Don’t look now, but Darren Clarke is making his way back to the PGA Tour for the first time in seven years. The 2011 British Open champion will take advantage of the five year exemption he was awarded thanks to that victory. Clarke has failed to record a win since his triumph at that Open Championship. He could return as soon as the McGladrey Championship at the beginning of November, should he fail to qualify for the European Tour’s Finals.
“I’ve decided I will be taking up my U.S. tour card next season but that does not mean abandoning Europe,” the 45-year-old Northern Irishman said. He gave up his PGA Tour card in 2006 after his first wife, Heather, lost her battle with cancer that year. At that time, Clarke made a commitment to focus on the European Tour in order to remain closer to his two children.
If Clarke does manage to qualify for the playoffs on the European Tour, it is unclear when he plans to make his way back to competition on the PGA Tour. Based on his statement, we should expect to see more of him in the United States this year, although the number of events he will play is still unknown. It will be worth watching to see how he handles the change. It seems as if he is still committed to the European Tour and I wouldn’t expect him take on too many events in his first year back, however. His personality will certainly be an interesting addition to the PGA Tour.