Injury 'just a tweak', says cautious Clarke

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The Independent Online

If there was one word Darren Clarke wanted emphasised, underlined, capped up, the works, it was "precaution". But then it is the week before the Ryder Cup so he knew what to expect after withdrawing from the pro-am on the eve of the Linde German Masters.

If there was one word Darren Clarke wanted emphasised, underlined, capped up, the works, it was "precaution". But then it is the week before the Ryder Cup so he knew what to expect after withdrawing from the pro-am on the eve of the Linde German Masters.

Instead, Clarke was quietly practising his chipping, the bandage on his right wrist the cause of a potential scary story. "It's nothing much," he said. "Just a tweak.

"I felt a little tweak when I caught one a little heavy on the range. I went to the physios, who had a look at it and strapped it up purely as a precaution. For those reasons I pulled out of the pro-am.

"I have had stuff like this before. It's OK when I hit short pitch shots but it is on the longer shots that I feel it a little bit so I didn't want to play the pro-am and make it worse. But I'll be fine for the tournament."

Clarke will tee-off this morning alongside seven of his Ryder Cup team-mates. Luke Donald, after his victory last week in Switzerland, and Sergio Garcia were never going to play at Gut Larchenhof but there were two late withdrawals.

Neither, however, should worry the captain, Bernhard Langer. Lee Westwood has remained at home after his wife, Laurae, gave birth to their second child, Poppy Grace, on Sunday. David Howell is resting after going down with a heavy cold.

Langer is a busy man this week, for as well as playing he is the promoter of the event. But one subject dominates his thoughts and the team, plus Langer and his three assistants, Anders Forsbrand, Joakim Haeggman and Thomas Bjorn will meet for dinner this evening.

Langer was naturally delighted that the three team members at Crans, Donald, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Garcia finished one, two and three. Whether he has manipulated the draw here is doubtful but for those who cannot stop themselves reading between the lines, Clarke is playing with Paul Casey and Paul McGinley is alongside Colin Montgomerie.

As for next week, Monty says he will be happy to play with "anyone who wants to put his name down next to mine". The Scot is just back from a weekend at EuroDisney with his three children. "Four kids together, but we survived," he said. "I did well, I thought, to bring back the same number of kids as I left with, very encouraging."

Asked if a Ryder Cup still excited him, he said: "Oh God yes. I can't speak for the rookies, but I've had 14 bloody years of this and there's still excitement and anticipation. When you put your team uniform on and go to the airport you feel very honoured indeed. That should and never will change."

¿ The European Tour's Heritage tournament due to take place in two weeks has been switched from the Marquess course at Woburn to the adjoining Dukes course. The Marquess has suffered an attack of anthracnose disease over the last two weeks, which has led to a loss of grass on the greens.

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