Clarke takes control in Scotland

09/07/2010 18:05:17
Darren Clarke  (Getty Images)
Darren Clarke (Getty Images)

Darren Clarke turned in another brilliant performance in wet weather at Loch Lomond to take command of The Barclays Scottish Open at the halfway stage.

The 41 year old Ulsterman, now 179th in the Official World Golf Ranking, moved to ten under par and three clear of second-placed Italian Edoardo Molinari after adding a four under par 67 to his opening 65.

Given the "brutal" conditions, Clarke considered it an even more satisfying round. His one bogey - the only one he has had in 36 holes so far - came when he three-putted from just 20 feet at the short 11th.

Molinari, whose younger brother and Omega Mission Hills World Cup-winning partner Francesco is in fifth place at five under, shot 69 and admitted he would love to partner his sibling in the final round.

He said: "It would be nice to play with him on Sunday.

"We have double the chances of the others. We are competitive, but we are very close and happy for the other."

Welshman Bradley Dredge and Swede Peter Hedblom shared third place. They were partners in the first two rounds and have matched each other with scores of 67 and 69.

Clarke, superbly placed now to claim The Open Championship place which is up for grabs at the event, caused some laughter when he offered his own description of the morning weather.

When asked for the last time he had played through such a deluge he replied: "It wasn't torrential heavy rain, it was just torrential rain.

"If you're from Ireland there's a difference, a massive difference.

"We knew it was going to be very hard, but obviously at home in Portrush I've had much worse than this.

"When we got on the first tee and there was no placing we were all surprised. The ball was going nowhere and consequently the course was playing brutally long.

"You have to take what the course gives you and try to grind out a score. Certainly I've very pleased to have ground out four under - I thought anything around level par was going to be pretty good."

After his early slip-up - the 11th was his second hole - he sank a 15 foot putt on the next, chipped in for another birdie at the demanding 16th and holed from just off the edge at the first and third.

On the fourth a 20 footer found the target and he parred in over a closing stretch which saw John Daly go from six under to two under and Ernie Els have back-to-back double bogeys.

US Open Championship winner Graeme McDowell safely made it through the cut on level par after another 71 on his return after his Pebble Beach victory.

Dredge commented: "Yesterday I thought it was one of the toughest conditions we've played in, quite windy and the pins were quite difficult as well.

"And today, I think it's even more difficult in this rain because the ball is going so short. Darren is at ten under at the moment - that's some playing, it really is."

Hedblom revealed he was not surprised by Clarke's form after witnessing his JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am triumph earlier in the week.

"It's unbelievable to shoot that score today, the way the course is playing," he said. "But he played good Monday, Tuesday, as well, earlier this week, so he's back to his best - it's nice to see."