Clarke slips but remains well-placed

Clarke slips but remains well-placed

Darren Clarke is still looking good to claim the last-but-one place in the Open Championship at St Andrews next week.

But whether he can do it by capturing the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond - and with it take his European Tour earnings through the £15m mark - remains to be seen.

The 41-year-old Ulsterman, who has suddenly this week really ignited a bid for a sixth Ryder Cup cap in October, saw a four-stroke lead turn into a one-stroke deficit in today’s high-quality third round.

And Clarke now has to go into the closing 18 holes of the £3m event facing not one, but both the Molinari brothers.

Edoardo, the older but less experienced of the two World Cup holders, is the one who leads after four birdies in the last five holes gave him a scintillating eight under par 63, only one off Retief Goosen’s course record.

The lowest round of the 29-year-old’s European Tour career took Molinari to 15 under par.

Clarke, though, added a second successive 67 to his opening 65 to be 14 under as the pair left the best of the rest trailing well behind.

Francesco Molinari, with a golden opportunity to move from ninth to fifth in the Ryder Cup race, shares third spot with Swede Peter Hedblom, but they are a massive seven shots behind Francesco’s brother after rounds of 68 and 69 respectively.

There is one Open spot up for grabs at the end and both Molinaris are already in the championship, but Hedblom is not and it goes to the leading non-exempt player in the top five tomorrow night.

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