Sport Golf

Monday 20 November 2017

Clarke taking positives and playing 'lots of good golf'

Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke

William S Callahan

DARREN CLARKE and Padraig Harrington hardly applied a gloss finish to their efforts at the Valspar Championship but the Ulsterman still had a spring in his step as he left Tampa for Orlando and this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

"Looking back on my week, I played an awful lot of good golf," said Clarke (45) after a one-over 72 yesterday left him 58th at the Copperhead, one of the toughest tracks on the PGA Tour. "I just struggled to pick the right club in the wind this week.

"Six-over obviously isn't where I wanted to finish but I'm taking a lot of positives to Bay Hill. It's the best I've hit the ball in a long time, so I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and get myself back on the right track."

Harrington was two shots back in 65th after a final-round 74.

"It's nice to end any round with a birdie but I got punished again for too many bad shots," sighed the Dubliner, who celebrates St Patrick's Day by playing in a pre-tournament Pro-am at Bay Hill today.

He played the back nine on his own after Mark Calcavecchia (53) withdrew. "Mark was struggling with a stomach complaint for two days and didn't even want to shake hands on the first tee for fear of passing it on," said Harrington.


Aussie John Senden (42) turned 'snake charmer' to clinch his second win in the US and first in eight years by one stroke over Kevin Na.

Senden pitched in for an astonishing birdie three at 16, first hole in the infamous 'Snake Pit' finishing stretch, sank a monster putt for another birdie at 17 to ease to seven-under and made a gutsy par at 18 for the 70 which kept Na (72) at bay in an enthralling finish.

Scott Langley (24) finished third on five-under after a 70, while Luke Donald (70) shared fourth with 54-hole leader Robert Garrigus (75) and Will Mackenzie (69).

So complete was the domination of Alejandro Canizares over all four days of the Trophee Hassan II, the Spaniard took double-bogey six at 18 on Agadir's Palais Royal and still finished five clear. Canizares (31) had to wait eight years and 199 tournaments for his second Tour title (worth €250,000).

Michael Hoey tied 30th on four-under (€12,900) after his closing 70. Shane Lowry shot 73 and pocketed €4,612 in 56th on two-over. Two shots back, Damien McGrane banked €3,450 in 64th after his 73.

England's Charley Hull, 18 next Thursday, forced extra-time with a sensational 62, then pipped Gwladys Nocera of France with birdie two on the first tie-hole to clinch her maiden Ladies European Tour title in the Lalla Meryam Cup.

Carlow's Rebecca Codd tied 12th on six-under after a two-under 69 and earned her biggest cheque, €7,155, in four years. Royal Co Down amateur Olivia Mehaffey (16) completed her first Tour event in 47th on three-over after closing with impressive back-to-back 71s.

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