There was one more significant change in the Midlands – Clarke had a new caddie. On the bag was the veteran and former right-hand man to Langer, Pete Coleman, replacing Clarke’s old friend PJ Fitzgerald.
The bond between caddie and player is a complex one but Clarke reckoned it was time to get a new partner-in-crime of which there have been more than a few.
He says, “JP and I were becoming a bit stale and we weren’t performing. It was time, at JP’s suggestion, to make a change and fortunately Pete was available.
“I look for somebody to put the club in my hand, tell me how far it is and what I should be doing.
“I’ll be going with Pete’s experience a lot of the time. My course management has never been one of my strongest points. Now and again I am going to take a shot on that I feel I can, but most of the time I hope I will listen to his advice.
“I can be very demanding. I haven’t threatened to hit them (the caddies) with clubs or anything but in the past I’ve been too demanding and I’ve had to apologise numerous times. But nobody can get it right all the time, caddies or myself.”
Clarke and Coleman eventually tied for fifth in the tournament with the Irishman carding a final-round 65 to move significantly up the leaderboard. Nice try, but no cigar. However, in the old days Clarke would have had a large Havana lit whatever the situation. But those days are gone and the new slimline Clarke should be able to last all four rounds in contention at the big tournaments rather than chucking in a second-round 79 as he did at Augusta.
Then there is the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills in September where Clarke will have the weight of European expectations on his shoulders. At least he won’t be carrying it around his waist this time.