By John Manley
When you begin the final round of a golf tournament six strokes behind the leader, with several names between you and the top, two things must happen. First, you have to play nearly flawless golf. Second, everyone else must come back to you. For Darren Clarke, this turn of events conspired to enable him to repeat as English Open champion in Coventry, England on Sunday.
Clarke was on fire from the outset, collecting five birdies from the first seven holes. That run put him into contention, then another birdie binge beginning on 13 and continuing through the 16th hole, shot him to the top.
Clarke finished at 13-under-par 275 (70-72-68-65), one stroke ahead of Mark James and Michael Campbell, who had led from the beginning with a 63. While Clarke was helping himself to his final round 65, Campbell and stalwarts such as Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood were coming in with 72s. They had all begun the day ahead of Clarke.
Next on Clarke’s agenda is the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Calif., which begins on Thursday, June 15.
Gary Murphy had another solid week. He tied for 32nd place at 287 (73-73-71-70). The remainder of the Irish contingent was unable to clear the cut line, which was set at 146. They included Des Smyth, 149 (78-71), Eamonn Darcy, 149 (76-73), and Philip Walton, 150 (78-72).
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P.J. Cowan had a useful outing in the Steamtown Classic at Glenmaura National Golf Club in Moosic, Pa. The St. John’s grad tied for 46th place with a 72-hole score of 290 (69-74-72-75). John Kernohan came back from Asia to miss the cut by one shot. He needed 144, but posted 145 (73-72). Jeff Hart was the medalist, shooting 275.
Another week without a paycheck for Keith Nolan. It’s not as if the Wicklow man is a world away from teeing it up on the weekend. He missed the cut for the Kemper Insurance Open at TPC at Avenel in Potomac, Md. by just a stroke.
His 144 (73-71) didn’t cut it. Metropolitan New York area fans can follow Nolan this week in the Buick Classic at the Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y.
Women’s Euro Tour
Aideen Rogers tied for 40th place in the Chrysler Open at Halmstad, Sweden. She signed to a score of 298 (77-75-77-69). Carin Koch had the winning number of 277.
Euro Challenge Tour
David Higgins worked out a 28th place tie in the Danish Open at the Odense Eventyr Golf Klub in Denmark. His 291 (73-70-76-72) left him 13 strokes behind Fredrik Henge, the low man at 278. Peter Lawrie’s 151 (77-74) was well off the cut line at 146.
Euro Seniors Tour
David Higgins’s father, Liam, was one of two Irishmen to tie for 10th place in the Microlease Jersey Seniors Open at La Moya Golf Club in England. He and Eddie Polland both finished two over par at 218, 11 shots behind Neil Coles, who became the oldest winner of an event on this circuit, at 65 years and 10 months. Higgins recorded rounds of 75, 69 and 74, while Polland was in with 71, 71 and 76.
A shot behind them was Denis O’Sullivan at 219 (73-73-73), which placed him in 16th place with eight others. Joe McDermott shared 26th position with his 221 (72-73-76). Paul Leonard and David Jones were among a foursome in 36th place with scores of 223. Leonard had rounds of 77, 69 and 77, while Jones shot 73, 73 and 77. Gordon Parkhill tied for 44th place at 225 (75-73-77).
Missing the cut at 150 or better were Raymond Kane, 151 (78-73), Michael Murphy, 152 (77-75), and Kenny Stevenson, 153 (79-74).