Golf: Painful memories for Clark

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YESTERDAY was an unhappy anniversary for Howard Clark as he prepared to make his comeback on the PGA European Tour, in the Turespana Balearic Open in Majorca, which begins today.

It was a year ago that Clark, lining up a four-foot putt in the Open Catalonia in Girona, suddenly experienced excruciating pain in his right elbow, which turned out to be a repetitive strain injury.

'That moment was the beginning of the most frustrating year of my life,' Clark said. He played in pain for eight months, undergoing surgery in November.

Clark still relies on anti-inflammatory tablets to keep the pain in check and he explained: 'The surgeon lifted the muscle and stretched it. I still have post-operative pain but it is closer to the forearm rather than the elbow now and is more bearable.'

Injuries were a recurring theme yesterday as the principal protagonists arrived at the Santa Ponsa course, which has the longest hole on the Tour, the 645-yard 10th.

Gordon Brand Jnr and David Feherty, joint runners-up in last week's Mediterranean Open, were both suffering, Brand with a pulled back muscle and Feherty with a heavy cold.

The defending champion, Seve Ballesteros, also has back trouble. The long-standing problem resurfaced in Morocco recently, causing him to miss the cut in Cadiz. 'The back is my main concern right now,' he said. 'I rested last week at home and although I can play, it is not good.'

Among the favourites to win are Jose-Maria Olazabal, slowly finding form again after his winter sabbatical, and the Ryder Cup players, Feherty, Brand Jnr and Colin Montgomerie.


Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par

1st 476 4 10th 645 5

2nd 569 5 11th 394 4

3rd 175 3 12th 240 3

4th 459 4 13th 503 5

5th 339 4 14th 416 4

6th 492 5 15th 186 3

7th 186 3 16th 437 4

8th 394 4 17th 350 4

9th 437 4 18th 459 4

Out: 3,527 36 In: 3,630 36

Total: 7,157 72