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Irish Open 2015: Conditions made course extremely difficult to play, insists Darren Clarke

By Peter Hutcheon

Darren Clarke reckoned several of the holes at Royal County Down were almost unplayable with the stiffest winds of the week on the last day of the Irish Open yesterday.

"It's a very tough golf course out there and it really showed it today," he said.

"I felt that a few of the holes were verging on unplayable, but that links golf and that's what it is.

"A lot of the guys will have been hoping for better conditions for the final day but it is what it is."

Winner Sodren Kjeldsen's winning two under total - he claimed the victory after a one-hole sudden death play-off - was the highest on the European Tour this season by a margin of four shots.

But Clarke actually managed his best score of the week yesterday - a level par 71 - although he started too far back to have any real impact on the outcome of the tournament. He finished on six over for the week.

"I wasted quite a few three-putts and my speed on the greens has been poor all week," he said.

"You just can't afford that in conditions like these. I am playing an awful lot of good golf and my ball-striking is as good as it has been in a while.

"I've a little work to do on my putting, so I'll be practicing that and hopefully find a bit of rhythm and get a better roll."

Winning an Irish Open is still on Clarke's radar but with the Seniors Tour beckoning in just a few years time an his Ryder Cup commitments starting to loom large, he knows that time is running out.

"It would be lovely to win one and it would obviously have been great for the thousands of fans who came here this week if one of us had been able to get into contention, but that's the way it goes sometimes," he said.

"It's been a great week and the crowds have been fantastic and they've stuck at it despite the cold and the rain.

"As long as the tournament keeps going in the right direction and I think with Rory's backing and Rory's foundation's backing it is getting the tournament back to where it should be.

"I'm happy to keep on playing the Irish Open wherever it is held, be it the K Club or Lough Erne in a couple of years time.

"Rory assembled a great field and long may it continue."

Danny Willett said that he thought he had given himself a chance of being in a play-off after he chipped in for eagle on the finishing hole to finish at level par.

"It wasn't a great tee-shot but I managed to get it up to the green with my second," he said.

"I really fancied it when I saw the ball up pin high and it's always nice when it goes in.

"You could tell that the scores were getting higher and the guys were coming back to us a little so it level par might have given me a chance."

There were no sour grapes from the men that Soren Kjeldsen beat in the play-off to win the title.

"He just made a very good birdie," said Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.

"I though I hit a really good three-iron and I don't know how it came up that short, like 15, 20 yards short of where I expected from that lie.

"It was just two bad chips that cost me at the end so I had to go into that extra hole.

"But all in all I am happy with the way that I played this week.

"I have to be proud and I am happy with second place and going into my favourite event in a couple of week I hope I can go one better."

England's Eddie Pepperell was extremely disappointed that the only bogey of his day came at that first extra hole.

"I played really well all day and I got to play with Lee Westwood this week and with Luke Donald today which was pretty good.

"It obviously wasn't Soren's best day today but you win tournaments over four days and I think he has proved that.

"There are only four or five people under par for the tournament and that shows just how difficult it has been."

His second place does qualify Pepperrell for the Open at St Andrews in July.

Belfast Telegraph

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