Clarke must lift his game again to catch Ernie

Darren Clarke has been tipped for The Open so many times there must be bookmakers with Spanish villas named after him. Next week promises to be no different after a 64 yesterday sent the Ulsterman hurtling up the Scottish Open leaderboard. You could almost hear the 33-1 being gobbled up.

While it is true that the 34-year-old never quite got to Ernie Els yesterday, there are not many golfers ­ now, or in history ­ who could live with the South African in this current mood. A 67 that was sickening in its ease took the reigning Open champion to 15-under and gave him a five-shot lead which will require Clarke and Philip Price to summon something superhuman to overturn. There are swans on the loch that have looked more awkward than Els here this week.

Not to say that Clarke hasn't got the superhuman in him. When a golfer says: "A 64 was probably the worst score I could have shot today," you know he is playing well. Indeed, if he had not missed a five-footer on the first and a four-footer on the 13th, then Clarke would have matched the day's low of Peter O'Malley. Still, seven birdies and no bogeys would have helped cushion that blow.

"I will probably have to do even better tomorrow if I want to catch Ernie," said Clarke, and Els himself was not about to disagree. "The way I'm playing, somebody's got to go very low to catch me," he said.

But there was a note, if a faint one, of caution. Els confessed he had once surrendered a five-shot lead while an amateur and in March he saw a three-shot lead overhauled by Robert Jan-Derksen in the final round in Dubai. "Five shots sounds a lot," he said, "but in a way that makes you more worried about it."

A bogey on the 16th, after four earlier birdies, worried Els to such an extent that this most laid-back of players even punched the air when he holed a 10-footer for a birdie on the 18th. "After dropping that shot on 16 I told my caddie that I really wanted it back on one of the last two. So, yes, that was nice."

But maybe not for Price, who stuck valiantly to his playing partner until the 18th, where he could not roll in his own 12-footer. Nevertheless, a 68 meant that Price is level with Clarke and in contention once more after his victory in the European Open seven days ago. The Welshman could just prove the dark horse in The Open field.

Earlier O'Malley was denied a share of Retief Goosen's 1997 course record only because of the preferred lies in operation due to the boggy conditions. The 38-year-old equalled his own personal best, as well, to help him leap from 44th to fourth. The Australian's previous 62 also came at this tournament ­ in the wholly different setting and conditions of Gleneagles in 1992 ­ when he so memorably played the last five holes in seven under to pip Colin Montgomerie.

Yesterday the home favourite, with a one-over-par 72, gave an encore of Friday's miserable performance on the greens, which had led one Scottish newspaper to comment that he had done a "Basil Fawlty" when burying his head in his hands and manically waving around his putter after yet another slipped by.

But for John Daly it was more a case of "don't mention the draw" as he pulled his way into the heavy stuff on so many occasions that he followed his second-round 66 with a 77 yesterday. What will it be today ­ a 55 or an 88?

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods' website was taking even more hits than Daly yesterday as he revealed that the left knee that required surgery last year is not the reason why he forsook his usual trip to Ireland to practise before The Open. Instead, Woods stayed at home in Florida "to work on my game and enjoy some peace and quiet". The world No 1 said he is happy with his form and is looking forward to Royal St George's, which he has heard "is kind of funky".

This would undoubtedly have raised a few bushy eyebrows in the Members' Bar at Sandwich. They have heard their exclusive club called many things, but "kind of funky"? "Steward, what exactly does Mr Woods mean?"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
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

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine