Clarke set for PGA Championship

BRITISH Open Champion Darren Clarke is heading to Australia after committing to play the PGA Championship at the Hyatt Regency Coolum from November 24-27.

Clarke's career high win at The Open stamped his dominance as one of the world's best links players - shooting an impressive 5-under-par in extremely difficult conditions at Royal St George.

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The Northern Irishman's inclusion in the PGA Championship field builds on an already strong line-up, with Jason Day, Greg Norman and American Bubba Watson already confirmed for the event.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said having The Open champion tee-off at the Hyatt Regency course was a definite boost for golf in Queensland.

"This is shaping up to be the most impressive line-up of talent we've seen for the tournament," Ms Bligh said.

"To have a champion like Darren Clarke - in addition to recent confirmation of Greg Norman, Jason Day and Bubba Watson - really is a coup for Queensland.

"The PGA is a marquee event on Queensland's dynamic and growing events calendar. And this will be a chance for local fans to get a first-hand look at the best golfing talent in the world as well as attract visitors and deliver a shot in the arm for the local tourism industry."

A newcomer to the PGA Championship, Clarke said he was looking forward to testing his game on the picturesque but tricky Coolum course.

"I have heard great things about Queensland and the course at Coolum so I am looking forward to playing golf in more warm conditions than I am used to and also testing my game on a different style course to that of a links," he said.

Despite dominating world golf recently, an Irishman has never won the PGA Championship.

But with Clarke bringing his major-winning form to the Sunshine Coast, the Joe Kirkwood Cup could head to the Emerald Isle for the first time.

"Irish golfers are enjoying lots of success of late and hopefully I can continue this trend, my game is in great shape and I look forward to capping off a great year in Australia," Clarke said.

"Knowing that I could be the first Irishman to win the Australian PGA will be in the back of my mind when I come to play and I hope that I have plenty of fellow Irishman there to cheer me on."

PGA Australia CEO Brian Thorburn said he was looking forward to welcoming Clarke and what is shaping up to be the best-ever year in PGA Tour of Australasia history.

"With stellar fields for the Australian Open and PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola, the world's best here for The Presidents Cup and the PGA of Australia celebrating its Centenary in 2011 it's a huge year for golf and I am very pleased that Darren Clarke is able to come and experience Australian golf at it's finest.

"I am even more pleased for Queensland and Australian golf fans who will be able to see The Open Champion play in their own backyard, I am sure this is something that will excite them all."