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Clarke's out of luck

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Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke

The luck of the Irish was certainly not with Darren Clarke after he threatened to move into contention at Royal Portrush today.

After a birdie-eagle start to his third round in an Irish Open that means so much to him - Northern Ireland has not hosted it since 1953 - the Open champion ran up a double-bogey seven on the long 17th during the worst of the wind and rain.

"We couldn't reach the fairway - it was a 250-yard carry and we were only hitting it 235," said Clarke, giving a wry smile as conditions eased the moment he finished with a 73 for three under.

After finding the left rough his eight-iron second went only 80 yards, his third found a bunker short of the green and then he three-putted.

"That's Royal Portrush. That's links golf. It's much easier now," he added.

"My goal was maybe to finish eight under and I had chances to do it. It was the conditions I wanted and I didn't capitalise."

At least the 43-year-old was getting more competitive golf under his belt.

He had not made a cut all year until this week and was returning after a month's absence resting a groin strain.

Clarke also has next week's French Open in Paris before his defence of The Open a fortnight later.

PA