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Darren Clarke coasts to victory in Japan

Britain's Darren Clarke fired a closing 68 to win Japan's Taiheiyo Masters with a record 22-under-par total of 266 on Sunday.

The cigar-puffing Northern Irishman finished six shots clear of European Ryder Cup team mate Lee Westwood and Japan's Nozomi Kawahara in chilly Shizuoka.

It was Clarke's second victory in Japan after winning the 2001 Chunichi Crowns title and was worth $280,000.

"It's been a frustrating year where I haven't managed to win so it's great," said Clarke, who has had to throw out most of his wardrobe over the past year after going on a strict diet.

Slimmer and fitter, the 36-year-old said he felt confident he could launch a serious bid for his first major title next year.

"That's why I stopped drinking all the beers and have been trying to get fit," he told reporters.

Clarke's 266-stroke total broke the previous tournament record by four shots.

Westwood, who won the title in 1996, 1997 and 1998, also closed with a 68 in the shadow of Mount Fuji.

Clarke teed off in the final round with a four-stroke advantage and never looked like relinquishing his stranglehold at the $1.4 million event despite a bogey on the par-four second.

266 Darren Clarke (NIrl) 66 65 67 68

272 Lee Westwood (Eng) 68 69 67 68, Nozomi Kawahara 67 69 66 70

274 Hidemasa Hoshino 69 70 67 68, Hideki Kase 67 70 68 69

275 Shingo Katayama 68 65 72 70, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 69 69 68 69, Nobuhiro Masuda 73 68 71 63

276 Azuma Yano 69 69 70 68, Yong-eun Yang (Kor) 71 67 69 69, Toru Taniguchi 67 70 71 68, Christian Pena (USA) 75 68 68 65

277 Koaki Idoki 68 69 71 69, Joe Ozaki 70 70 67 70, Kiyoshi Miyazato 70 67 71 69, Kenichi Kuboya 68 69 71 69, Ryoken Kawagishi 66 70 72 69

278 David Smail (USA) 69 71 70 68

279 Shinixhi Yokota 71 71 69 68, Takashi Kamiyama 70 72 68 69, Toshimitsu Izawa 71 72 65 71, Steve Conran (Aus) 71 71 67 70

280 Kiyoshi Murota 68 73 68 71, Tsuyoshi Yoneyama 73 68 68 71, Lian-Wei Zhang (Chn) 72 67 68 73, Kiyoshi Maita 68 71 71 70, Shigemasa Higaki 69 73 70 68

281 Wei-Tze Yeh (Tpe) 67 68 69 77, Keiichiro Fukabori 75 68 72 66, Tatsuya Mitsuhashi 69 70 72 70, Kazuhiko Hosokawa 71 73 70 67, Yoshiaki Mano 69 70 73 69, Hideto Tanihara 68 71 72 70

282 Katsunori Kuwabara 69 68 72 73, Masahiro Kuramoto 69 75 70 68, Kaysumune Imai 72 70 70 70, Tommy Nakajima 71 72 70 69, Yasuharu Imano 68 74 71 69

283 Taichi Teshima 69 73 71 70, Frankie Minoza (Phi) 72 72 67 72, Sk Ho (Kor) 70 73 70 70, Keng-chi Lin (Tpe) 72 71 68 72

284 Takenori Hiraishi 68 71 74 71, Masanori Kobayashi 70 72 69 73, Hiroshi Gohda 69 72 71 72, Chawalit Plaphol (Tha) 73 70 70 71, Nobuhito Sato 71 67 70 76

285 Patrick Sheehan (USA) 71 70 71 73, Toru Suzuki 70 70 74 71, Masatsugu Morufuji 73 70 72 70

286 Masashi Ozaki 75 69 71 71, Tsukasa Watanabe 72 67 72 75, Nobuo Serizawa 71 70 72 73

287 Daisuke Maruyama 69 71 75 72, Jong-duk Kim (Sin) 72 70 73 72, Katsuyoshi Tomori 75 68 72 72

288 Katsuya Nakagawa 71 71 71 75, Hiroyuki Fujita 71 70 74 73

289 Brendan Jones (Aus) 72 71 73 73

290 Mamo Osanai 71 73 75 71

295 Kazuhiro Takami 73 68 77 77

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