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Clarke aiming for third straight English Open

Darren Clarke will be looking for his third straight English Open title, when he tees off at the Forest of Arden course today.

If he succeeds on the course where he won last year, the world number 10 would become only the fourth player to win the same event in three straight years.

"I am looking forward immensely to trying to join them," Clarke said on Thursday.

Clarke, whose first English Open victory was at Hanbury Manor in 1999, blamed poor chipping and putting for his showing last week but said he had struck the ball much better Tuesday and again Wednesday.

"Yesterday I hit the ball solid and made a few mistakes," he said. "Today I hit it even better and made no mistakes. Hopefully I can carry it on this week."

His main rivals should again be Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood, though Montgomerie withdrew from Wednesday's pro-am with back problems which he said would not stop him from playing on Thursday.

Lee Westwood, who deposed Montgomerie as European No. 1 last year, is doing a better job of rediscovering the form that dipped when he took several weeks off around the birth of his first son in April.

He was eighth last Sunday and declared himself delighted at the progress he was making since redesigning his swing.


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