Clarke in Texas as Calcavecchia makes 1000th tour start

Ronan MacNamara
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Darren Clarke (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Darren Clarke is in PGA Tour Champions action as the senior circuit returns to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex for the first time since 1996 for the inaugural ClubCorp Classic.

The tournament will be played at the newly renovated Las Colinas Country Club in Texas and Clarke is the sole Irish representative.

Clarke has endured a slow start to the season by his own lofty standards having quickly amassed three wins on the Champions Tour between November 2020 and September 2021.

The 53-year-old arrives off the back of an underwhelming T-42nd place finish at the Rapiscan Systems Classic. The 2011 Open Champion is yet to better his best finish of T-14th in the season opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship where Clarke was defending champion.

In the remaining three events the Portrush native has registered finishes of 58th, WD, 15th and will be looking to kickstart his season in Texas.

Clarke has struggled with some facets of his game thus far this season and ranks 10th in driving distance with a healthy dig of 289 yards off the tee. However he ranks 66th in driving accuracy, 46th in greens in regulation and 43rd in putting so he has a bit of work to do.

The course this week should lend itself to those who relish windy conditions. Surely the wind will blow as expected given the event is in Texas so these could be ideal conditions for Clarke to ignite his season.

Accuracy off the tee will be of paramount importance to navigate around the tree-lined fairways and with winds forecast to blow up to 30 mph players who are in control of their golf ball should find themselves at the top of the leaderboard.

There will be history made at Las Colinas too given it is an inaugural event but there will be another stat for the record books when 1989 Open champion Mark Calcavecchia tees it up for the 1000th time on any tour.

The American turned pro in 1981 before joining the PGA Tour in 1982 and he has gone on to win 13 times on the PGA Tour and will become just the 23rd player to make 1000 starts across the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions on Friday.

“It’s pretty cool. It shows my longevity and how I was able to keep my card for 25 straight years basically without ever losing it,” Calcavecchia told PGA Tour Champions.

“I had a good PGA TOUR career, which also enabled me to be on this Tour (PGA TOUR Champions) for as long as I want to play. That’s a big thing because there are a lot of good players in their early 50s that can’t get on this Tour because they didn’t have a great PGA TOUR career. Or you’ve got to finish in the top five at Q-School. That’s not too easy. This Tour was a hard Tour to get on. And it’s a hard Tour to stay on, especially if you didn’t have a stellar PGA TOUR career.”

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