sport

Clarke pulls out of US Open

Open champion Darren Clarke has pulled out of next month's US Open in San Francisco to rest a groin problem.

The 43-year-old, yet to make a halfway cut this year, has been advised to rest the groin that first bothered him the week before last month's Masters and then resurfaced at last week's BMW PGA Championship.

Clarke has also withdrawn from next week's Nordea Masters in Sweden, so his next appearance is now expected to be the Irish Open at Royal Portrush starting on June 28.

"I am extremely disappointed as Open champion that I will not be able to play the US Open," said the Northern Irishman, who earned a five-year exemption with his victory at Sandwich.

"But I have to make sure I am 100 per cent ready for Royal Lytham (his Open defence is on July 19-22) and I have been advised not to play for a month.

"I've not been able to get through the ball properly and I don't want to take any chances."

Clarke, who has played only two US Opens since 2004, has not had a single top-10 finish since his triumph last summer, when he finally achieved his dream of a major title 20 years after he made his debut.

He leapt from 11th in the world to 30th with that, but is already back down to 73rd.

The only tournaments in which he has played all four rounds this season have been those with no halfway cuts - the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa and the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami.

He also suffered a big first round defeat to Nick Watney in the WGC-Accenture Match Play and lost both his group games at the Volvo World Match Play in Spain two weeks ago.

Clarke was on course to survive the cut at Wentworth last week until he came home in a six-over-par 43 for a second-round 77 that put him out by three shots.

He is not the only European star who will not be at the US Open.

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie, joint runner-up behind Luke Donald at Wentworth, never entered the event because he wants to stay in Europe to further his Ryder Cup ambitions.