I was pathetic, admits Clarke

By Brian Keogh

Disappointed Darren Clarke kissed the Open goodbye on Saturday and admitted - I was pathetic.

After crashing to a six over par 77 in the third round, the Dungannon man took 69 yesterday to camouflage a week to forget.

But his 69 easily have been much better had it not been for five glaring misses with the putter.

Clarke was eight behind Ernie Els starting the day but after picking up three shots in the front nine he went off the boil coming home.

"I had great opportunities on 9, 10, 11, 13, 14," admitted Clarke. "Maybe I was a little bit far back starting the day but it would have been nice to shoot 65.

"I played easily well enough to shoot 65 and I walked off with a 69. I'm disappointed."

Tiger Woods carded a wonderful 65 to climb back up the leaderboard.

But Clarke's challenge faltered when he failed to birdie the par-five ninth, missed birdie chances from 15 feet at the 10th and 11th and then bogeyed he 12th where he missed the fairway.

"I kept missing. I missed one fairway on that back nine and was in the rough by six inches and made bogey.

"The Open was probably my number one priority at the start of the year and the one I was looking forward to. I went out yesterday and really swung the club terribly. I was pathetic, even in the conditions.

"I was really disappointed. It was more disappointing than anything, even more so than today."

Clarke will take the next two weeks off to spend some time with his family before returning for the Celtic Manor resort Wales Open.

"I'll get a rest and hopefully when I come back things will come good," he said.

But he was still hurt by his failure to cope with the weather on Saturday after growing up on the links at Royal Portrush where the wind always blows.

"I swung the club terribly. I was completely useless on the course in trying conditions and it's difficult to go back home positive after swinging it as poorly. Today I should have scored a lot better.

"They are the toughest conditions I've had in a Major before and it was just a case of trying to hang on. Unfortunately, because I wasn't hitting it as well as I should I didn't do it.

"I've been out in Portrush on a few days similar. Certainly in a Major that was about as bad as I've ever had.

"Everybody suffered. I wanted a bit of wind and usually that doesn't bother me and I'm just disappointed because of the way I swung it in those sort of conditions.

"If there was ever an opportunity for me to get right back into the tournament that was it yesterday, as bad as they were but I just wasn't able to hit the shots that I can hit."

Clarke struck the ball perfectly yesterday but just couldn't hole putts.

"I hit the ball fantastically and missed three shots out of the whole round, three that's all," he said. "But I've missed everything on the green again. I'm hitting really good putts and they're not going in and you can't do any more than that really.

"I've got to be patient and the ones lipping out and horseshoes. I got three horseshoes again today and I've got to wait for those to go in. Hopefully if they go in the right week."