28/04/2008

Darren Clarke Wins Asian Open In Dramatic Style

Northern Ireland golf star Darren Clarke has claimed his first European Tour title in five years, with a crucial win at the Asian Open in Shanghai.

Clarke managed to card a one-over-par 73 for eight-under total of 280. In a dramatic finish, the Dungannon man finished one stroke clear of Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, with a birdie.

The 39-year-old's victory in Shanghai takes him one step closer to qualifying for the Ryder Cup team he was part of for around a decade, before the sad death of his wife Heather who lost her long battle with cancer in 2006.

Speaking to reporters after his win, Clarke said: "This one is very special," he said, after winning the 11th European Tour title of his career. "This is the toughest win of all of them and it's nice to get back up to where I feel my golf should be. It was always going to be a difficult hurdle after Heather passed away. But to turn around and make a brilliant last putt to win feels pretty good."

He admitted during the tournament he almost let his nerves get the better of him, explaining: "My mind started going forward probably from about the 14th onwards.

"I lost my concentration and started thinking about Heather and the boys [sons Tyrone and Conor] and other bits and pieces."

Clarke continued: "In this game, unless you keep your concentration for the whole way around, you make mistakes and that's what I did.

"On the last green I gathered myself and said: 'Right, hit a good putt'.

(JM/KMcA)

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