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Darren Clarke was inspired by Padraig Harrington's performance at Royal Birkdale. (Shamus/Getty Images)

Clarke and Mediate have Ryder Cup on their minds

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Darren Clarke got off to a great start in his quest to show that he belongs on the European Ryder Cup team. Rocco Mediate also started solidly as he tries to sew up a spot on the U.S. squad.

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (PA) - Darren Clarke is relishing the chance to make the most of a rare major appearance in the PGA Championship. The Ulsterman's fall down the world rankings means that his visit to Detroit, at the invitation of the PGA of America, constitutes his first major of the season.

Motivated by watching Padraig Harrington's victory in the British Open last month, Clarke also has the chance to convince Europe's Ryder Cup Captain Nick Faldo of his worth as a wild-card selection for the side.

And, if Clarke's sixth-place finish in last weekend's World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational is anything to go by, he might not simply be making up the numbers.

"I really enjoyed last week at the Bridgestone," said Clarke, currently ranked 87th in the world. "I've missed the big tournaments, it's where I want to play and I want to do the same thing again this week.

"I watch all of them, they're the biggest events in the world," he added. "Part of watching it has been tough but it's been egging me on to work it out.

"I'm trying to get there, I'm working away to do that but I watched Padraig win and the golf he played on that back nine that Sunday was sensational, it was incredible to watch," he said. "After the struggle that he'd gone through, to be as mentally strong as he was, was fantastic to see and thoroughly deserved."

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Clarke knows he has his work cut out if he is to sway Faldo, but claims both his performance and frame of mind in Akron last week auger well.

"I have to play really well and if I don't play really well in the next few weeks there's no way I would merit a pick," he continued. "At the end of the day I've got to try and play as well as I can this week and we shall see what happens.

"Last week I was very calm and relaxed and I wandered around the golf course. Invariably that's when I play as well as I can, when I just hit it and find it and hit it again.

"That's not always, I don't always get into that way of doing things but that's when I play my best. I did it last week and I'm going to try and do it this week as well and see how it ends up."

Clarke will not be the only player with an eye on the Ryder Cup this weekend, with U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate on the cusp of being an automatic selection for the United States.

The 45-year-old currently lies 12th on the U.S. points list and at 45 years of age is in contention for a rookie appearance at Valhalla next month. He opened with a 3-over 73.

Mediate got a confidence boost from U.S. Captain Paul Azinger on Wednesday when he was mentioned as a possible captain's pick if he did not make the team, but the golfer insists he still has plenty to prove.

"It would be great," Mediate said. "I still have a lot of stuff to do. One more good shot here to get in the top eight is what we are all looking to do, actually, and then there's a couple more events after to see what he (Azinger) thinks, which is a great way to do it.

"I think he made a good move in changing the way, instead of having all the picks Monday morning, he'll watch a few weeks and see who is really playing better.

"It's something I want to do, of course. I mean, I have another shot," he explained. "So I told him a year and a half ago that I want to be on that team, and it wasn't looking good until a month and a half ago, so I've got a shot.

"That's all you can really ask for. It would be a lot of fun, though, I can tell you that."

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