Golf: Clarke wins heavyweight clash

SUNDAYS in Thame have been anything but for Colin Montgomerie. Although his score, like the weather, was a tremendous improvement on Sabbaths' past, the Scot was unable to resist Darren Clarke's charge to victory in the Benson and Hedges International.

Montgomerie spent most of the day beside himself but despite this enlarged target, luck resolutely managed to avoid him. `Philosophical' would be one description of the look on Monty's face after picking up just two birdies during his 72, but it would not necessarily be the right one. Putts stopped on lips, balls spun off greens, chips were duffed and not for the first time the speed cameras on the M40 would have been all a blur last night.

Instead, it was the other member of the heavyweight final pairing who prevailed. Clarke made five birdies in his front nine of 32 and defended his lead stoutly on the way home to claim the pounds 125,000 first prize.

More of a threat than his playing partner, early on, was Massimo Florioli. The Italian's birdie-bogey run between the second and the sixth had his name appearing and disappearing from the top of the leaderboard like the chief minister of San Marino trying repeatedly to gatecrash the G8 summit.

Florioli finished at 11 under, tied with Thomas Bjorn, whose 67 he said could have been a 60. The Dane played "the best golf of my life" but when he last raided Clarke's garageful of putters, obviously picked wrong. Santiago Luna also shot a 67, as did Clarke, to finished three behind the winner in second. The Northern Irishman sealed his victory with a superb approach to a foot at the 16th.

Clarke, 29, was none too happy to qualify for the Ryder Cup at Valderrama and then only get to play once before the singles. He also set out to do what he narrowly failed to do on several occasions last year, namely to win. This was his third on the European tour but it has taken eight season to reach that mark.

"It was frustrating last year to finish second a few times so it is nice to win one of our bigger tournaments," Clarke said. "My game is improving all the time and there is room for more improvement. My head can come off quickly but this week I was very patient and the right things happened for me. I took my chances on the front nine and then just held on."

Montgomerie has helped Clarke in the past with some friendly advice and gave him a putting tip on Tuesday after winning pounds 20 in a practice match. "Darren deserved to win," Monty said. "He got more confident on the greens as I lost my confidence. That is the worst I have ever putted in a tournament when I have been in contention - and I've been in contention an awful lot."

Jose Maria Olazabal closed with his best round of the week, a 68, which took him top of the European money list. However, the Spaniard is still complaining at his ability, or lack thereof as he sees it, to drive the ball. The only fairways he hit with his driver came at the first and the third.

Appointments with John Jacobs, the only man Olazabal has ever listened to about his swing, have been made for Tuesday and Wednesday but today the Spaniard is due to play in a made-for-TV skills challenge at Wentworth. "I am thinking of skipping the driving section," he said.

"I am ashamed at the way I am driving the ball," he added. "It could not be any worse. I have to do something about it soon." The obvious deadline, it was suggested to him, is next month's US Open. "Or before I die, anyway," came the reply. "And that's thinking short term."

At least he could laugh. It remains to be seen how phlegmatic Justin Rose will be once he leaves the ranks of the unpaid golfers, but he has already developed many professional tendencies. Complaining about some aspect of the game is essential.

Finishing the tournament at two under par, the 17-year-old suggested his putter would not still be in one piece once no one was looking. "My putter did not really behave itself this week, except for my 68 on Friday," Rose said. "I'm always moaning about my putting, as good putters usually do."

BENSON AND HEDGES INTERNATIONAL OPEN (The Oxfordshire, Thame) Leading final-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 273 D Clarke 70 69 67 67. 276 S Luna (Sp) 69 71 69 67. 277 T Bjorn (Den) 68 74 68 67; M Florioli (It) 68 67 71 71. 278 R Goosen (SA) 71 68 71 68; C Montgomerie 69 68 69 72. 279 M Mouland 70 70 70 69; R Davis (Aus) 70 70 70 69; G Turner (NZ) 72 67 69 71; P Sjoland (Swe) 67 72 68 72. 280 JM Olazabal (Sp) 72 70 70 68; B Davis 69 70 72 69; P Lawrie 67 73 70 70; G Evans 67 71 69 73. 281 P Price 69 67 73 72; B May (US) 71 67 71 72; P Haugsrud (Nor) 69 68 71 73. 282 A Sherborne 69 75 70 68; S Cage 69 71 71 71; I Woosnam 71 70 70 71; P Mitchell 74 68 69 71; B Lane 69 66 75 72; R Claydon 69 73 67 73. 283 P McGinley 69

73 73 68; P Fulke (Swe) 71 72 70 70; P Baker 73 66 73 71; P Affleck 68 73 71 71; S Kjeldsen (Den) 70 71 71 71; S Henderson 69 71 70 73; G Brand Jnr 70 71 69 73; D Carter 69 73 68 73; R Allenby (Aus) 71 69 69 74. 284 G Owen 73 71 72 68; C Suneson (Spa) 69 73 72 70; K Tomori (Japan) 72 70 72 70; P Curry 69 73 68 74; J Spence 70 69 70 75. 285 B Dredge 68 72 76 69; P O'Malley (Aus) 69 73 73 70; M Gronberg (Swe) 70 74 71 70; J Lomas 70 72 71 72; J Payne 73 69 70 73; F Tarnaud (Fra) 71 72 69 73. 286 S Struver (Ger) 70 71 72 73; A Coltart 72 69 71 74; *J Rose 72 68 72 74; S Leaney (Aus) 70 71 71 74; D Robertson 67 74 71 74. 287 D Edlund (Swe) 74 67 76 70; W Westner (SA) 70 72 74 71; G Chalmers (Aus) 71 73 70 73; D Lynn 69 74 71 73. 288 S Bennett 73 68 75 72; G Orr 69 74 73 72; D Smyth 69 74 73 72; R Derksen (Neth) 71 69 74 74; M Campbell (NZ) 72 71 71 74; M Hallberg (Swe) 69 72 71 76; D Howell 71 71 70 76. 289 P Harrington 70 72 74 73. 290 E Darcy 74 70 70 76. 291 C Van der Velde (Neth) 70 74 75 72; T Gogele (Ger) 73 71 70 77. 292 C Watts 69 74 76 73; A Hunter 72 72 73 75. 293 L Westwood 71 69 77 76; C Mason 73 70 73 77. 296 M Tunnicliff 71 73 74 78. 297 W Riley (Aus) 71 72 78 76. 307 A Forsbrand (Swe) 76 68 78 85. * denotes amateur

Britain's Lisa Hackney, last year's top rookie, made a late charge to join Se Ri Pak of South Korea on eight under at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the LPGA Championship in Wilmington, Delaware. Hackney bogeyed twice on the front nine, but came back with a bogey-free back nine including four birdies for a two-under 69.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape