Clarke’s groin injury leaves him struggling

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Darren Clarke was still being troubled by a groin injury on the eve of the Masters.

“Sore,” was how the Open champion described himself after an early nine holes of practice yesterday, and it led to him joining Luke Donald in deciding not to play the par-three competition.

“I don’t think another nine holes is going to do it any good,” Clarke said.

The 43-year-old first struggled with the problem as he missed the halfway cut at the Houston Open last Friday.

The undulating Augusta National is no easy walk, but at least the Northern Irishman avoided the main heat of the day again.

His first practice session did not begin until nearly 5pm on Tuesday and he completed the back nine before 10am yesterday.

Donald was the winner of the par-three competition title last year, but wanted to keep his focus on the tournament proper this time.

No par-three champion has gone on to win the Masters four days later.

Trees were brought down and bunkers washed out during a overnight thunderstorm at Augusta National, but the final day of practice for the Masters was still able to go ahead.

“We lost several trees around the golf course, none of which were significant in the context that they will impact the competition,” said club chairman Billy Payne.

“Debris was all around and the clean-up remains ongoing.

“We had some overrun on Rae’s Creek. Thankfully it was below Hogan’s Bridge [which takes players to the 12th green] and not noticeable and not impacting competition.

“We had 1.4 inches of rain on the course, we had our restroom at No 16 tee struck by a falling tree. [There was] significant damage, but we hope to have it rebuilt and up and running by the end of the day.”

More storms are forecast for the opening two days of the event.