LONDON – Reigning British Open champion Darren Clarke has pulled out of next month's U.S. Open.
The 43-year-old from Northern Ireland, yet to make a halfway cut this year, has been advised to rest a groin problem that first bothered him the week before last month's Masters and then resurfaced at last week's BMW PGA Championship.
Clarke has also withdrawn from next week's Nordea Masters in Sweden, so his next appearance is now expected to be the Irish Open at Royal Portrush starting on June 28.
"I am extremely disappointed as Open champion that I will not be able to play the U.S. Open," said the Northern Irishman, who earned a five-year exemption with his victory at Sandwich. "But I have to make sure I am 100 percent ready for Royal Lytham (his Open defense is on July 19-22) and I have been advised not to play for a month.
"I've not been able to get through the ball properly and I don't want to take any chances."
Clarke, who has played only two U.S. Opens since 2004, has not had a single top-10 finish since his triumph last summer, when he finally achieved his dream of a major title 20 years after he made his debut. He leapt from 11th in the world to 30th with that, but is already back down to 73rd.
The only tournaments in which he has played all four rounds this season have been those with no halfway cuts -- the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa and the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami. He also suffered a big first round defeat to Nick Watney in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and lost both his group games at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain two weeks ago.
He is not the only European star who won’t be at the U.S. Open. Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, who tied for second at the BMW PGA Championship, never entered the event because he wants to stay in Europe to further his Ryder Cup ambitions. In addition, current Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal and former Captain Colin Montgmerie failed to make it through a qualifier on Monday.