Scottish Open: Clarke finds great mate Dane a pain

Leader's slips see him in familiar company for finale

Uh-oh, Bjorn again. Darren Clarke could have been forgiven that sentiment here yesterday as the Ulsterman saw his three-stroke overnight lead at the Barclays Scottish Open grad-ually eroded by his good mate Thomas Bjorn.

The duo will play together in the final pairing today, with Clarke and the Dane - long-term friends and fellow Liverpool fans, and we're not just talking Hoylake - set to tee off at 12.51pm, two clear of the field at 11 under par.

Recent precedent suggests a battle of will as much as of skill. At the Irish Open in May Clarke led until late, only to blow his chance with two bogeys, allowing Bjorn to birdie the 18th for the title.

Yet Clarke insists that is history, and that his closeness to Bjorn will have no relevance today. "Losing [in Ireland] was my own mistake, that wasn't me handing the tournament to Thomas," he said. "He'll be trying to beat me as much as I'm trying to beat him."

Clarke carded a level-par 71 yesterday, with birdies at the fourth, sixth and 16th offset by a hat-trick of bogeys, the first of which arrived on the stunning seventh against a gorgeous backdrop of sun-drenched loch and mountain fringe. Clarke's play at that hole, especially the missed four-foot putt for par, was marred by a loon on a jet- ski. Not content with ripping up and down the strip of water adjacent to the fairway during play, the exhibitionist then turned repeatedly to spray an accomplice in a speedboat while the putting was under way.

"He was pissing me off," laughed Clarke afterwards. "I'd love to say he was putting me off, but it wasn't that bad. He was having a little bit of fun, enjoying the weather."

A string of missed putts were the reason for Clarke not shooting three or four lower. There was one at the fifth, then after the seventh a birdie effort fell inches short on the eighth, a par three, and another attempt was just off at the 9th. With a wry grin, he pretended to snap his putter.

In contrast, Bjorn, who won here in 1996 to claim his first title, had a second consecutive storming day, carding a five-under 66 to add to the 65 he shot on Friday. "This place has a huge place in heart as the place that set me on my way," he said. "When the weather's like this, there's not a finer venue on the European Tour. I played solid golf today and that's a good thing to take into tomorrow."

While the Clarke-Bjorn tussle will take centre stage, there are contenders aplenty within a few shots. Scotland's David Drysdale, England's Benn Barham and Argentina's Andres Romero (all on nine under after yesterday) will be vying for the one Open place at Royal Liverpool available to the best-placed non-exempt finisher here.

This event's defending champion, Tim Clark, is a shot further back on eight under along with three others. His South African compatriot Ernie Els shot 67 yesterday to move stealthily to seven under ahead of today's denouement.

Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor