Tuesday 12 December 2017

Meltdown costs Clarke dear as Horsey captures title

William S Callahan

A Stunned Darren Clarke is picking up the pieces today after the Dungannon man’s dramatic fall down the field at the Hassan Trophy in Morocco over the weekend.

After two opening rounds of 69, Clarke was just one shot off the lead going into the weekend but he endured a horror round on Saturday – taking two triple-bogeys on his way to an 81.

There was no recovery from the former Ryder Cup star as he finished the tournament on sevenover in second-last position, 20 shots behind English winner David Horsey.

Peter Lawrie, leader after day one, and Michael Hoey were the leading Irishmen as they both walked away with cheques of €16,320 after finishing in a share of 19th position on five-under.

Damien McGrane finished joint 60th on two-over, with Paul McGinley a further shot behind. Horsey had to overcome Rhys Davies and Jaco Van Zyl in a threeman play-off to win the trophy in Agadir. The Englishman's second European Tour title came after a drama-packed final hole saw the trio go into a three-way play-off.

Defending champion Davies and Horsey, who had a hole in one at the second, exchanged blows all day. With one to play, Horsey was one ahead of Davies and two clear of South Africa's Van Zyl, but took five from the middle of the fairway and six in total.

Effort

His double bogey left Davies a fourfoot putt for the win, but the Welshman ran the effort two feet past the hole. That allowed Van Zyl into a play-off .

Horsey was relieved to have got his hands on the trophy: “I couldn't believe Rhys missed that putt to win. If we had been playing match play I would have given him that putt because he is one of the best putters in the world.

“I made hard work of that coming down the last,”

Meanwhile, Ireland finished fifth in the European Nations Cup at Sotogrande on Spain’s Costa Del Sol at the weekend.

With three of the four cards counting on each of the days, the Irish ended the 72-hole contest with an aggregate of 870, 18 strokes behind England, who won for the third consecutive year.

Ballymena teenager Dermot McElroy, the hugely talented Irish Boys international, failed in his bid to take the individual honours as he slipped in his final round. McElroy ended with a lacklustre 76 following his two 69s and 71. He was wayward from the tee and his short game was not as sharp as earlier in the week. Nevertheless he finished on 285 and in a tie for third place, four strokes behind France’s Julien Brun and one adrift of Austria Lukas Nemecz.

Banbridge’s Rory Leonard left his best until last, returning a final round 67 for a 304 aggregate, the same as Irish champion Alan Dunbar, while Paul Cutler of Portstewart ended on 295.

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