Clarke: 'My attitude is good and it's shown in how I'm hitting the ball'

If Darren Clarke is to fail for a 20th time at the Open Championship he is going to go down smiling. That was the promise of the third-round leader last night as he prepared for what he called "an opportunity".

Two things have impressed most about the 42-year-old this week. Clarke's ball-striking and his attitude. While the former has never been questioned the latter most definitely has been. But after his 69 which gave him a one-stroke advantage Clarke revealed that it was a tip way back from 1997which has inspired him in Kent.

"Ken Brown [the former Ryder Cup player] said to me before my debut in the Ryder Cup at Valderrama, 'Don't let your golf game determine your attitude, let your attitude determine your game'," said Clarke. "My attitude has been very good all week and it's shown in the way I'm hitting the ball."

Clarke also credited mind coach Dr Bob Rotella with helping him maintain his patience. "I couldn't have hit the ball any better from tee to green, but on the green it was not the same, to say the least. But overall I hit a lot of good putts that didn't go in," he said. "I haven't been always able to stay patient when that's been the case but after spending time with Dr Bob I have been able to get into that mindframe here."

So Clarke is on the cusp of the major his talent always merited. He has been written off on many occasions and despite his victory this year in Majorca he was ignored by many for the Open, including the bookies who priced him at 200-1. Clarke maintained that he always believed. "Did I ever doubt I would get myself back in this position? No," said Clarke. "Did I know it was going to happen? No. Did I hope it was going to happen? Yes. But I never once thought it couldn't."

Northern Ireland has always kept faith in him, despite the rise of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Clarke, who was bombarded with McIlroy questions, refused to admit that he had been inspired by McIlroy's eight-shot win at Congressional three weeks ago. "He's half my age, it's a different era, I was delighted for him but I can't say it inspired me," said Clarke. "I'm very excited about the position I'm in. The Open is the biggest and best tournament in the world. I've failed 19 times to try to lift a Claret Jug and tomorrow I have an opportunity. But there's a long way to go."

Clarke's nearest challenger plays in the final grouping for the third time in the last six majors. Dustin Johnson shot an 82 when leading the 2010 US Open and then missed a play-off when penalised on the last hole of the 2010 USPGA. Will those experiences work against the American?

"No, I think the more and more you can put yourself in a situation, the more comfortable you get," said Johnson, whose 68 was the joint-best score of the day. "I'm going to be pretty comfortable out there tomorrow because I know what to expect."

Both Clarke and Johnson admitted they had been fortunate with the weather, as the rain stopped and the wind dropped an hour into their rounds. Stewart Cink, the 2009 Open champion, was one of the morning starters and said: "I've only ever seen one tougher day than this and that was the Saturday of Muirfield in 2002. It is almost indescribable how hard it was to play golf out there."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable