Saturday, 10 July 2010
Darren Clarke  (Getty Images)
Darren Clarke (Getty Images)

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Darren Clarke could find himself caught up in a family battle as he tries to defend a three stroke halfway lead at The Barclays Scottish Open this weekend.

The 41 year old Ulsterman has dominated the first two rounds at Loch Lomond, reaching ten under par with rounds of 65 and 67 despite some really tough conditions.

Edoardo Molinari is his closest challenger and only two shots further back in fifth place is the Italian's younger brother Francesco.

The pair won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China last November, but have never duelled for a European Tour title before.

And there is more than just a trophy and €601,599 first prize at stake. Both are in contention for a Ryder Cup debut at The Celtic Manor Resort in three months' time.

Francesco, who last weekend lost a play-off in the Alstom Open de France, is currently eighth in the race for places in Colin Montgomerie's side and needs only a top-seven finish on Sunday to move up to fifth.

Edoardo has more work to do because his best performances since qualifying started last September have come on the Challenge Tour and in Japan and America.

The 29 year old former US Amateur Champion is 11th on the world points list, but only four of the team will come from that table.

"If one of us wins I think we are going to be happy any way," he said. "So we have double the chances of the others.

"We are very competitive with each other, but we are very close at the same time. I hope Francesco plays well and I hope I will play well."

Asked if their friendship extended to splitting the money he replied: "Unfortunately not. Francesco has been playing on The Tour for five years, so I'd be a much richer man than I am now!"

Clarke has earned several times more than both of them put together in a career which has brought him five Ryder Cup caps.

He is only 38th on the current standing, his last win was two years ago and for all his experience, he was feeling the pressure.

"I'm going into the weekend probably a little bit nervous, but very excited at the same time," he said.

"I want to get out there and play and give myself a chance."

An added incentive, as if he needed it, is a place in next week's Open Championship at St Andrews. That goes to the leading non-exempt player providing he finishes in the top five.

Welshman Bradley Dredge, who narrowly missed out on a win in Munich two weeks ago, and Swede Peter Hedblom shared third on six under when play resumed.


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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MOLINARI, EdoardoITA18-12
2CLARKE, DarrenNIR18-9
3JACQUELIN, RaphaëlFRA18-8
T4MOLINARI, FrancescoITA18-7
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