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Darren Clarke's 64 fails to spark a big finish at Dubai Open

By Ian Casey

Darren Clarke was unable to capitalise upon his brilliant third round eight under par 64, his challenge at the inaugural Dubai Open eventually running out of steam, with India's Arjun Atwal taking the title.

Clarke could manage only a level par 72 yesterday, giving the Ulsterman a share of 15th place.

The Ulsterman was delighted with his 64 but disappointed he couldn't follow up with something similar yesterday in the $500,000 event.

"I shot two 64s (recently). I played in the Pro Am in Turkey two weeks ago, the Banco Classic, and it's a three-round tournament, and I shot two 64s down there on the first day and last day. So I'm playing okay," he said.

"I wanted to go out, play well and keep doing what I've been doing."

Atwal ended a frustrating four-year title drought by winning by one stroke after Korean teenager Wang Jeung-hun bogeyed the final hole.

Atwal, a former Asian Tour number one, trailed by one heading into the par five 18th hole at the magnificent Els Club Dubai but emerged victorious with a closing birdie while a nervous Wang posted a six following a wayward second shot which ended in a bush.

The 41-year-old, one of four overnight leaders at the final tournament of the 2014 Asian Tour season, ended a day of high drama by signing off with a six-under-par 66 and a winning total of 16-under-par while Wang carded for a 67. Scotsman Simon Yates took third place following a 68.

"This one feels really special," beamed Atwal, whose last victory came at the 2010 Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour.

"I think the last time I won on the Asian Tour was 2008 (Maybank Malaysian Open). I've gone through some really tough times the last few years with injuries and losing my card on the PGA Tour and all that stuff.

"I was at a point where I almost wanted to quit. Thanks to a few of my family and friends, I didn't, and here we are."

Atwal is hopful that winning the Dubai Open will prove a launching pad.

"It hasn't sunk in yet actually. Even when I made that putt on the last hole, it was just like, oh, man, just more relief than anything else that the day is over, because I was feeling it," he said.

"I was feeling a little bit my nerves and all that stuff but it was a gift today. I haven't won a tournament like this where someone has actually gifted it to me. I got lucky.

"On the back nine, I started with that par five where I laid up, and I think I made three birdies in a row and that's where I started to be myself, play my own game and let whatever happened, happened."

Atwal counts Tiger Woods among his close pals and admits he would love to see the 14-time Major winner get back to the top of a game currently dominated by Rory McIlroy.

Atwal said: "We've become really, really close. Him going through his stuff and me struggling (with injury) the last couple of years, we've been there for each other.

"There's very few friends in the world that will be there for you when you need them the most, and he's one of them. And I'm there for him, as well.

"So you know, going through this two years of struggle, he's always been nothing but positive.

"I've spent some time with him in Jupiter and all that stuff, and he's always guided me the right way of which way I should go with my game or how the health is feeling, how to go about rehabbing stuff and all that stuff.

"In fact he texted me 'shoot 68 and you should be good'."

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