Clarke's comeback puts him on course for Ryder Cup pick - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Clarke's comeback puts him on course for Ryder Cup pick

As one of the finest ball-strikers in the game, the timing of Darren Clarke has never been in doubt. And after yesterday's emphatic win at the Dutch Open it will go on being unquestioned for some time. Almost certainly by a Mr Faldo.

The Europe Ryder Cup captain could not have failed to be impressed by the Ulsterman's return to the winner's enclosure, just one week before he is due to announce his two wild cards for the match in Kentucky next month. While it is still possible for Clarke to move into the automatic qualifying positions with victory at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles this week, he has probably earned his place anyway. A four-stroke victory over the fast-finishing Paul McGinley made sure of that. What would have made Faldo sit up and take notice, more than the final-round 66 for a 16-under total, was the manner in which Clarke, who turned 40 last week, bounced back after letting slip an overnight three-stroke advantage. In fact, it took his playing partner, Henrik Stenson, just three holes to grab the lead for himself as he birdied those opening holes and Clarke bogeyed the second. But showing the battling qualities that long ago established Clarke as a Ryder Cup national, he began reeling off the birdies himself and by the turn he was four shots to the good. The rest were left to battle it out for runner-up and McGinley, Clarke's neighbour and close friend, came through majestically with a best-of-the-week 64.

Clarke was, understandably, delighted with his second win of the season and not only because of what it might mean for his Ryder Cup chances. The £220,000 first prize will also hoist him back into the all-important world's top 50, which brings qualification for next year's majors tantalisingly into view. It has been a torrid road back towards the elite for Clarke after losing his wife, Heather, to cancer two years ago. His two young sons were in Zandvoort to watch him win and his relief was obvious.

"It's nice to win knowing that I had to play well and then actually doing it," said Clarke. "I had two weeks to try to impress Nick and the first is out of the way and I seem to have done that. I don't know if I have done enough, but I'm going to Gleneagles in better shape and hopefully he will take notice."

He surely will and it is bad news for Colin Montgomerie all round. It always was a risk for the Scot to sit out this tournament and wait for the Johnnie Walker – a tournament that he actually hosts – but he could not have figured it would have backfired so spectacularly. Clarke has certainly moved above him in the pecking order, and seeing as Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and also McGinley may also all be relying on picks, that leaves Monty in a hapless position. It is his own fault as he should have played in the Netherlands.

Faldo will doubtless agree. He called for his prospective players to prove themselves and he cannot be anything but admiring of the attitude of the boys who did turn up. Justin Rose had hoped to seal his berth and travel back to the States to play in the £5m FedEx Cup series. But now, after a 34th placing left his automatic top-10 standing still in doubt, he has decided to travel to Perthshire. "Well it's only money and you can't take it with you," said Rose, who remains in eighth, one ahead of Soren Hansen who leapfrogged England's Oliver Wilson into ninth. "I came to do a job and I didn't do it this week, so I'll do it next week. My missus will be upset with me, though. I told her I'd play well and see her tomorrow."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future