Clarke out of Classic after accident

Darren Clarke appears to be jinxed when it comes to four wheels after a mystery ‘traffic accident’ forced him to withdraw from this week’s Dubai Desert Classic.

The 2001 British Open champion was originally entered for the final event of the European Tour’s desert swing but his name was notably absent from the entry list over the weekend.

A query to his management company, ISM, brought a guarded response with a spokesman reporting: “Darren was involved in a minor traffic accident last week and is suffering from a bit of stiffness. That’s all we know.”

The Tyrone man (44), has a colourful history when it comes to cars, motorbikes and even golf buggies. At the 2008 Australian Open at Royal Sydney he was lucky to limp away with nothing more than a bruised leg when he went head first into a bunker in a runaway golf cart. He was being driven off the course with Australia’s Robert Allenby after torrential rain stopped play but the driver sent to retrieve the players from the furthest point on the course failed to notice the yawning bunker in the middle of the sixth fairway.

While Clarke wasn’t at the wheel that time, his love of speed cost him in May 2007. The Ryder Cup star suffered severe bruising when he flipped his 250cc off-road buggy in a field at his Surrey home.

A few years earlier, Clarke took delivery of a high-speed trike for Christmas and immediately crashed it into the wall of his garage.

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