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Clarke Seemingly Poised for Victory

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Coming off a superb round of 63 at the Gary Player Country Club which saw him just one stroke off the 36-hole pace, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke opened with a fury Saturday at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, and was four shots clear of the field when play was halted due to darkness.
 
For the day, the big Ulsterman completed 17 holes and was 3-under-par for his round, 13-under for the tournament.
 
In second was Retief Goosen at 9-under. The local product of South Africa did complete his round, as did everyone but those in the final group. He shot a 68.
 
Nick Price also made a big move on Saturday and shares a spot of joint third with Bradford Vaughan and overnight leader American Bruce Vaughan at 8-under. Price shot the round of the day, a 67, while Vaughan (Bruce) could do no better than 3-over through the 17 holes he completed on Saturday with Clarke.
 
Vaughan's early lead did not last long at all. In fact, through the first four holes of the day, he was already at 1-over on his round, while Clarke managed to pop in three consecutive birdies at 2, 3 and 4 to gain the outright lead.
 
The 32-year-old, who enjoys Ferraris as well as a good cigar, would never looked back. And given his streaky nature, he may be a tough man for any of the others to catch at this stage in the game.
 
Said Price: 'I don't think Clarke will falter. He could shoot 68 or 69 at worst in the final round and still win.'
 
Of course, Clarke made the biggest waves of his career when he beat Tiger Woods in a head-to-head duel during last season's WGC World Match Play Championship. While everyone had thought he would falter down the stretch on that occasion, he only got better, beating the World No. 1 in a 4-and-3 romping.
 
It seems he may be off to the same this weekend.
 
For defending champion and good friend of Clarke's, Lee Westwood, the six-time winner on the 2000 European Tour will, in all likelihood, not put in a successful defense this time around. He posted a 71 Saturday, and is nine shots off the pace.
 
While he will not win, perhaps Westwood will, however, be joining his pal for one of those very same cigars come Sunday afternoon.

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