Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie have been known to “lose it” over the years. And that’s why the sometimes tempestuous pair gave fellow veteran Miguel Angel Jiménez a vote of 6.0 for artistic merit after watching their ponytailed playing partner smash his misbehaving putter into two pieces by hurling it at his golf bag.
The 47-year old Spaniard was forced to putt with his lob wedge for the last five holes in the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain, but he birdied three in a row from the 15th using the leading edge of his lobber and then parred the last for a 65.
The Spaniard goes into the weekend tied for the lead on 11 under par with Ryder Cup team-mates Peter Hanson and Edoardo Molinari and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin with Clarke, who was also round in 65, in a five-way tie for fifth place, just a shot further adrift on 10 under.
Nobody appreciated Jimenez’s fit of temper better than Clarke, who confessed that he has “bent”a few putters in his time though he couldn’t recall ever having broken one in half.
“It was a wonderful effort,” Clarke joked. “Miguel’s back swing was a little bit long but the release was at the perfect time and the putter just managed to catch the corner of the bag. I have to say, it was beautiful, really funny. Definitely got 6.0 on technique both from the course designer and myself, so it was a wonderful effort.
“Between the three of us playing together today, we’ve spent a few years out here and, unfortunately, we’ve all done it. If you’re playing nicely like Miguel and miss putt after putt, you’re going to lose your temper.”
Jiménez could see the funny side of the story and admitted that he had become frustrated by a few short misses having struck the ball imperiously from tee to green.
“Just tried to do the boomerang, it’s boomeranging with the putter,” he said. “I threw it away, I missed so many short putts today that I got desperate at that moment and just put the putter to the bag and I get the edge and break it. It’s not the intention to break it, because as you know, it’s supposed to be easy to putt with the putter and not with the lob-wedge.
“But after putting with the lob-wedge is so good, I don’t know if tomorrow I’m going to play with the putter. I think now I putt with my lob-wedge.”
Clarke hit 16 greens but still took just 28 putts as he picked up eight birdies and dropped just one shot in a 65 that owed much to a recent putting lesson from Ryder Cup captain José Maria Olazabal.
“Yeah, it was better again,” said Clarke, who is bidding for his first tour win since the 2008 KLM Open. “I had worked with Phil Kenyon in Abu Dhabi and José Maria spent a couple of hours with me on Saturday and I’m rolling the ball an awful lot better.”
Nodding to Jiménez, Clarke added: “If I could hole as many as him with a putter or a lob-wedge, I’d be doing okay. But he looked good with a lob-wedge. You know, the ball was jumping. You looked good…
“I gave myself a lot of chances today. I kept hitting it close, close, close. Overall I’m pleased with where I’m at going into the weekend. Certainly rolling a lot better. Pace is better, lines are better and the putts did I hit today, for the most part, I did hit pretty well.
“José Maria has helped me, but he spent a lot of time with me and obviously it’s better if I’m putting better. But I’ve got a brand new TaylorMade R11 driver this weekend which has given me, not an awful lot downwind but into the wind it’s given me an extra ten to 12 yards, which is making a huge difference here because you can carry some of the mounds and some of the bunkers. All in all my game is pretty good.”
Out in three under par having started on the 10th, he was four under with four holes to play but then bogeyed the eighth and failed to birdie the par-five ninth.
“I played a little better but scored poorly. It always takes a while to get sharp this early in the season,” Harrington said. “That’s why it was disappointing to get just one round in last week.”
Michael Hoey matched Montgomerie and his fiercest course critic, Ian Poulter, as they all shot 69s to make the cut on three under. Peter Lawrie made it on the two under par mark with a 74 but Damien McGrane’s slow start to the season continued when he shot a level par 72 to miss out by five shots.