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Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Clarke cruises to English title
Darren Clarke defied the conditions to move ahead
Darren Clarke defied the conditions to move ahead
Darren Clarke cruised to a hat-trick of English Open titles on Sunday as he recorded an impressive three-stroke victory at Forest of Arden.

The Northern Irishman carded a 68 to finish on 17 under, with Denmark's Soren Hansen behind him in second.

Welshman Phillip Price shared third place with Raphael Jacquelin, joint leader overnight, on 276.

Clarke had been tied for the lead after each of the first three rounds and had admonished himself on Saturday night for not building the decisive lead his sparkling play deserved.

  Final leaderboard
-17 Darren Clarke (NIre)
-14 Soren Hansen (Den)
-12 Phillip Price (Wal), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra)
-11 Wei-Tze Yeh (Chn)
-10 Sandy Lyle (Sco), Justin Rose (Eng), Sam Walker (Eng)
-9 Bradley Dredge (Wal)

But as playing conditions worsened for Sunday's final round, the double champion's quality - particularly with the irons - began to tell as he powered clear of the field.

He defied rain and wind to reach the turn in 35, two ahead of his rivals, and then rammed home his advantage as conditions improved on the closing nine.

The tournament was effectively won on the 11th and 12th, from which Clarke emerged with a demoralising five-shot lead.

The Ryder Cup player almost holed a near-perfect chip from the greenside rough at 11, leaving himself a simple par.

But playing partner Jacquelin was well short with his effort from a similar spot and ended up with a bogey.

Clarke, winner of this tournament in two of the last three years, now smelled blood and delivered the killer blow on the next hole.

For the second day running, he eagled the par-five 12th, holing a big-breaking putt to go 16 under and five clear of the field.

Soren Hansen emerged as Clarke's main rival
Soren Hansen emerged as Clarke's main rival

Steady golf was now all that was required over the closing holes, but Clarke insisted on finishing in style by adding another birdie on 17.

Runner-up Hansen had yo-yoed up and down the leaderboard all day, but ended with birdies at 16, 17 and 18 to secure second spot at 14 under.

Price's third place was reward for just four bogeys in 72 holes.

The Welshman dropped the sole shot of his final round at nine and moved up the leaderboard with birdies at 15 and 17.

Jacquelin had threatened to collapse after Clarke asserted his authority at 11 and 12 but recovered in the closing stages to escape with a 73 and a share of third.

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BBC Five Live's Norman Dabell
"The prize was going nowhere else "
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07 Jun 02 | Golf
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