Clarke fails Scottish test but wins Open spot

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The Independent Online

Darren Clarke lost the Scottish Open but won a spot in this week's Open Championship yesterday. The big Ulsterman failed to stop the charge of Edoardo Molinari who joined his brother Francesco as a European Tour winner.

The Italian's three-shot win sets up the real possibility of both Molinaris making their Ryder Cup debuts in October. With Francesco looking on all the way – he finished joint fourth – Edoardo took the £500,000 first prize. One ahead after his dazzling third-round 63, he closed with a 74 in much tougher conditions and, with a 12-under-par total of 272, edged out Clarke.

The compensation for the runner-up was that, with Molinari already exempt for St Andrews, he took the one berth on offer. "That is a consolation and after my results so far this year – if someone had offered me second at the start of the week I would have taken it," said the 41-year-old, who will now leap up from his world ranking of 179. "But the way I played here the first three days, and the position I put myself in, means I will leave disappointed. But I do now have the home of golf to look forward to, where I hope I can produce more of my first three rounds than the last one."

Clarke was fighting an uphill battle from the moment he tried to play his ball out of the mud and water by the third green, needing three attempts at it before running up a double-bogey seven. In the end, he struggled to a 76, which more or less handed the crown to his 29-year-old playing partner. A golden opportunity now presents itself to the boys from Turin.

No brothers have played together in the Ryder Cup since Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt in 1963, back in the days when it was just Great Britain and Ireland against America. But Francesco, who a week ago lost a play-off for the French Open to Miguel Angel Jimenez, moves up from eighth to fifth in the points race. And Edoardo, who first hit the headlines by winning the US Amateur title five years ago, is up from 11th to sixth on the world list, from which the first four members of Colin Montgomerie's side will come.

With Francesco having won the 2006 Italian Open, Edoardo's victory makes them the third brothers to lift Tour titles – and this just eight months after they combined to win the World Cup in China. Seve and Manuel Ballesteros achieved the feat, as did their fellow Spaniards Antonio and German Garrido.

Eduardo, who moves back ahead of his brother on the world rankings, said: "This is very special. On Tuesday we were talking about the fact that we had never played well in the same week and finally it's happened. Now I hope Francesco wins next week. I was very nervous to be honest. The last few holes are very difficult and Darren hit a great shot on 17. My five-iron there was probably my best shot and the drive on 18 was great."

Further down the leaderboard, Graeme McDowell missed the chance to move into the world's top 10 for the first time. Fourth place would have taken the US Open champion above England's Paul Casey but, after starting the last day in 14th, a four-over 75 dropped him to joint-21st.

John Daly did not finish as well as he had hoped either. Daly, who today returns to the scene of his 1995 Open win, was cruising at four-under with seven to play, but triple-bogeyed the 12th and 13th and, with a 77, was tied for 26th. Facing a tax demand of nearly £700,000 at home, the 44-year-old has not had a top-20 finish for more than two years.

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