Clarke misses the cut

Darren Clarke’s disappointing season continued today when he missed the cut for the fourth tournament in a row at the Spanish Open in Madrid.

Darren Clarke’s disappointing season continued today when he missed the cut for the fourth tournament in a row at the Spanish Open in Madrid.

Ian Woosnam has still to make a penny this year after pulling out earlier in the day with cramp in both his legs. He sees a specialist in London on Monday.

Even in an event boasting just one of the world’s top 50 – defending champion Niclas Fasth – Clarke failed to make it into the final 36 holes after rounds of 75 and 71.

At two over par he bowed out 10 strokes behind joint halfway leaders Stuart Little, of England, Spaniard Carlos Rodiles and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy.

After losing almost eight hours to rain on Thursday and then another 100 minutes on Friday the tournament still had a lot of catching up to do and the third round was not starting until late afternoon.

Clarke was not helped by a recurrence of a hamstring strain he suffered recently playing football with his younger son Conor.

The Ryder Cup star did improve from three over to level par over the opening 10 holes and that would have been good enough to survive, but then came bogeys on the 12th and 18th, where he found a bad lie in the rough by the green.

Clarke is already down to 69th in the world rankings and is now likely to fall even more.

Little, Rodiles and Bourdy, all eight under par, are chasing their first European Tour win. They have all come close to tasting victory in the past, but each of them has had to go back to the qualifying school in the last two years.

Bourdy was third in the South Airways Open at the end of 2005 – Retief Goosen and Ernie Els were first and second, so that was no disgrace – and after birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th he was on course to lead on his own, but a bad drive led to a closing bogey and 69.

Little, who set the clubhouse target late on Friday night, was runner-up in Tenerife in 2005, but slumped to 150th on the Order of Merit last season and, having failed to come through the school, needed four withdrawals this week to earn a place in the tournament.

Rodiles lost a play-off to Fredrik Jacobson for the Volvo Masters in 2003 and has two other second places to his name, but he crashed to 175th on last year’s money list before starting to rebuild confidence by sharing top spot at the qualifying school.

The trio were a stroke ahead of two more English players, Nick Dougherty and Mark Foster, and also South African Charl Schwartzel.

Woosnam, who quit the Masters in America earlier this month without hitting a shot in the event, withdrew from Centro Nacional after four holes of his second round. He was three over at the time.

“I can’t walk properly and if you can’t play if you can’t walk,” said the 49-year-old former world number one, whose season began with missed cuts in Thailand, Singapore and China.

“I just can’t get rid of it – it’s been a long time now. Just walking to the practice ground I’m knackered and after hitting 20 balls I am out of breath.

“It’s like cramp and I keep going into spasm. I feel like I’ve got to go flat out just to swing and I’m not going to play again until I feel better.”

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