Date: December 08, 2008

Clarke ready for Open challenge

Irishman Darren Clarke has declared his intention to fight back into the world top 50 and is targeting a big performance at this week&aposs Australian Open as a great place to start. Clarke, speaking on Monday after playing a few holes of the Royal Sydney course, is keen to perform well in what will be a whirlwind trip down under. “I&aposm excited to back down here again, some of the best courses in the world are down here so it&aposs great to come back,” he said. “It&aposs a long way to come for one week, two or three week trips are not to bad but one week is pretty tough. But for me I&aposm chasing world ranking points I want to get back into that top 50 again, and that&aposs the main reason why I&aposm here.” Clarke is also wary of a quality field that includes plenty of local contenders including Adam Scott who is recovering from an injured knee. “It&aposs a really good field Geoff (Ogilvy) won last week and Rod Pampling has been in good form, Adam&aposs (Scott) here as well and he&aposs one of the best players in the world so with them, amongst others, it&aposs a really strong field.” The lead up to this year&aposs event has focussed a lot on the prospect of Tiger Woods playing in 2009 and Clarke indicated he was by all means supportive of the plan. “It (the press coverage on Tiger) doesn&apost bother me at all. The more he plays around the world the better it is for everybody, we all have a chance then to beat him.”