Clarke just misses out

Darren Clarke just failed in a brilliant attempt to make the halfway cut in the Quinn Direct British Masters at The Belfry today.

An opening 80 on Thursday had left Clarke down in joint 136th place in the 144-strong field but when he resumed his fog-delayed second round this morning the Ulsterman gave the crowd plenty to cheer.

Already one under for his round, Clarke set off again on the 384-yard 13th and while playing partner Jeev Milkha Singh, joint overnight leader with Lee Westwood, went out of bounds he pitched to seven feet.

After holing that the 40-year-old hit his tee shot to the 14th to nine feet and rolled that one in too.

Needing two more birdies Clarke, controversially left out of last week’s Ryder Cup by captain Nick Faldo despite his great record in the match and two wins this season, missed out on the long 15th after driving into a bunker.

He also parred the 16th, but picking up a four at the 564-yard next meant a three was required on the famous 473-yard last. And from the fringe of the green his 40-foot attempt trickled narrowly wide.

“Missing the cut is not what I wanted,” he said after signing for a 68 and four-over aggregate of 148.

“But I didn’t want to go to Scotland next week on the back of another bad round.”

Before turning his thoughts to the Dunhill Links Championship, however, Clarke had another important occasion to get to – his son Conor’s eighth birthday party this afternoon.

Over three hours had been lost to the fog yesterday morning and the tournament was halted again after just two minutes’ play first thing this morning.

It was 10.30am before the next restart was possible and while Singh, one of three players to hole-in-one yesterday, fell back from six under to four under with a 71 Swede Alexander Noren birdied the sixth and completed a 66 to be alongside Westwood at the top of the leaderboard.

Westwood was in the half whose second rounds were played yesterday and he was grateful for the lie-in after confessing to feeling “shattered” and “running on empty” after his Ryder Cup efforts.

He and Noren were a stroke ahead of Scot Marc Warren, England’s Ross Fisher, Spaniard Alejandro Canizares and Thai Thongchai Jaidee.

Liverpool’s Nick Dougherty, so close to earning a Ryder Cup debut, had high hopes of moving into contention after his opening 70, but a nightmare finish to his second round sent him out of the tournament.

One under with three to play Dougherty bogeyed the 16th and 17th, then crashed to a quadruple-bogey eight on the last.

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