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Irish Open: Darren Clarke squeezes in after swinging between two extremes

By Peter Hutcheon

It was a day of extremes for Darren Clarke - but at least he will be around for the weekend after just about making the cut at the Irish Open.

The Dungannon man said that he had hit the ball as well as he ever had in his round of 72 yesterday - but that he'd never putted worse.

"I had both extremes going on," he said. "My ball-striking was right up there with one of the best rounds that I have ever played, but my putting was probably the worst I've ever known.

"I kept giving myself chances and chances and hardly missed a green. Obviously, it was nicer to have a better score than yesterday but with the way that I hit it, it should have been a lot better."

Clarke made the cut right on the mark at plus five, which leaves him eight shots off the pace going into the weekend.

And that might not be an insurmountable deficit with weather conditions set to remain similar to the first two days and there were still a few rounds of 67 managed yesterday.

A double-bogey six at the eighth looked to have wrecked Clarke's chances, but he played some very committed golf on the back nine.

He picked up birdies at the 12th and 15th holes and he covered the back nine in two under.

"Anything can happen on this golf course," he said.

"As you can see, a really good score around here is two under or three under.

"I'm probably too far back but I'll go out and play as well as I possibly can."

His playing partner Luke Donald is right in the mix at two under after a second successive one-under round of 70. Yesterday saw him record five birdies and four bogeys.

"With the changeable weather we had and the showers that kept coming through, it made it tough," Donald said.

"I made a couple of bogeys early on in the round but I steadied the ship around the turn and I had a good little run which was the key to my round.

"I felt pretty much in control and its nice to see some putts going in and I'm happy with where I am right now."

It could be an important week for the former world number one, who has slipped well outside the top 50. The quality of the field at Royal County Down means that more world ranking points than usual are on offer.

"I'm really aware of where I am in the rankings - although I try not to think about it," he said. "For me, the goal is to be ready tomorrow when I have to tee it up and not get too far ahead.

"I have to concentrate on staying in the present and I think that's what is going to help me."

At level par, Rickie Fowler is also in good shape heading into the final two days.

"I felt that I left a few out there and it would have been nice to finish a bit better," he said.

"There are a lot of times when you are defensive and trying to keep the ball in front of you and keep it out of trouble.

"I ended up in a bit of trouble at 18 when I really shouldn't have. You've always got to have your guard up and there are very few times where you get to be aggressive and try to attack the hole."

Belfast Telegraph

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