Major champion Darren Clarke is teeing up at the inaugural DUBAi Open with the intention of making a difference to the lives of women in the UAE. As usual, the Ulsterman will be wearing a breast cancer awareness logo on his collar in hope of raising more awareness amongst the women in the UAE where a large number of female deaths each year are caused by breast cancer. Having lost his wife, Heather, to the illness in 2006, Clarke is keen to play an awareness role while in Dubai for the final tournament of the 2014 Asian Tour season.
“Well, first and foremost, I’m here because of golf in DUBAi. They have been friends of mine for a long time and they kindly asked me to come along and play,” said Clarke.
“golf in DUBAi do such a wonderful job with all the tournaments they manage – the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the MENA Golf Tour and now the DUBAi Open. And there are different reasons as well; our foundation is actively involved in breast cancer awareness, as is golf in DUBAi, and I’m always trying to promote that.
“I understand that 28 per cent of female deaths in the UAE are due to breast cancer. That’s an amazing statistic but that could be reduced by 50 per cent by earlier detection. It’s something close to my heart for obvious reasons and it’s because of the efforts of the likes of golf in DUBAi do that make that difference. I’m here because I want to support them because they have supported me throughout my career.”
On the golf side, the 2011 Open Championship winner is eager to put on a strong showing at the immaculate Els Club Dubai against the stars from the Asian Tour despite a lack of success in recent times. The 46-year-old Ulsterman says he still has the desire to compete at the highest level, while also enjoying playing a mentor role to young golfers such as stablemate, Tommy Fleetwood of England.
“In terms of what I want to do, I want to play. I love the game and I hate the game. Of late, I’ve hated the game a bit more than I love the game but that’s the game of golf. That’s professional sport. It’s not always pitching up in beautiful venues such as here and going out and having a good time on the golf course. It’s our job and sometimes we love it and sometimes we don’t,” he said.
“You play well and it’s brilliant; if you struggle a little bit, it’s not so much fun but you have to keep battling on for the good times. That’s why I’m still doing it because I love the game and I always will.
“It’s great to have an opportunity where I can offer the likes of Tommy a bit of advice, only because I’ve been through it all, seen every coach in the world, even every mental coach, I think I’ve destroyed 90 per cent of them!
“I’ve seen everybody there is to see at this stage of my career, and it’s nice to give back, especially somebody of Tommy’s talent coming through who is, as I say, going to be a superstar, so to be able to help him is great. So if he listens, he’ll be fine!” laughed Clarke.
Tipped as a potential European captain for the next Ryder Cup in the United States, Clarke said that getting the nod for the job would be another highlight in a career, which has yielded more than 20 international victories.
“If you’re asked, it’s a huge honour. If I were lucky enough to be asked, then that would be great. But in the meantime, I’m just going to keep on playing and see what happens. As I’ve said all along, I’d love to do it but it’s not something you ask.”