Date: August 25, 2008

Clarke ‘Ryders’ to victory

Darren Clarke has lifted the trophy which will surely bring with it an invitation from Nick Faldo to be part of his Ryder Cup team. Clarke captured his second victory of the season at the KLM Open in Holland – and did it by a commanding four-stroke margin. Paul McGinley, his cup team-mate in the last three matches, finished runner-up after a storming 64, but conceded that the day belonged to Clarke. The Ulsterman&aposs 66 for a 16-under-par total came too late for him to force his way into an automatic cup spot, but Faldo hands out two wild cards next Sunday and Clarke and Paul Casey are now big favourites for them. If they are picked it would mean Colin Montgomerie missing his first match since his 1991 debut, McGinley not playing for the first time since 1999 and Open runner-up Ian Poulter possibly being on the outside too, although he still has a chance to be in the top 10 on the points table in next week&aposs Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. While Clarke, the overnight leader, grabbed the attention it wasn&apost such a rewarding end to the week for the field&aposs three Australians. Peter Fowler and Matthew Millar were best placed of the trio in a tie for 26th after a Sunday 69 and 67 respectively. Peter O&aposMalley finished with a 75 to be in a share of 58th place. But none of the Australians or any other player in the field would begrudge Clarke his moment in the sun. After a hug and a high-five with his two sons Tyrone and Conor – it is the first time they have been present for one of his wins – he reflected on a superb week&aposs work. “It&aposs nice to win knowing that I had to play well and then actually doing it,” said the man who was an inspiration to the last European side by winning all his three games just six weeks after his wife Heather died of breast cancer. “I had two weeks to try to impress Nick. The first is out of the way and I seem to have done that.” “I don&apost know if I have done enough, but I&aposm going to Gleneagles in better shape and hopefully he will take notice.” The day also saw only the third albatross of the European Tour season, Thailand&aposs Thongchai Jaidee holing a 190-yard six-iron for a two on the long 12th.