Northern Irishman Owns English Open


WARWICKSHIRE, England -- Darren Clarke claimed his third English Open title in four years by completing a wire-to-wire victory Sunday at the rainy Marriott Forest of Arden. He posted his second 68 of the weekend to finish three shots ahead of Soren Hansen with a 17-under-par total of 271.
The 33-year-old from Northern Ireland carded 18 birdies and two eagles against only five bogeys this week, while hitting over 80 percent of the fairways. His final round was highlighted by a left-to-right breaking eagle putt from 12 feet at the 547-yard par-5 12th.
Clarke has dominated this event with three wins, including back-to-back triumphs in 1999 and 2000, and four other top-five finishes in 12 starts. Sunday's victory was his ninth on the European Tour and put him in the perfect frame of mind heading into the U.S. Open.
'My game is pretty solid right now,' said Clarke, who will play alongside world No. 1 Tiger Woods in the first two rounds at Bethpage State Park in New York. 'If I can keep the driver going the way it was this week then hopefully I'll go there and hit as many quality shots as I've done this week, and hopefully give myself a chance.'
Clarke, who shared the lead after each of the first three rounds, played the same solid golf he had all week while his competition faded in Sunday's wet and dreary conditions.
Hansen, one stroke back of Clarke and Raphael Jacquelin through 54 holes, kept pace early on the final day with three birdies and a bogey over the first seven holes. The 28-year-old Dane dropped three shots in the middle of his round, however, but finished strong with a trio of birdies to shoot 2-under 70 and match his career-best result on the European Tour.
'It was really tough around the turn,' said Hansen, who also finished second at last year's European Masters in Switzerland. 'The wind was howling and the rain was coming down sideways so it was easy to make mistakes. Darren didn't, so all credit to him.'
Jacquelin bogeyed the ninth, 11th and 12th holes to slip to 10-under beforere over 73 to earn a share of 12-under 276 with Phillip Price (70) of Wales.
The third-place showing was the second in as many weeks for Price, who led much of last week's British Masters before finishing behind Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.
Final results from the English Open