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Friday, 19 March 2010
KLM Open - Round Four  (Getty Images)
KLM Open - Round Four (Getty Images)

Darren Clarke hauled himself into The Ryder Cup reckoning with a superb four stroke victory over Paul McGinley at The KLM Open, with Henrik Stenson taking third place at Kennemer Golf and Country Club.

The Ulsterman's final round 66 for a 16 under par total came too late for him to force his way into an automatic Cup spot, but Nick Faldo issues two Captain’s Picks next Sunday and Clarke is firmly in the hunt.

He now heads to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles determined to make his inclusion in a sixth straight Ryder Cup Team a certainty.

"It's nice to win knowing that I had to play well and then actually doing it," said the man who was an inspiration to the last European side by winning all three of his games.

"I had two weeks to try to impress Nick. The first is out of the way and I seem to have done that.

"I don't know if I have done enough, but I'm going to Gleneagles in better shape and hopefully he will take notice.

"It’s his call and if he thinks there are other guys more deserving of a pick then I have no problem with that whatsoever. That’s why he is the Captain and if he decides not to pick me then whoever is on the plane will be part of really strong Team going there."

McGinley, who resigned as an assistant to Faldo to try to play himself into the 2008 Team, took second on 12 under par when Stenson bogeyed the last.

His final round 64 was superb, but the member of the last three Ryder Cup Teams conceded that the day belonged to Clarke.

"It was a good effort, but all credit to Darren," McGinley commented."There are only two Picks, so it's a tight situation, but I'm going to have to win (in Scotland) to give myself a chance.

"As everybody knows, it's about winning. I've no complaints - I've not played well enough, but there's one more event and I'll certainly be giving it 101%."

Clarke began the last day three clear, but there was a shock in store for him because after just three holes playing partner Stenson had turned that deficit into a one-stroke advantage.

He started with a hat-trick of birdies whereas Clarke went over the green on the long second and ran up a bogey six.

However, Clarke birdied three of the next four and with the Swede slipping at the seventh and ninth - bogey and double bogey - he started the back nine four clear and for good measure birdied the next three holes.

Despite Stenson's brief trip to the top of the leaderboard, Clarke did not fear for his position. He added: "I am 40 years old, six feet two inches and a little bit overweight. Not much frightens me I have to say. But, he is a great player and he was always going to come at me at some stage.

"I caught got between clubs on the second and made a mistake by getting too aggressive with my pitch but it’s 18 holes, not a sprint from the start and I knew that I was going to have some chances because I was feeling so good swinging the club."

Three automatic Cup places are still up for grabs and by finishing 34th, eighth-placed Justin Rose confirmed he will head to Gleneagles to make sure of his selection.

Dane Soren Hansen finished joint sixth at Kennemer and moves above Oliver Wilson into ninth spot on the Cup standings. They will all be trying to hold off German Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty in the final counting tournament.

Kaymer stays in 11th spot after finishing down in 54th place on two over and said: "It was a disappointing week; a little bit frustrating because I'm playing well actually, but can't score well at the moment.

"Obviously Gleneagles is my last chance. I've just got to play my game - I can't do anything about the other guys."

Defending Dutch Open champion Fisher had a chance to go above Poulter into 12th on the points table when he burst into a share of fifth with four to play, but two bogeys in the last three sent him sliding back to 20th alongside Wilson.

The day also saw only the third albatross of the European Tour season, Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee holing a 190 yard six iron for a two on the long 12th.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CLARKE, DarrenNIR18-16
2MCGINLEY, PaulIRL18-12
3STENSON, HenrikSWE18-11
T4WARREN, MarcSCO18-9
T4SLATTERY, LeeENG18-9
T6HANSEN, SorenDEN18-8
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