Rose ends Clarke challenge

Rose ends Clarke challenge

Justin Rose piled on the agony for Darren Clarke with a 6&4 drubbing at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain today.

Open champion Clarke had also lost to Robert Rock earlier in the day - that at least went to the final green - and so made yet another early exit from a tournament.

The 43-year-old has yet to survive a halfway cut this season and has still to record his first top-10 finish since his memorable triumph at Sandwich last summer.

Rose, in contrast, has not gone beyond the 14th hole in either of his games - he crushed Rock 7&6 - and afterwards expressed empathy for Clarke's plight.

He, after all, endured 21 successive missed cuts in the year that followed his fourth-place finish as a 17-year-old amateur in the 1998 Open.

Rose, whose next opponent Nicolas Colsaerts won a play-off against last year's Masters champion Charl Schwartzel to reach the last 16, said: "We've all been through ebbs and flows.

"He was in great spirits considering and very complimentary to me. He's got it in perspective I guess - it's tough, but it's not like he's checked out. He still wants to be a great player.

"He obviously eluded to the fact that nothing has gone terribly right (on the course) since winning The Open, but the only thing to hopefully draw on is his family life (Clarke married again last month) and he's really enjoying being back in Northern Ireland.

"You can see it still hurts, but he's a good enough player that hopefully it will turn round."

Rose went four up on the 574-yard eighth even though he hit only one shot there. Clarke pulled his drive into bushes, the ball was never found and he decided not to return to the tee.

Defending champion Ian Poulter, Rose's great friend and Ryder Cup partner in 2008, is still going strong and they could meet in Sunday's final.

After Australian John Senden lost to both Poulter and 21-year-old Tom Lewis, the only thing at stake when the two Englishmen - both Hertfordshire players - clashed was who topped the group. Both were already through.

Poulter won it 4&3 to set up a meeting with big-hitting Alvaro Quiros, while Lewis, who won the Portugal Masters last October in only his third start as a professional, is also up against Spanish opposition in Sergio Garcia.

"I don't think either of us were 100% switched on - I guess it was hard to get that adrenaline rush you normally get in match play," said Poulter, who beat Luke Donald in last year's final.

Biggest shock of the day came right at the end when Hull's Richard Finch, 218th in the world, knocked out top seed Martin Kaymer when the world number nine missed a three-footer on the last.

There was no reprieve for Kaymer because he had also lost to Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

Finch, whose third-place finish in last month's China Open qualified him for the 24-man field because top two Branden Grace and Colsaerts already had places, next plays Graeme McDowell.

Northern Ireland's 2010 US Open champion made it two wins out of two, following his last-green success over Robert Karlsson with a 4&3 victory over South African Jbe Kruger.

Karlsson, who stepped in on Sunday for the injured Paul Casey, is still alive after beating Kruger in a play-off. He will meet Cabrera-Bello.

Scot Paul Lawrie, in his 500th European Tour event, won his group, but only in a play-off with Colombian Camilo Villegas after they halved.

It is Dane Thomas Bjorn next for the former Open champion. Bjorn was involved in a three-way shoot-out with American Brandt Snedeker and Grace.

Snedeker, reunited with his own full set of clubs after they failed to arrive for the start of the event yesterday and he set off with 10 borrowed ones, birdied the first extra hole and will now take on Villegas.

The other match is between Rock and the other group winner Retief Goosen, who has already beaten Colsaerts and Schwartzel.

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