Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke insists he will shed no tears at the end of what could be his final appearance in the Masters this week.
While emotions are sure to be high as former champion Tom Watson calls time on his playing career at Augusta National, Clarke is more phlegmatic about the prospect for himself.
“I’m not going to lie, there won’t be any tears shed when I walk up the 18th fairway on Friday or Sunday,” Clarke said. “I don’t dislike the course, but the margins of error are very fine here and I haven’t coped well with that fact. Too often I got my ambitions and my capabilities mixed up.
“Maybe that’s the best way to describe my Masters experience.”
Clarke’s five-year exemption for winning the Open in 2011 runs out this week and he is honest enough to know that his current form does not suggest he will be likely to qualify again soon. The 47-year-old has not recorded a single top-10 on the European Tour since lifting the Claret Jug.
“I like the way you said, ‘This is the last year of your Masters exemption’ rather than, ‘This is the last year you’re going to be here,’ “ Clarke laughed when asked about his status by Golf Digest.
“But that’s okay. I know my form over the last couple of years hasn’t been nearly good enough. Which is partly why I’m not feeling particularly emotional about this maybe being my last time at Augusta National. It is a special place to be. But if this is it for me, then so be it.”
Clarke has been understandably distracted by his role as Ryder Cup captain ahead of this year’s contest at Hazeltine, but has recorded just one top-10 finish in 13 appearances in the Masters, claiming a share of eighth on his debut in 1998.
“While the course appeals to the creative side of my golfing nature, my awareness of where not to go has held me back,” he added. “I’ve never been able to just go out there and have a right go, all of which is not like me.
“But playing smart has never been one of my strong points, either. And when you start going for flags you shouldn’t go for, it can be a problem.”