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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2006, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
Howell pips Clarke to be top Brit
David Howell
Howell's late birdies lifted the Englishman into a tie for 19th
David Howell carded three late birdies to rescue a disappointing weekend and finish as the best-placed British player at Augusta at two over par.

The 30-year-old Englishman played solid golf for two days only to see much of his good work wasted over the weekend.

Howell posted a 76 for his third round, while three straight birdies from the 13th helped him to a 72 in the fourth.

But Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, 37, slumped in the final round, ending bogey-bogey to slide to three over.

Clarke said: "Just nothing happened at all. Everything that had a chance of going in stayed out and it was just one of those days.

"I got off to a great start, but couldn't get anything to go in.

It's a step in the right direction and I think it's my second-best finish in a major
David Howell
"I shot 77, but it wasn't 77 golf. So be it. Obviously disappointing, but it would have been worse if I had played badly. I was happy with my attitude."

Howell, who led the European challenge after the first two rounds, came a cropper in the third round for the second straight year. His fourth-round effort was solid but it needed to be much more than that.

"Not disastrous but not quite what I was after," said Howell when asked about his fourth-round 72.

"It was the third round which hit me for the second time. I wasn't really on top form coming here and needed to play a bit better and never really did so.

"It's a step in the right direction and I think it's my second-best finish in a major."

Howell's English compatriot Luke Donald signed off with a 74, a disappointing end to a lacklustre second visit to Augusta.

It think I need a different game plan, I don't think it's length - maybe a different strategy
Luke Donald
The 28-year-old was third on his Masters debut last year and, after a good start to the season, much was expected of him this year.

But the European Ryder Cup star failed to find his best form all week, as his eight-over-par total would suggest.

Donald said: "I missed too many putts at the weekend and my iron play wasn't sharp enough."

Donald added that he had struggled especially on the holes that had been lengthened since last year.

"I need to try to figure out how to play those holes better," he said.

"It think I need a different game plan. I don't think it's length. Maybe a different strategy. I need to think about it."

Interview: Luke Donald

Interview: Darren Clarke


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