Darren Clarke can’t wait to tee it up alongside the rejuvenated Tiger Woods at the WGC Bridgestone Invitation in Akron on Thursday.

Current British Open champion Clarke and Woods, the most successful golfer of the current generation, have been drawn together for the first day of the $8.5million event on the Firestone course in Ohio.

Clarke has brought the Claret Jug with him to act as an inspiration ahead of his match-up with Woods, back in action after three months out with a knee injury.

“It’s a good pairing. Any time you get to play alongside Tiger is always good,” said Clarke as he awaits his first tournament in America in almost a year.

“Tiger and I have had a few battles on the course. It’s nice to see him back playing again.

“He and I have a special relationship and we get on well together. I’m sure there will be a lot of people out watching us.”

Former World Number One Woods is also looking forward to renewing his friendship and his rivalry with Clarke.

“It was great to see Darren play well. He’s gone through a lot in his life. To win an Open Championship, the one he covets the most, that’s special to him, and the way he did it was very impressive,” said Woods.

Woods hasn’t played competitive golf since he limped out of the Players Championship in March and now has a new caddy on the bag after sacking long term partner Steve Williams.

“I’m ready to go,” declared Woods. “Doctors gave me the clearance to go, so here I am. I started back practicing a couple of weeks ago.

“I still haven’t been in a competitive environment yet, so that’s a totally different atmosphere. But the shots felt crisp, very clean. I was very pleased.”

Darren Clarke