Darren Clarke claims he is working "harder than ever" ahead of the Open Championship at Muirfield, which starts on Thursday.

The 2011 champion has had a torrid time since his victory at Sandwich two years ago, as he has failed to make the cut in four of the seven majors he has played in since, and hasn't made the top 50 in any of them.

But the Northern Irishman is often at his best when unfenced, as he hadn't made the top 10 at any major for 10 years before he won the Claret Jug, and he is drawing on his experience of being a champion to guide him this year.

He said to the Daily Star: “My name’s on the trophy. No one can take that away from me.

“I’ve been overly frustrated. Since The Open I’ve absolutely tried my butt off and gotten the least out of it than I ever have.

“It hasn’t been a case of expectations going through the roof. I’ve just worked harder and harder than ever.

The 44-year-old won't be ranked among the favourites this year, and his ranking of 340th in the world is a reflection of that, but Clarke will not be found guilty of lacking effort at this year's Championship.

“I just can’t leave it alone," he said. I should ease back on the practice, but I’ve been practicing too hard. That’s what’s wrong with me. Then I get out playing and I’m trying so hard I get in my own way.”


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