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Chubbys Corner: 10 April 2002
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I was already in debt long before reaching Georgia this week courtesy of a certain Mr. Godfrey Clarke, a seven-handicap head `greenkeeper from Northern Ireland and father to ISMs top-ranked golfer Darren.

It was Godfreys good fortune that the Masters of Augusta National allowed him to play a practice round with his son and never been

slow to engineer a bet, I decided to relieve him of $10.

Even though Godfrey is a pretty mean golfer in his own right and would have no shortage of helpers willing to give him assistance with line and club selection, I thought it was reasonably safe that he would not break 100 on his debut over the hallowed turf.


Darren Clarke
These Clarkes are nothing if not fighters and despite a scattering of bogeys on his card, Godfrey squeezed into the winners circle by the narrowest of margins at odds of 2-1 for every shot under 100, his 99 meant that he was $20 better off and I was looking for ways to win my money back.

Finding a winner for this years US Masters or any other for that matter is not going to be easy and it may still be difficult deep into the tournament. The extra yards they have added particularly on the first and last make an already brute of a course into a beast capable of biting into the strongest of resolves.

Darren Clarke
But if the aim was to Tiger-proof Augusta National, then I wonder if they have indeed gone some way towards making it more of an eve contest. I would have thought that the longer the course, the better the longer hitters chances become and few hit it further than Tiger.

Anyway, our stable is not without its big boomers and I am expecting a very sound showing from our four representatives with Lee Westwood , Paul McGinley and Michael Campbell all joining Darren at the first Major of the season.

Lee is still on the road to recovery, but last weekends showing in Atlanta was a significant step towards his rehabilitation. The greens at Sugarloaf were perfect preparation for those at Augusta and I would not be at all surprised to see him feature this week.

I am also sure that the more relaxed approach of Darren to his golf has come about through what he and wife Heather went through during the winter.

Heather had to have a growth removed and both were mightily relieved when the all-clear was given by the doctors. Now Darren appreciates everything a bit more and has an even greater desire to get everything he can out of his talent knowing that none of us know what is around the corner.

Another of our stable is making his debut at Augusta this week, but his role will be outside not inside the ropes. England cricket all-rounder Andrew Freddie Flintoff is with us supporting our players and will no doubt thoroughly enjoy a break from the rigours of the Test arena in the idyllic surroundings of Augusta.

Unfortunately, David Howell is also taking a break from playing, but not because he wants to. David went for a run the other day, tripped over a shoelace and broke his arm so he will be missing for a month and has had to pull out of the Britain and Ireland side for the Seve Ballesteros Trophy

next week in Ireland.

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