Clarke's first PGA signing

Europe's Paul Lawrie and Darren Clarke look over the 10th hole during a practice round at the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill.
Europe's Paul Lawrie and Darren Clarke look over the 10th hole during a practice round at the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. Chris Carlson

WHEN sanguine Ulsterman Darren Clarke arrived at Coolum last year to contest his first Australian PGA Championship, he clutched the famed Claret Jug and was still glowing from his British Open win.

Clarke won his sole major four months earlier, but still appeared drunk on the success and at times played accordingly, finishing in 54th place at two under.

He will get a chance to improve on that performance after organisers yesterday announced he would be returning to the Coast in December for the Palmer Coolum Resort event.

The burly throwback - the vice-captain of Europe victorious Ryder Cup team over the US on the weekend - is the tournament's first international confirmation.

This year's event will not boast the cavalcade of stars who attended last year's tournament, which benefited greatly from being staged immediately after the Presidents Cup in Melbourne.

Clarke (pictured) will be joined at Coolum by four-time Australian PGA champion Robert Allenby, fellow Australian and PGA Tour members John Senden, Greg Chalmers - the reigning Australian PGA champion - and past winner Geoff Ogilvy.

Two-time major winner Greg Norman also will play again this year.

The Shark may be in the twilight of his career but at last year's tournament he remained a crowd magnet.

Clarke - who has a yen for social media - was full of praise for last year's event, telling his mass of Twitter followers this: "Different professional golf tours around the world cud learn from the Aus PGA ... they know how to run tournaments! #thankyou".

The PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn was equally effusive when describing Clarke.

"Darren was the ultimate professional, and really embraced all that the Australian PGA Championship has to offer," he said.

"He was a hit with the fans and sponsors alike, and I'm sure he will again be overwhelmed by the support he receives whilst in Australia."

Allenby finished last year's championship in a tie for second following Chalmers' playoff win over Marcus Fraser.

"It hasn't been my best year on (the) course, so to finish the season somewhere where I've had a lot of success will be good," Allenby said.

Topics:  darren clarke, golf, sports, sunshine coast



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