Misfiring Clarke blows chance of elusive win
Darren Clarke had his best finish since his 2011 victory at the British Open but his tie for second place behind Charl Schwartzel at the Nanshan China Masters provided further frustration for the Northern Irishman.
In a familiar refrain, Clarke bemoaned his failure to tuck away the putts during a final-round 72 on Nanshan's Montgomerie Course as 2011 Masters champion Schwartzel edged one stroke ahead of him with a 68.
"I'm obviously disappointed with the day. It was another one of those days on the greens where I couldn't buy a putt from anywhere," said Clarke, who shared second with defending champion Liang Wenchong after both took the lead into the final day.
Clarke was still in hot pursuit of his first win since Sandwich until an untidy bogey at the penultimate hole knocked him off the top of the leaderboard.
The 45-year-old appeared to be cruising until he missed a three-footer for par at 13. Though a birdie at 15 saw him rejoin the lead, Clarke dropped the all-important shot out of a "horrible" lie in thick fringe rough after missing the green at 17.
Clarke's next two outings will be in the US next month.
Meanwhile, England's David Lynn surged through the field to claim his second European Tour title and climb back into the world's top 50 in the Portugal Masters.
Lynn, whose only previous win in almost 400 events came in the KLM Open in 2004, carded a superb closing 63 to finish 18 under par at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura.
The 39-year-old started the day six shots off the lead but charged into contention with five birdies in a front nine of 30 and, after a bogey at the 10th, picked up further shots at the 11th, 14th, 15th and 17th to set a clubhouse target that was never matched.
An emotional Justin Walters holed a 40ft par putt on the 18th to claim outright second on 17 under and secure his card for next season, the South African breaking down in tears after the death of his mother two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Michael McGeady got the better of Damian Mooney and Cian McNamara to claim the Cassidy Golf Irish PGA Championship at sunny Roganstown.
McGeady posted a final round of 67 to finish on a nine-under-par winning total of 275 – one stroke ahead of Mooney and McNamara.
Mark Staunton and Michael McDermott led overnight at six-under, with McGeady, Mooney and McNamara a stroke behind.
McGeady's resolve shone as he got the scent of victory in his nostrils. He rolled in a steel-nerved five-footer for par at 17 and snatched victory on the home green with birdie four.