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Darren Clarke withdraws from Irish PGA

Darren Clarke, who has pulled out of this week's Irish PGA championship at Westport due to a knee injury, will be back in action at next month's Benson and Hedges International Open, his manager has said.

The Northern Ireland professional has experienced knee problems since the Masters earlier this month and has been advised by his physiotherapist to rest for the next two weeks.

'Darren has had to pull out of the Irish PGA but he will definitely be back at the Benson and Hedges,' Clarke's manager Andrew Chandler told Reuters on Wednesday.

The European Tour's Benson and Hedges International Open takes place at The Belfry in England from May 9-12.

'It's precautionary. Basically what's happened is that he had a twinge in his knee while he was at Augusta and it has since been revealed as an inflammation of the ligament,' said Chandler.

'It was heavy going for him at the Masters [on hilly terrain in wet conditions] and then he played 36 holes a day at Druids Glen last week [during the Seve Trophy team competition].'

The 33-year-old Clarke, who tied for 20th at Augusta after scores of 70-74-73-72, wore a knee brace for his five matches at last week's Seve Trophy at Druids Glen in Ireland.

He helped Britain and Ireland on their way to victory over Continental Europe by beating Denmark's Thomas Bjorn 4 and 3 in the last-day singles but his physiotherapist has since said he probably should not have played in the competition at all.

'The physio said, if he wasn't careful, he could affect the rest of his season,' said Chandler.

'The physio also said he probably shouldn't have played at Druids Glen but [Britain and Ireland captain Colin] Monty [Montgomerie] wanted him to play.

'He [Clarke] never seems to get injured. I think he's been injured just once in 11 years when he tweaked his back at the Masters. I can't ever remember him complaining about anything.'

Chandler added that if this week's event was not being held in Ireland, then Dungannon-born Clarke would have withdrawn on Monday.

'Normally something like this takes two weeks to clear up,' he said. 'Darren had next week off anyway but, because this week was in Ireland, he was really keen to play.

'We've left it as late as we can to make a final decision.'

Clarke, the world number 13, is the second big name player to withdraw from the Irish PGA championship this week.

Dublin professional Padraig Harrington, last year's European number two, pulled out on Tuesday due to a foot injury.


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