Darren Clarke's win boosts Ryder Cup chances
Darren Clarke won the Dutch Open on Sunday, boosting his chances of a Ryder Cup wild card.
Clarke finished four strokes ahead of Irishman Paul McGinley. Sweden’s Henrik Stenson was third, one stroke further back.
A second successive four-under 66 in strong winds at the Kennemer links, for a 16-under 264 total, earned Clarke his second European Tour title of the year.
Clarke’s impressive performance is sure to be noted by European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo, who will announce his two wild cards after his team’s top-10 automatic qualifiers have been decided at Gleneagles, Scotland, next week on the close of the Johnnie Walker Championship.
The 40-year-old Clarke went into the final round three shots ahead of playing partner and world number six Stenson, who had already sealed his Ryder Cup place.
Stenson, who shot a 68, had birdies at the first three holes.
With Clarke dropping a shot at the second, Stenson took over the lead with a raking 40-footer on the third.
Clarke would not be denied, though, and regained his advantage with six birdies in the next nine holes.
A closing bogey by Stenson enabled McGinley (64), who had come through the field with a chip-in eagle and five birdies, to take second place on his own.
With a record of three wins out of three in the 2006 Ryder Cup, after a long layoff because of his late wife Heather’s terminal illness, Clarke’s recent surge of good form, including a sixth place in the WGC at Akron, will surely impress Faldo.
“It feels good to play well when you know you have to,” Northern Irishman Clarke told reporters after adding to his Asian Open win in April with his 12th European Tour success.
“I can’t have any say in the wild cards and it’s up to Nick to pick who he sees is best going to help the team but I needed to play well to make him look at me.
“Now I’ll try to do that again next week at Gleneagles.”
In the battle for Ryder Cup automatic places Denmark’s Soren Hansen slipped past Oliver Wilson to take ninth spot in the table.
Hansen again hit back from a bad start to take a share of sixth place in the Netherlands, on eight under with a 68.
The Dane dropped four shots in the first three holes on Saturday and this time had to come back from an opening double-bogey.
“I must like putting the knife to my throat,” Hansen told Reuters. “It was all down to nerves. But I again managed to dig deep. I want that Ryder Cup place so badly.”
A poor weekend cost Briton Justin Rose any chance of contending in the Fedex Cup in the United States.
After closing with a second successive 71 to be only two under, Rose decided he has to play next week’s Scottish event rather than return to the U.S. PGA tour to try to make sure of his Ryder Cup debut next month.
“I came over here to do a job and didn’t do it, so I’ll have to do it next week,” the world number 12, who is eighth on the Cup list, told reporters.”
Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, already in Faldo’s team, is suffering from a painful neck and has withdrawn from the European Masters in Switzerland in two weeks’ time.