Darren Clarke (chest) WDs from Northern Trust Open

Darren Clarke withdrew from the Northern Trust Open with a muscle injury in his chest.

Darren Clarke withdrew from the Northern Trust Open with a muscle injury in his chest.

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Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

12:44:01 AM ET. 04/19/2014




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Darren Clarke was disappointed with his 7-over 78 in Thursday’s first round of the Northern Trust Open.

But he was more disappointed with the fact that he had to withdraw due to a continuing muscle issue in his chest.

“I was on the range in a Qatar there a couple weeks ago the day before the tournament and after the pro‑am practicing and started hitting it harder and harder and pulled my muscle up here in my chest,” Clarke said, pointing to his left par of his chest. “I thought it was okay, but it's still just niggling away.”

Playing in the U.S. as a fully exempt player thanks to his 2011 Open Championship win, Clarke, 45, had been very careful in picking and choosing his starts, playing in just 15 PGA Tour events – mostly majors – since his win at Royal St. George’s.

The Ulsterman decided this year, though, to play a full schedule in the U.S. His start at Riviera was his third on the PGA Tour this season, yet his first of the 2014 calendar year.

“It's only really with going after it full tilt with the driver,” Clarke said. “That's the bit that's sort of getting me, and you can't try to get around this golf course if you're not hitting your driver, and I was hitting everything right and stuff, just not getting through it.”

Losing 40 pounds since October on a diet that excluded sugar and carbohydrates, Clarke wonders if the weight loss has contributed to the injury.

“I was much better off as a fat so and so," Clarke said.

Clarke will return to Florida for a week of rest and plans on playing at the Honda Classic if his chest is ready.

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