Clarke boost for Foundation duo

By Brian Keogh

Darren Clarke put his Malaysian Open disappointment behind him by announcing good news for two Irish starlets.

The Ulsterman, 39, came close to ending his four-year wait for a European Tour victory on Sunday but faded to joint 10th with three bogeys in the last four holes.

Close to regaining his best form, Clarke plans to take the next two weeks off to be with his sons Tyrone and Conor.

But he also announced that his Darren Clarke Foundation is sending Moyala Park's Luke Lennox and Rathmore's lan Dunbar on an all-expenses-paid trip to the inaugural Ernie Els World Junior Invitational Tournament in South Africa later this month.

Thanks to an invitation from pal Els, the pair will play at Fancourt from 24-27 March and stay on for the South African Boys’ Championship from 1-4 April.

Clarke said: "I am absolutely delighted for the two players. Firstly it was wonderful of Ernie to issue an invite to my Foundation to send two representatives to his tournament and I hope this is the first of many initiatives between our respective Foundations.

"Secondly I was thrilled to inform Luke and Alan of their selection. They are both excellent golfers and both current Boy Internationals.

"I know that both of them have fantastic futures ahead of them in the game of golf.

"When I called them last week to extend the invitation they were both very excited.

"The second invitation to play in the South African Boys’ Championship is an added bonus and my Foundation is delighted to support Alan and Luke and we wish them all the best in both of the tournaments."

Without a win since the 2005 Visa Masters in Japan, Clarke finished just four shots outside a play-off for the Maybank Malaysian Open.

He was just a stroke off the lead late on Sunday afternoon but finished poorly and could not hide his disappointment.

Up up 36th in the Order of Merit, Clarke said: "I'd lots of chances and played well enough to be at the top of the leaderboard - but I'm not."