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Page last updated at 18:27 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 19:27 UK

Clarke form boosts Ryder chances

-8 D Clarke, R Rock, A Noren (Swe) -7 R Magowan, H Stenson (Swe) -6 F Aguilar (Chi), M Campbell (NZ),S Dyson, S Hansen (Den) Selected others: -5 A Wall -4 J Rose +1 N Dougherty

Darren Clarke
Clarke is aiming to play in his sixth Ryder Cup in September

Darren Clarke gave a huge boost to his Ryder Cup wildcard hopes by grabbing a share of the lead at the KLM Open.

The 40-year-old wanted to show European skipper Nick Faldo he has form as well as experience, and did just that with a sparkling six-under-par 64 in Holland.

He is on eight under par with England's Robert Rock and Swede Alexander Noren.

The Ulsterman has not shot a better score in a European Tour event since his round of 60 during the European Open at The K Club in 1999.

"I need to play well this week and next, and so far I've done that," said Clarke, who kept a bogey off his card on a Kennemer course he had played before this event.

"If Nick then feels I am worthy of a pick so be it. If not then that's acceptable.

"I was just very relaxed out there. With the boys (sons Tyrone and Conor) here I've got to be on my best behaviour, and my attitude is just pretty good.

"I've taken a lot of pressure off myself and feel comfortable. I've been playing well and I'm in a good position now."


Faldo has two wildcards to hand out on Sunday week, and Paul Casey is tipped for one of them after his recent run. Open runner-up Ian Poulter still has hopes of being one of the 10 to qualify automatically.

As for the race for the last three automatic spots in Faldo's side, Justin Rose, Oliver Wilson and Soren Hansen are still in control their own destiny.

Rose, joint fifth after an opening 67, lost some ground with a 69, but three birdies made it a better day than it looked like being at one stage.

Fellow Englishman Wilson, ninth in the standings, remained one under, while Dane Hansen's 69 for six under was no mean effort given that he resumed with a double bogey six.

Hansen is 213 points ahead of German Martin Kaymer in the last automatic spot, and Kaymer reached four under before bogeying two of the last three for a 66.

Defending champion Ross Fisher, 13th in the Ryder race, just made it through to the weekend on level par, but Nick Dougherty's lip-out on the last for a 68 and one over total saw him miss the cut.

Dougherty is 14th on the table and will be glad the race includes another event - next week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

see also
European Ryder Cup rankings
17 Aug 08 |  Golf

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