When Darren Clarke made the announcement yesterday that he plans to play full-time next season on the PGA Tour, it wasn’t earth-shattering news that warranted much more than a few sentences in a small blurb of a paragraph on most sports media outlets.
“I will be taking up my US PGA Tour card next season but that does not mean I am abandoning Europe,” Clarke said. “I will be supporting my home Tour as usual. I still feel I can be competitive at the highest level.”
As many will recall, Clarke forfeited his US PGA Tour membership after his first wife (Heather) passed away from cancer back in 2006, feeling that he needed to return to Europe to be closer to his two sons. And as most all of us remember – five years later he had that truly magical week at Royal St. George’s in the 2011 Open Championship, winning the one tournament he’d always dreamed of and finally becoming a major champion.
Along with that accomplishment came a 5-year exemption to play on the US PGA Tour, which naturally Clarke has decided a few years later is a chip worth cashing in.
Whether or not he can be competitive at that “highest level” he spoke of, especially after what has been two very lethargic seasons since, is anyone’s best guess. There’s also the remote possibility that the 45-yr-old is looking to retool his game over the next few years to prepare for a second career on the US-based Champions Tour when he turns 50.
Whatever his reasoning is, I’m sure Darren Clarke isn’t abandoning his home tour in a literal sense, but I’d wager a guess that he’s looking forward to the change of scenery. Better crowds, better weather, better food, more perks and privileges each week that he tees it up, and obviously more money to be had…
Through all he’s been through and had to overcome in recent years, who could blame him?
We wish him well, one of the good guys in golf.