Darren Clarke left in slow lane by Paul Casey
Paul Casey defied superstition and dire warnings from Ian Poulter by remaining all week in Room 666 at the Ritz-Carton in Bahrain... and ended-up with his first victory in 20 months at the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions in the oil-rich Arabian Kingdom.
Cruel misfortune instead befell Casey's closest challenger, Peter Hanson, on the 72nd hole at The Royal Golf Club when, to the Swede's disbelief and dismay, his ball landed twice in evil lies, first in the rough and then in a footprint in a greenside trap.
The resulting bogey five left Hanson cursing his bad luck on 19-under, one behind Casey, with whom he'd engaged in an intriguing duel all afternoon after they'd entered the final day locked together on 16-under.
“To catch two unplayable lies on the one hole is unbelievable,” said Hanson after signing for his 69. “I'm pretty upset.
“I thought someone trod on my ball but you can get a bad lie in the rough. However, to have someone not rake a bunker is pretty infuriating. Yet, to be fair, Paul played steady golf as well and came out just a bit better today.”
Spookily, Darren Clarke had three sixes on his card.
The first bad omen came at the par five ninth, where a couple of diabolical duffed chips at the back of the green led to a bogey which sorely dented the Ulsterman's hopes of clinching a first victory on Tour since August 2008.
Just one stroke off the lead as he set out yesterday, Clarke, 42, had hit the front with birdies at the first and third. However, he'd ultimately sign for a 73 and finish in a five-way tie for eighth on 14-under.
A cheque for €34,986 was poor consolation indeed after an ill-starred double-bogey six at the last had brought “a disappointing round to a very disappointing conclusion.
“It was one of those days when everything was very slightly off,” the Dungannon man added. “What happened at 18 summed it all up — I leaked the drive, it went into the water, then my approach shot bounced off a sprinkler head and went into a bunker.”
Yet the damage had been done earlier, particularly by those two ill-judged shots with his lob wedge at nine.
“That little patch at the back of that green was not the same as the rest of the turf, it's softer,” he explained. “The easier option was to putt it or chip and run it but I was thinking of holing it and just got two completely wrong.”
Clarke's mood was even darker walking off the green at the par five 13th after missing a four foot putt for par. As the early-starters made hay in balmy sunshine (Dane Soren Kjeldsen and England's Richard Finch compiling course-record 63s), Padraig Harrington (71), Peter Lawrie (71) and Michael Hoey (77) all had mazy, crazy final rounds.
Though he fired off four birdies in his first six holes, Harrington's final five were pure slapstick as he slid into 58th place.
Leona Maguire continued her march of triumph in the Portuguese Ladies championship when she clinched the title by a massive 15 shots at Aroeira golf club near Lisbon yesterday.
The 16-year-old from the Slieve Russell club in county Cavan took an eight shot lead into the final round and proved unstoppable as she scored a four under par 68 for a total of 274 — 14 under.
Her nearest challengers were Karolin Lampert (Germany) and Holland's Karlijn Zaanen who each filed 289, one over par.
Lisa Maguire shot a level par 72 for 292 and 10th place, and the twins combined to win the Nations Cup section.
Charlene Reid (Royal Portrush) and Gillian O'Leary (Cork) had final rounds of 75 (306 total) and 79 (308 total) respectively.