clarke’s first appearance of 2012, still his best return in stroke play this year.
“I play golf to win tournaments and I’ve been nowhere near that standard for quite some time,” he said. ”I’ve got pretty annoyed and although I’m practicing and doing all the right things, it just hasn’t clicked so far.
“I’ve had a wonderful year off the golf course, but a very frustrating year on it,” he said.
Clarke was 71st at the European Tour’s Open de France last week, and placed 39th at the Irish Open a week earlier, a tournament held on his home course of Royal Portrush, County Antrim.
“I played really well in France last week and I was not too bad at the Irish Open,” he said. ”I just want to give myself a chance at Lytham and be competitive, and I feel no pressure as my name is on the Claret Jug and it will be there forever.
“I know what winning a major is like and I want more of it – that’s why I’m practicing, I’m craving more success. I wasn’t supposed to win it last year and it’s nice to go to Lytham where I’m not supposed to win it this year.”
The 2012 British Open begins at Royal Lytham and St Annes on England’s northwest coast next Thursday.