In one fell swoop, Darren Clarke ended a 13-month stretch without a victory on the PGA European Tour, vaulted from 18th to fourth on the Order of Merit and climbed to the top of the European Ryder Cup points standings.
Clarke’s victory came at the Smurfit European Open July 8, and it was his first triumph since the 2000 English Open.
Clarke resides in Northern Ireland and he received huge support from the K Club gallery. It was the second consecutive week the European Tour was in Ireland, and this time Clarke took advantage.
“The roars and the support I had followed on from last week (at the Murphy’s Irish Open at Fota Island),” Clarke said. “The only difference here was that I gave myself a better chance to win.”
Clarke shot a 6-under-par 66 Sunday to win by three strokes. He finished with a total of 15-under 273 to top Thomas Björn of Denmark, Ian Woosnam of Wales and Padraig Harrington of Ireland.
Björn climbed into contention by making eagle on the 16th and 18th holes in the final round. The pair of eagles helped Björn finish at 14 under par on the par 5s for the tournament. Before the tournament 14 under on the par 5s was the mark set to earn a bonus – a diamond necklace worth more than $100,000 – which Björn won.
There was a sign in the final round that perhaps this was Clarke’s day. He caught a break at the 447-yard sixth hole when his second shot hit a tree and bounced onto the green, landing 7 feet from the pin. He made the putt for his third consecutive birdie.
– From staff and wire reports