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Clarke unhappy with IMG over Matchplay

Darren Clarke is furious that IMG, the organizers of the Cisco World Match Play Championship, have left him out of this year’s event and underlines his anger by pointing out that at 22 his world ranking is higher than at least four of the players invited.

They are American Fred Funk (32), Canadian Mike Weir (34), and Englishmen Justin Rose (40) and Nick Faldo (60).

Clarke, one of Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes at the Belfry last month, told the Daily Express, "I am angry. I love matchplay. I have beaten Tiger Woods in this format.

"And several of those who will be playing are ranked lower than I am. Surely that gives my case more merit."

Clarke believes he is being left out this a highly lucrative invitation event – it offers its first-round losers a pay packet of £50,000 and the winner a fat purse of £250,000 - because he is represented by IMG rivals IMS.

"They should call it this the IMG Championship," he insisted. "It's not worthy of being called a world championship.

"The field doesn't contain a single American of note. It should be called the IMG Invitational."

Clarke says he intends taking up the matter with the European Tour, who have endorsed the tournament.

"It's definitely something I'll be seeing them about. There should be a criteria for qualifying through the world rankings or various Orders of Merit.

"How can you call it a world championship? It's pathetic of IMG. I'm not happy, but it's them through and through," were his final words in his verbal lashing of the sports management giant.

Mark McCormack, who set up IMG and is still the firms chief executive, backed the decision to leave out Clarke.

"Darren is a fine player”, he said, “and yes, he played here last year, but there are plenty of top players who have not been invited.

"We have five of the top eight in the world in the 12-man field," he added.

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