• The Open

Clarke ready for Tiger fight

ESPN staff
July 15, 2012
Darren Clarke and Tiger Woods have been friends since the 1996 Open © Getty Images

Darren Clarke is desperately hoping to renew rivalries with good friend Tiger Woods at The Open next week.

Clarke, who has not enjoyed victory since his emotional Open win at Royal St George's last year, expects to receive some friendly abuse from the 14-time major champion, but is delighted to see the former world No. 1 returning to form.

"Tiger sent me a text last year telling me to finish it off," Clarke said in the Sun. "And if he gets himself into contention this time I'll do the same for him - even if I'm up there, too. I'd love to be playing with Tiger next Sunday.

"I've been in touch with him recently. He's playing very well again which is great. The game needs him to play well again. No doubt he'll have something to say about my weight - but that's fine as long as I play some decent golf."

Defending champion Clarke returns to Royal Lytham, where he first struck up a friendship with Woods after being paired with the then amateur at the 1996 Open.

"I hit a couple of good drives but he just ripped it 70 yards past me," Clarke recalled. "I thought f*** what's going on here? He was awesome. "He was a skinny, 20-year-old amateur who was pretty new to links golf. But he shot a brilliant 66 in the second round and ended up winning the Silver Medal as low amateur. We seemed to hit it off and we've got on great from that day forward."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.