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Page last updated at 17:53 GMT, Saturday, 23 August 2008 18:53 UK

Commanding Clarke boosts Cup bid

-12 D Clarke -9 H Stenson (Swe) -8 J Bickerton -7 M Warren, M Campbell (NZ) -6 G Bourdy (Fra), S Dyson, S Hansen (Den), P McGinley, A Noren (Swe), A Wall
Selected others: -5 O Wilson -3 J Rose -1 R Fisher

Darren Clarke celebrates a putt during his third-round 66
Clarke is doing his utmost to become one of Faldo's two picks

Darren Clarke will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the KLM Open as he bids to give Nick Faldo a further Ryder Cup nudge on Sunday.

The Northern Irishman followed his second-round 64 with a 66 to put himself within sight of a second European Tour title of the season.

The 40-year-old is a leading contender for one of European captain Faldo's two wildcard picks.

Swede Henrik Stenson, already in the team, trails Clarke by three shots.

Englishman John Bickerton is a further shot back, with another Ryder Cup hopeful, Dane Soren Hansen, among a group six shots adrift that also includes Ireland's Paul McGinley.

But Clarke, competing with Colin Montgomerie, Paul Casey and possibly Ian Poulter - who may yet qualify automatically - for one of Faldo's selections, could not have timed his run into form better, with Faldo announcing his picks a week on Sunday.

"I came here to try to show Nick I have a bit of game and if I play well I have a great chance," he said.

That was pathetic - just pathetic. A load of old rubbish

Justin Rose after his one-over 71
"I had lots of chances and hit a lot of really good shots - and a couple of poor ones, probably due to a lack of concentration.

"I'm playing with one of the great players in the world in Henrik again tomorrow (Sunday), so it should be great. I knew I was playing OK and I've really enjoyed the course."

But while Clarke was in good spirits after a joint best-of-the-day round, Justin Rose, four adrift overnight, was fuming after falling back into the pack.

Rose, eighth in the points race, flew from America to try to clinch a Ryder Cup debut and hoped he might be able to head straight back across the Atlantic for the second leg of the FedEx Cup play-offs.

But he might have to stay for the final qualifying event, the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, after three-putting from inside 15 feet at the last for a one-over 71 for three under and joint 24th place.

"That was pathetic - just pathetic. A load of old rubbish," said the world number 12.

"It's still looking good for me and if I can finish ahead of the guys I will probably take my chances. But my confidence is not great at the moment."

Among the other contenders still hoping to gain one of the last three automatic Ryder Cup spots, Oliver Wilson is at five under after a bogey-free 66, while Soren Hansen is on six under after a 70.

Defending champion Ross Fisher, 13th in the Ryder race, improved only to one under with a 69 and must now pin his hopes on a star performance at Gleneagles.

see also
European Ryder Cup rankings
17 Aug 08 |  Golf

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