Bill Elliott discusses Darren Clarke's third-round 67 in the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club

By Bill Elliott

Suddenly, out of nowhere once more, Darren Clarke lifted himself on to an Open leaderboard for the first time since he won this glittering title three years ago.

Now roughly half a ton lighter after a diet and exercise combo that has meant a fortune spent on new clothes after taking nine inches off his waistline, it has taken the Irishman some months to adjust to his new look.

“I’m not as fat as I was and so it’s taken time to adjust my timing. If you’ve got 50 or 60 pounds sitting in front of your gut then you’ve going to swing a lot slower through the ball and I kept leaving the club behind me. This week I’ve got it back in front and it all feels so much better, “ he said.

His five under par in this rejigged third round took him within at least sighting distance of the leaders and offered momentum to the once big man as he contemplated another move forward.

He says that this Hoylake course has not yet had the serious wind it deserves – and that he relishes – and that if something worthwhile does blow in off the Dee Estuary this afternoon then anything is possible as this 143rd Championship slides to a close.

Whatever, Clarke will be sipping a couple of glasses of wine this evening after a short burst of activity in the gym. “Yeah, I’ll lift some weight and have a drink or two tonight. I’m not a teetotal angel, far from it, “ he grinned.

So for the new, slimline Clarke this Open Championship is proving to be a serious tonic. If you get my drift here.