Clarke prepared for second swing at US Tour

Sea Island: Northern Irishman Darren Clarke, the 2011 British Open champion, starts his full-time return to the US PGA Tour for the first time since 2006 on Thursday at the $5.5 million McGladrey Classic.

"Never too old to start again," the 45-year-old said.

Clarke has not won since lifting the Claret Jug two years ago at Royal St. George`s but has played well in recent weeks, taking second at the Nanshan China Masters last month and sharing 12th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September.

"I just want to go out and enjoy myself," Clarke said. "I have traveled all over the world for a long time and I`ve had a great time doing it. It`s almost like starting over."

Clarke, whose world ranking has slid to 283, has a home in the Bahamas and another in Miami. However, he plans on keeping his European Tour membership as well.

But with eligibility earned from his British Open crown, he wants to play more often in America as well.

"I`ve almost had enough of the long hauls all over Asia and all that sort of stuff," Clarke said. "Not that it`s bad, but coming over here is certainly a lot easier for me from a scheduling point of view.

"Europe is my home turf, but it`s a great opportunity to come over here and play."

Juggling both tours will be difficult, Clarke said.

"It is something I will try to do. I will see how I get on with it," Clarke said. "But my first commitment is to the (US) PGA Tour and I have to get my tournaments in on the tour since I became a member again."

Clarke plans to play next week`s US PGA event in Mexico then enjoy the December break before playing his first 2014 event at Pebble Beach in January, following with a stop at Riviera in February ahead of the March series of tournaments in Florida.

"It`s good to have the opportunity to take it up again," Clarke said.

Clarke`s two US titles came at the 2003 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational and the 2000 WGC Match Play Championship. He had 14 top-10 finishes from 2003 to 2005 on the US tour.

Clarke made only 11 starts in 2006, in part because of the condition of his wife Heather, who died in August of that year of cancer.

Clarke will play alongside Americans Lucas Glover and Charles Howell for the first two rounds at Sea Island, where Davis Love is the tournament host. He will play alongside two other Americans who live at the resort, Harris English and Matt Kuchar.

Others in the field include 2011 US Open winner Webb Simpson, and US stars Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, David Toms and Justin Leonard.