Darren Clarke blows great chance in New Delhi
Eagles usually arouse a more enthusiastic response on the golf course but Darren Clarke was in no mood for high-fives or cartwheels when he landed one at his final hole in the Avantha Masters.
All the Ulsterman could muster was a tight grin and a rueful rub of the chin as he watched his putt from the fringe role 25 feet across the 18th green and tumble into the cup for an eagle three (and a round of one-under par 71).
A weekend in New Delhi which promised so much ended in frustration for Clarke.
Tied eighth on 10-under par (worth 29,775 euro), he finished four behind Australia's Andrew Dodt, 24, who marked his decision to take out European Tour membership just last week with his first victory as a pro.
Seven men, including Dodt, had been tied for the lead on 11-under entering the fourth round, suggesting an exciting climax at DLF Golf and Country Club.
Yet it didn't turn out that way as most of the front runners and their closest pursuers, including Clarke, struggled to find the pace and read the line on heavily-grained greens.
Dodt eventually reached out and grabbed the title, landing two birdies in the final three holes of his fourth round 68. This edged him one stroke ahead of 2008 Irish Open champion Richard Finch at the top of the leaderboard after the Englishman's solitary, stirring effort to seize the day with a closing 66.
Though Clarke finished with a bogey six at 18 on Saturday after dumping his approach into water, he went into the final round just two strokes off the lead and with everything to play for — and he had the opposition looking anxiously over their shoulder as he snapped-up two birdies in his opening four holes.
Yet Clarke would find it impossible to make any further headway, his prospects of a first victory since August 2008 taking a hard knock when he pulled his second into the water at the par five ninth, leading to another dispiriting bogey six.
A tiny glimmer arose when Clarke rolled-in a seven foot birdie putt at 12 but bogeys at 14, 15 and then 17, where he missed feebly from inside three feet to save par, brought the curtain down on the Ryder Cup veteran's tournament long before that eagle at 18.
There's little wrong with Clarke's golf game but his resolve was too easily broken on the greens in Dubai last week and once again in New Delhi.
Gareth Maybin's prospects of taking a sizeable cheque expired as he slumped to a final round 77 yesterday, ultimately earning 7,500 euro in a tie for 44th place on two-under.
English prospect Ollie Fisher, playing on a sponsor's invite, earned his berth in Malaysia this week courtesy of his eighth place alongside Clarke yesterday.