By John Manley
Darren Clarke’s downhill slide continues on like the snowball that accumulates snow and grows larger the farther it rolls. Clarke, who has had zero impact on any tournament he has played in this year, hoped to right himself at the Masters in Augusta, Ga,. last week, but it didn’t happen. He finished tied for eighth in this event last year, so one couldn’t say the course didn’t suit him.
Clarke bogeyed his first hole on Thursday, but got the stroke back quickly with a birdie on number two. That was the last time he would be even. He proceeded to bogey three of the next four holes. He birdied the eighth, stayed even over the next six holes, then bogeyed the par-5 15th. Clarke finished three over for the round at 75, which wasn’t far out of touch of at least making the cut.
In Friday’s second round, Clarke once again bogeyed three and four, putting him at five over. Needing a heroic finish in order to continue play over the weekend, he instead double bogeyed the 10th and 13th holes, which effectively finished him. He scored 78 for the round and 153 (9 over par)for 36 holes, which was five strokes above the cut line.
Clarke now has to regroup as the European Tour picks up steam. If he is to be a factor in the next major, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in June, Clarke will have to find some answers that have not yet been forthcoming in 1999.