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Daily Snack Sport
Clarke ready for Ryder Cup
13/09/06
Darren Clarke plays his first round of competitive golf in almost eight weeks when he lines up in the Madrid Open on Thursday but believes he will be ready for the Ryder Cup.

Clarke, who has not played since July 21 and suffered the trauma of losing his wife to cancer last month, is warming up for next week's match between Europe and the United States by playing the Madrid Open.

"I'm not here to make up the numbers, that's for sure," Clarke told a press conference on Wednesday.

"I wanted to play some competitive golf before I played the Ryder Cup. I do feel strong enough.

"In fact I am stronger altogether. I've had to face up to a lot of tough things. I hope I've come through it a better person.

"My game is fine and I'll be ready for the Ryder Cup. Without a doubt it will be emotional but I will get myself through it. My team will help, but I will get myself through the week," he added.

Clarke's wife Heather died on August 13 and by taking so much time off to care for her, the 38-year-old Northern Irishman had no chance of qualifying automatically for the Ryder Cup.

However, Clarke told Europe's captain Ian Woosnam he would like to make himself available for the match three weeks' ago and was selected as a wildcard.

There has been the question of whether Clarke would be ready but he is certain he can repay the captain's faith.

"It was always in the back of my mind: whether to play or not to play and it was pretty obvious from an early stage that I was going to need a pick," Clarke said.

"I'd played quite well two or three times, so I felt I was in with a chance.

"I wasn't going to come to any rash decision. If I was not able to perform at my best I would be letting my team mates down. But I wouldn't have put myself forward if I wasn't able to."

As well as practising daily, in between taking care of his two sons, Clarke played with several of his team mates at the Ryder Cup course, the K Club, where he holds the course record 60 which is also a joint European Tour 18-hole record.

"The course was good, it was playing long and tough, so it will be a great test next week," he said.

The Ryder Cup is from Sept 22-24.

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Clarke ready for Ryder Cup
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