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Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Sunday, 11 July 2010 18:58 UK

Frustrating finish for Darren Clarke at Scottish Open

Final leaderboard:
-12 E Molinari (Ita) -9 D Clarke (NI) -8 R Jacquelin (Fra)
-7 S Gallacher (Sco), P Hedblom (Swe), F Molinari (Ita)

Darren Clarke and his caddy
Clarke chats to his caddy during the last round at Loch Lomond

By Colin Moffat
BBC Scotland at Loch Lomond

Darren Clarke's first thoughts were on a trip to the bar after his near two-year wait for a European Tour win continued after a frustrating final day at the Scottish Open.

Following three fabulous rounds, the 41-year-old Ryder Cup hero shot a costly 76 to finish three strokes behind winner Edoardo Molinari.

He may have missed out on a 20th career triumph but a third runner-up place at Loch Lomond was enough to secure a place at the Open.

"I'll have a few pints and think about it tomorrow," was all he would say when asked about the prospect of visiting St Andrews next week.

Over those drinks, Clarke should concentrate on his earlier play and his win at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Limerick, preceding his visit to Scotland rather than his woeful opening on a testing afternoon.

Fresh from dropping four shots over the first five holes, the Ulsterman was not laughing like the rest of us when a policeman's hat blew into a burn on the sixth fairway.

There was good and bad but I don't think I would have done anything differently

Darren Clarke

And his mood was only marginally better when he completed his round with a bogey at the last.

"I'm disappointed right now," he added. "I had a bad start but I hung in.

"There was good and bad but I don't think I would have done anything differently," he added referring to the trouble he had playing from the water when racking up a double-bogey at the third.

"I tried my hardest but it wasn't good enough."

If those drinks should go on beyond a few pints, Clarke will also have time to reflect on what is a great achievement, reaching every Open since 1991, bar the 2008 event.

And he boasts a fine record at St Andrews, having finished seventh in 2000 and 15th five years ago.

He was also an Open runner-up at Troon in 1997 and placed third four years later at Lytham and St Annes.

With the weather predicted to be inclement for the opening two days of the Open, Clarke can also draw satisfaction from the way he battled the elements over his first three rounds here.

It was so windy when we started that I'd have been happy with a round under 80 when I teed off

Johan Edfors

Loch Lomond, a tree-lined parkland course, with lush fairways and receptive greens is perhaps not the best preparation for St Andrews and many of the top players chose to practice links golf rather than attend.

But, while Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Justin Rose and company are working on their bump and runs and low drives, those in the Scottish Open field have had a valuable crash course introduction to the vagaries of the Scottish weather in summertime.

Not for the first time in its short history at this venue, the event has been blighted by heavy rain.

This will come as no surprise to any of the players who have been here before or anyone who has ever organised a camping holiday in the west of Scotland.

The damp conditions have made the course play longer and the putting surfaces even slower and spongier - a far cry from the barren undulations and hard, fast greens waiting on the Fife coast.

However, getting used to the waterproofs is no bad thing ahead of the Open and we have had some wind.

"A testing breeze" was tournament director Peter Adams' description, demonstrating a fine line in understatement.

The early starters on Friday and Sunday got the rawest deal, clocking up some unwelcome high scores. Johan Edfors was one of just three players to break 70.

"It was so windy when we started that I'd have been happy with a round under 80 when I teed off," explained the Swede, who won here in 2006.

"On the greens exposed to the wind, you could leave it four metres short or push it four metres long, depending on the gusts."

It was not quite the monsoon at Birkdale in 2008 that forced Sandy Lyle to walk in or the 2002 storm that blew Tiger Woods off course at Muirfield, but it was pretty wild.

It might not have been much fun for those struggling with the elements but the experience might just help if the weather gets nasty at St Andrews.

Another small consolation for players and spectators alike was that the strong winds help keep the myriad beasties that lurk in the Loch Lomond marshland at bay.



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see also
Molinari holds off Clarke to win
11 Jul 10 |  Golf
On form Gallacher eager for Open
11 Jul 10 |  Golf
Woods suffers in St Andrews gales
11 Jul 10 |  Golf
Brothers in arms at Loch Lomond
10 Jul 10 |  Golf
Mickelson rankings gloom
09 Jul 10 |  Golf
Ishikawa mania comes to Scotland
09 Jul 10 |  Golf
Gallacher in rude health
08 Jul 10 |  Golf


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