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Italian Open: Darren Clarke makes storming finish

By Bernie McGuire

An electrical storm delay ignited Darren Clarke's BMW Italian Open challenge when he returned to birdie four holes in succession on the Royal Park course in Turin.



Clarke was staring at a one foot putt for birdie on the 14th hole of an already saturated course when the warning alarm sounded.

He spent the 80 minutes off the course downing two cups of coffee and lighting up two cigarettes before emerging to knock in his birdie putt and then proceed to birdie the following three.

Clarke could have made it five birdies in a row after he found a greenside bunker at the 18th and with his sand wedge shot just missing the hole.

Portrush's newest resident had jumped from a share of 69th before the stoppage to finish in a share of 21st place after a round of 66 for a seven under par tally.

“I shot a 63 in the Pro-Am on Wednesday, so I am playing really well,” said Clarke.

“As for today, I just couldn't buy a putt until I had birdies at 11 and 12 ahead of the stoppage.

“So to come out after the delay and birdie four in a row was really good but then the last could also have gone in and that would have been five in a row.

“I just got too aggressive with my drive on 18 and pulled it into the bunker.

“But I'm just five behind and on this golf course, and in these conditions with the greens just so good despite the rain, that's not many.”

Clarke will be chasing England's Robert Rock who carded a second round 68 to head the field by one stroke on 12-under par.

Compatriot Chris Wood (69), with Belfast caddy Dave McNeilly on the bag, and Dutchman Joost Luiten (67) are next best on 11-under par. Six players including the Italian duo of Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manessero, both with 68s, are tied in fourth spot at 10-under par.

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