Nightmare run continues for Clarke

Luke Donald has pushed Padraig Harrington out of the world’s top 10.

But there was even worse news for struggling Darren Clarke as crashed to a lowly 75th in the latest Official World Golf Rankings.

Clarke racked up his fourth missed cut on the trot in the rain-delayed Spanish Open on Saturday.

The Dungannon man, 38, has been in freefall since his heroics for Europe in the Ryder Cup last September.

Once ranked as high as sixth in the world, Clarke will be hoping to make amends with four high profile events over the next four weeks.

But he badly needs to get four rounds under his belt after missing out on the last two rounds by two shots in Madrid

First up is the $6.3 million Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina, where he will rub shoulders with 19 of the world’s top 20.

Tiger Woods, defending champion Jim Furyk and the rest of the world’s top ten will tee it up with England’s Paul Casey, the only absentee.

Harrington will also be there as he prepares to play four in a row with the Players Championship at Sawgrass, the Irish Open and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

The Dubliner, 35, fell one spot to 11th in the rankings after Donald jumped two places to 10th following his runner up finish behind Scott Verplank in the EDS Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday.

England’s Ian Poulter, who finished in a tie for third, moved up to 24th in the new rankings with Phil Mickelson back up to third ahead of Adam Scott after sharing third place with Poulter.

South African Charl Schwartzel improved from 57th to 40th with his Spanish Open victory.

And with the top 50 in a week’s time being invited to the Players Championship in Florida - golf’s unofficial fifth major - he can go ahead and book his flights.

Clarke gets into the Players field from his 125th place finish on the US Tour last season.

But he is now a worrying 125th on the European Tour money list after seven events with just €64,091 in the bank.

Clarke’s worst finish on the European Tour came in his debuit season of 1991 when he missed eight of 19 cuts and earned just £29,889 to finish 112th in the Order of Merit behind Seve Ballesteros.

But from 1992 onwards Clarke was always at the business end of proceedings.

While he finished 41st in the money list that year, he would never finish as low again until last season when he came in 43rd but played just 14 events.

The illness and subsequent death of his wife Heather in August last year saw him take an eight-week break from the game between the Open at Hoylake and the Madrid Open.

(Clarke’s nightmare run since Ryder Cup)
WGC - Amex Championship T26
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship MC
Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo T44
Commercialbank Qatar Masters MC
Dubai Desert Classic T20
Maybank Malaysian Open T27
WGC-Accenture Match Play Champ, lost 1st rd (Sergio Garcia)
Clariden Leu Singapore Masters MC
Arnold Palmer Invitational MC
Masters Tournament MC
Spanish Open MC