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Clarke's out of luck


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.