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Clarke returning to PGA Tour after seven-year absence

The Canadian Press

9/12/2013 6:10:04 PM

ZANDVOORT, Netherlands -- Darren Clarke confirmed he will return to the U.S. PGA Tour for the first time in seven years and since the death of his first wife.

Clarke is taking advantage of a five-year tour exemption he earned from winning the 2011 British Open.

If the 45-year-old Northern Irishman, who hasn't won since that Open, doesn't qualify for the European Tour's finals, he could restart on the U.S. tour at the McGladrey Championship in Georgia on Nov. 7.

"I've decided I will be taking up my U.S. tour card next season but that does not mean abandoning Europe," Clarke said in a statement from his management company ISM on Thursday.

Clarke forfeited his U.S. tour membership after the death of his first wife Heather from cancer in 2006, and concentrated on the European Tour to be closer to his two sons.

He has since remarried, and decided to take advantage of the remainder of his exemption.

Fellow major winner Padraig Harrington was among those delighted with Clarke's decision.

"It's good to see him taking this move as it's a good sign also where he's at," Harrington said at the KLM Open.